Prospects for UK work

by 20 Feb 2007

Q. I am an HR Manager interested in broadening my experience by working in the UK. What is involved in securing the right to work in the UK and what are the market conditions like at the moment?

A. You certainly aren’t alone in your desire to further your career by working in the UK and gaining valuable international experience – as well wanting the opportunity to explore Europe on the weekends!

While opportunities in recent years have been limited because of an over supply of HR professionals, conditions have changed markedly over the last 12 to 18 months.

Taking London as an example, the HR sector is one of the most buoyant in terms of employment growth – so now is certainly a good time to be thinking about a move.

Before you buy your ticket you will need to secure a visa that will enable you to work in the UK. Two of the most popular options for Australians are the ‘working holidaymaker visa’ and the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.

To qualify for the working holidaymaker visa you need to be between 17 and 30 years of age. The visa is valid for two years; however, the main reason for your stay is stipulated as being a holiday. As a consequence, you are limited to working for no more than 12 months during the two-year period on a temporary or contract basis.

It follows that this visa is most popular for those people who intend to spend a large portion of their time in the UK travelling.

If you are more interested in career development, the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme is worth consideration.

The program is designed to allow highly skilled people to migrate to the UKto look for work or self-employment opportunities. It is different from other work permit arrangements because you do not need a specific job offer in the UK to apply.

You will have to meet a series of requirements and obtain 75 points or more to qualify for the program. These points are based on a number of criteria such as your qualifications and professional experience.

This visa is issued on an initial two-year basis with an opportunity to extend for a further three years if you meet the criteria for an extension of stay. You have full working rights so can gain employment on a permanent, temporary or contract basis.

For more detailed information on these and other visa and immigration options, I strongly suggest that you visit

After you’ve landed in the UK with your work visa, you may need to be flexible on the first role you accept to get your foot in the door.

Employment laws in the UK vary to those in Australia and being aware of these differences will give you an advantage.

Research websites such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ( This is something you can do before leaving Australia.

There is demand across the board in the UK– from generalists through to specialists in compensation and benefits, learning and development, employee relations and in-house recruitment.

As an indication of salary levels, an HR director will earn between £60-£70k ($151,709-$176,994), an HR manager between £35k-£50k ($88,493-$126,412) and an HR advisor around the £28k mark ($70,780).

The current employment market for HR professionals in the UK is certainly positive. So if a trip overseas is something you have been thinking about, now is the time to act!

By Natalie Melilli, manager human resources, Michael Page International


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