I was recently attending an event organised by the University of Leicester’s Engineering Society. I was one of three alumni speakers at the event, where we were presenting our experience as job-seekers and what it takes to get a job. During that event one question kept popping up all the time – “How do you find a job as an international student in the UK?”
Out of the three speakers, I was the only international student. The other two presenters were home students, but one of them gave a very honest answer to the question, saying that the current home secretary was doing very well in getting rid of good talent from this country. He summed up in one line what I am going to say over the next couple of paragraphs.
To get a job in the UK as an international student, you need to have a sponsorship letter from your employer. Not all employers can offer sponsorship letters. But to put it simply, most big companies offer sponsorship letters to international students.
So Where’s the War on Talent?
Students from some international (non-EU) countries in the UK have reduced by up to 25%. The UK has lost its allure as visa rules deter Indian students, claims Times Higher Education. And where are all these students going? Australia, USA and some European countries – that is talent being driven to other countries right from the start.
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Let’s say some poor soul did spend £15,000/year in tuition fees at a UK university and now wants a job in the UK – he or she is legally entitled to look for a job in the UK. But an international job seeker would only be hired by big companies and not by a small business, because of the extra burden that the Home Office puts on businesses willing to hire international students. Small businesses are missing out on talent.
I don’t know if talent comes in one shape, nationality or colour but every firm should have equal rights when employing talent. Unfortunately that is not happening in the UK. International talent is only scooped up by large firms. Doesn’t that mean the UK is hurting its own small businesses? And by not letting them hire international talent, Britain certainly IS winning the war on talent.
What can be done about it? I don’t know. I know this argument sounds too simplistic for what it is – but if I was a small business, I would be furious that I couldn’t hire talent because of how difficult it is to, due to all the extra burden.
I hope Britain realizes that there are no winners in this war on talent and offers international students in the UK an option to work for a business where they can add the most value, and not just one where they simply get hired and become a number.
At a time when US start-ups are lobbying the President and their politicians to make it easier for these small firms to hire international talent, I am still surprised that the UK is lagging behind.
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