Considering the weather – maybe even the state of the nation, the opportunity to work abroad appears an increasingly attractive option. What’s more, the camaraderie to be found in ‘ex-pat’ communities and the opportunity to satisfy one’s wanderlust makes overseas employment a good fit for many Service-leavers.
Naturally, there are a few complications to working abroad: visa issues, work permits and language barriers must all be considered – and if you’re taking a family with you, the cost of living, available education and factors like healthcare services will need to figure as part of your decision-making process too.
The top Considerations are:
• Quality of life
• Job opportunities
• Visas, rights and possibilities for staying long term (residency)
• Affordability: wages versus the cost of living
• Specific considerations for your own situation, such as education,
healthcare, religion and culture.
Where to go?
Traditionally, European countries have been an obvious choice for Brits seeking to work abroad. As a citizen of an EU-member state, British citizens have the right to live and work across the Union. With few, if any, administrative impediments to deal with, British citizens could focus entirely on learning the local language and settling in.
That’s all about to change, of course, and it’s likely that we have only another year or so to enjoy these privileges – depending on the terms agreed for any Brexit transitional period, which may stretch the privileges out for another 24 months. For this reason, if you are thinking about seeking work abroad in the immediate future, Europe is an attractive option; make hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes.
Year after year Australia remains the number one destination for Brits moving abroad. We’re attracted by the good weather, laid-back vibe and outdoor lifestyle. Our shared language and the low cultural dissonance makes it really easy to find your feet there and quickly make friends and business contacts.
Thanks to Australia’s clear immigration policies, it’s also really easy to understand whether your skills will be in demand. Medics and healthcare workers, engineers and construction workers are regularly sought-after – check the published national, state and territory skill shortage lists on the Australian Government website to find the most up-to-date information.
The USA is another popular destination for British emigres – traditionally it has been the second most popular country for ex-pats. The national esteem in which Veterans are held has made it a good destination for ex-Services personnel. However, Donald Trump’s changes to the visa and immigration system are making things more difficult across the board, raising real concerns about visa renewals for British people already in the country. In this uncertain climate, other English-speaking nations look increasingly attractive to British people seeking to work abroad.
With it’s beautiful scenery, high quality of life and reputation for friendliness, Canada is an enduringly popular destination. The Telegraph newspaper reported that “In the days after Britain voted to leave the European Union by 52% to 48%, Google searches for ‘move to Canada’ hit an all-time high”.
Different Canadian provinces have different rules and skills requirements, but generally labourers, plumbers, electricians and engineering project managers are among the roles in demand. (IT, accountancy, customer service and sales positions are white-collar skills in most demand.) However, the current immigration arrangements Britain has with Canada have been agreed through the auspices of the EU. Consequently, there is no guarantee that British citizens will have the same rights after May 2019 when Britain leaves the EU.
Net migration from the UK to New Zealand doubled in the year after the Brexit referendum result. The Financial Times newspaper reported that “Net migration by UK residents was 6,371 in 2017, compared with 3,614 in 2015”.
New Zealand has promised to reduce immigration, but it does offer a fast-track application process for skilled workers. The immigration service publishes long-term and short-term skills in-demand lists. At the present time, skills in demand tend to fall within the medical or construction fields.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The high salaries that can be commanded by professionals in the Gulf states draw British ex-pats to the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While the transition to life in the UAE may be more challenging than it is in Australia or New Zealand, for example, the high tax-free salaries make working here very attractive.
Although Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the most ‘westernised’ cities in the Middle East, most British workers still choose to live in gated ex-pat communities. Even so, understanding and abiding by the culture is essential to avoid the horror stories that occasionally emerge of expats who have fallen foul of local law. Healthcare workers, engineers, accountants and sales executives are all in demand.
What to do?
Traditionally, UK workers have found good employment opportunities across Europe teaching English as a foreign language. It’s possible to attain a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification in as little as three months, or four weeks for an intensive study course. Courses typically cost around £1,500 for a recognised, accredited scheme such as those under Cambridge Celta or Trinity CertTesol. How much European demand there will be for English language teaching in the long-term as French regains its primacy in official EU operations remains in doubt. However, a TEFL from a recognised institution will take you as far as China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. English language teaching skills are in high demand in these countries, among many other international destinations.
The organisational, team building and practical skills that ex-Service personnel can bring to the fore are particularly useful for charities operating in less-developed parts of the world. If you are in a financial position to share your skills on a voluntary basis, helping with engineering projects, medical projects and sustainable development programmes is a practical way to put existing skills to good – and rewarding – use. Respected schemes such as those run by VSO offer a basic living allowance, accommodation and healthcare for the duration of the placement. What’s more, the charity will help with visas, immunisations (where required), flights and support with settling in, which can make the process of adapting to a new country a whole lot easier.
The Legatum Institute is a London-based think tank that publishes an annual global prosperity index. The latest list, published in 2016 ranked the top 10 countries to live as:
1. New Zealand