Moving To The UK
What To Expect When Moving To The UK For Construction
This page is intended for construction professionals who have never worked in the UK but who are considering doing so.
The UK, made up of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is well and truly open for business. The UK is experiencing a nationwide construction boom and is experiencing its biggest skills shortage in construction industry for many years. Evidence for this can be seen on the Maxim Recruitment job vacancy pages, and in our construction recruitment office where clients regularly give us 25+ UK construction vacancies a day to try and fill for them. The trade press is regularly reporting the details of the boom which is happening in both building construction and civil engineering and infrastructure projects. The hiring managers we talk to are spending vast amounts of time worrying about how to resource their next project and are willing to pay good salaries and packages for suitable candidates.
To get a basic understanding about working in the UK, the official UK Government website is a good resource which will give you information on anything from taxation to Visas to transferring your driving license and everything in between.
The Currency used in the UK is the UK Pound, which is the 4th most traded currency in the foreign exchange market
The UK has the 5th largest economy in the world and retains significant power and influence on the economic and political stages around the world.
Political Organisation and Religious Climate
The UK is a sovereign state in Europe. It has a has a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. It has the world's 5th largest economy by GDP.
The UK is a multi-faith society, although in surveys around 70% of respondents indicated alignment to Christianity to some degree.
Each country in the UK has its own system of administration:
England - 9 administrative regions, while Greater London has a directly elected mayor. At a more local level, England has county councils and district councils and London has 32 London boroughs.
Scotland - 32 council areas
Wales - 22 unitary authorities
N. Ireland - 26 district councils
Culture and Leisure
Although geographically compact, the UK has massive geographic, cultural and linguistic variety.
England - Dominated by the economic and cultural powerhouse of London, a good introduction to the cities, towns and potential of England as your home can be found in the England section of the Lonely Planet Guide
Scotland - Glasgow and Edinburgh are major cities but there is a wealth of things to do across Scotland as profiled in the Scotland section of the Lonely Planet Guide.
Wales - Cardiff is the capital, but there is a lot more to discover as the Wales section of the Lonely Planet Guide shows
Northern Ireland - Belfast, Derry and a range of exciting places to visit as profiled in the Northern Ireland section of the Lonely Planet Guide
Accommodation and Education
Property prices can vary considerably between the countries in the UK and also within the regions and cities too. You can use some of the UK's property and rental web-sites to gauge the cost of accommodation across regions. A couple you may want to consider are Right Move or Zoopla.
There are a wide variety of schools, both in the state sector (free) and in the private sector which are fee paying. There are various introductory guides available including schoolguide.co.uk.
With regards to Visas, at Maxim Recruitment we've found UK construction companies often a bit reluctant to hire candidates without valid entitlement to work in the UK already in place. For those with EU nationality, the rules are much more relaxed. Non-EU nationals may need to go through a complicated points based system to determine eligibility to work in the UK and often a written job offer will be needed before this is granted.
The complication non-EU nationals will face is construction companies seem reluctant to interview candidates if they do not already have a Visa in place to work in the UK, leaving many in a catch 22 situation.
Securing a visa can take several months and incur processing costs with no guarantee of success. Larger construction contractors and consultancies will typically have a person in their HR department responsible for understanding the process and for securing visas for new staff therefore the larger construction companies will be more interested and able to hire non-UK candidates for construction jobs in the UK and are often worth targeting applications to first.
In summary, it's not always easy to get your first opportunity in construction in the UK, and you do need to be able to demonstrate suitable skills and qualifications to show you can add value to the UK construction industry.
However, given the skills shortage, it is possible if you're determined to progress your career in the UK, to secure something through.
It is often recommended that non-UK based job seekers visit the UK to attend interviews in person. Whilst some employers are willing to conduct telephone and Skype interviews, there is no substitute for meeting face to face. It is for the job seeker themselves to ensure that doing this is legally possible under the terms of the visa they are visiting the UK on though.
A quick summary of our general advice:
- Do your research on the UK - Taxation, cost of living, where in the UK your skills are best in demand etc.
- Know what you want to achieve (e.g. salary, location, timescales, type of company etc.)
- Talk to a Recruitment Agency to determine whether your expectations are achievable
- Plan some provisional dates to visit the UK for interviews if this is possible and legal to do under your visa
- Work with your Recruitment Consultant to arrange interviews during your stay or by phone or Skype.