More Jobs than ever in the UK: What Does This Mean for South Africans?

As Britain enters the post-Brexit era and aims to recover the economy amidst the constant threat of the pandemic, the labour spectrum is undergoing a simultaneous metamorphosis.

South African workers are set to be the next bridge in the skilled labour gaps emerging in the UK market. UK employers now face sponsorship bureaucracy when employing workers from the EU, just as they have had to do with South African workers in the past.

The slew of new red tape begs the question: Will English speaking abilities and cultural worth ethic benefit South Africans in the UK job market?

Why Employ South Africans?

The International Labour Organisation captures data from almost 100 countries and has calculated that workers in South Africa spend an average of 43 hours a week at work. This is higher than the global average and significantly higher than the UK average of 36 hours per week. These numbers indicate that South Africans are potentially working an extra day per week compared to other nationalities.

Workers in South Africa receive an average salary of £13,894 per year. A weakening Rand-Pound exchange rate continuously adds to the appeal of job offers in the UK, many with annual incomes of more than double the South African average.

Another factor adding to the favourable employment of South Africans is the constantly evolving employment landscape. Advanced technologies are removing borders and making remote employment more accessible than ever. Companies can keep overheads lower and take a low-risk, high-reward approach to employment. These opportunities are disrupting the financial and information technology industries and reshaping the landscape as we know it.

Despite the move to a digital workforce, there are still plenty of sectors in dire need of physical labour. Transportation, retail, construction, and medical fields have all recorded more vacancies than ever before in the third quarter of 2021.

Historic Highs for Job Vacancies

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) determined that there were more than 1 million job vacancies across the UK in the period from July to September. This is almost triple than the same period in 2020.

In the hospitality industry, more than 30% of companies are struggling to find enough workers to fill all their gaps. Water and health industries were also reported having difficulties recruiting workers.

Supply and labour issues in the UK are deepening and recent fuel shortages brought on by a lack of transportation workers in the sector highlighted the supply and demand imbalance. As the UK broke away from their nearest trading partners, fuel stations ran dry and supermarket shelves became empty but an increase in labour could drastically improve the circumstances, despite some of the issues being on a global scale.

Automotive and motorbike mechanics are also in high demand and the sector had a 32% increase in vacancies according to ONS. More than a quarter of businesses who are struggling to find employees agree that Brexit is to blame for the problem and that they have noticed a decline in the number of EU applicants. Closer to half of the employers from the storage and transport sectors cited this as a worsening factor.

Good News for South Africans

As one door closes, another opens.

Employment opportunities are ripe for the picking and Brexit has levelled the playing field for South Africans who have previously been negated.

Ryan Rennison, CEO and founder of UK immigration consultancy Move Up, said that his company has positioned itself to facilitate sourcing and screening of South African based workforce.

“The gap in the market relates to hands-on trades and we on the ground able to facilitate an introduction to our qualified and able workforce,” Rennison says.

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