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Foreign Workers Arrive in UK with Greater Skill Set than Homegrown Talent

According to new research conducted by Lloyds Banking Group, skilled foreign workers – also known as ‘inward talent’ or ‘inpats’ – are playing an increasingly vital role in the United Kingdom’s professional workforce, and add an estimated £210 billion to our economy. The research showed that foreign workers have doubled since 1997 to 4.6 million in 2014, meaning they make up 15% of total employment in the UK.

Most inpats hold senior or highly skilled jobs, often working in managerial positions or technical roles.  Only 17% of UK nationals are employed in a professional occupation, considered as one of the top three skills categories along with professional and associate professional, compared with the United States, where 75% of US inpats hold a managerial role.

The reason for this could be that the foreign workers are arriving in the UK more qualified than the average UK citizen: while 26% of UK nationals have achieved level four qualifications or higher, inpats from the EU and other countries are, on average, much more highly qualified. Furthermore, 57% of inward talent coming from the United States hold level four qualifications, which more than doubles the UK figure.

Foreign workers are mostly based in economically healthy cities, showing a strong correlation towards inward talent and growing economy. In fact, a huge 41% of all inward talent ends up living in London, and a further 15% living in South East England, where the economy and housing market is booming. The trend is reiterated by the fact that the North East, a slower area of the economy, only has 2% of inpats living and working there.

Some may find the research worrying, as it suggests foreign workers are arriving with a greater skill set than home-grown talent, and fear it could negatively affect UK citizens looking for jobs. However, according to the Home Offices Migration Advisory Committee, foreign workers are increasingly working in low-skilled roles too.

The areas that inpats are most likely to be employed in are public administration and health and education in England and Wales.  However, inward talent contribute to finance and business services most in terms of GVA (gross value added) – they account for 18% (£68 million) of the sector, showing a very significant positive economic impact.

Head of client services, UK Wealth at Lloyds, Jamsheed Poncha, said: “The research clearly demonstrates the strength of the UK economy and its ability to attract a highly qualified workforce from around the world.”

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