UK at risk of losing its competitive advantage in attracting international talent

A new report published today [25 January] by the City of London Corporation and EY finds that while the UK remains a leading hub for international talent, a Global Talent Strategy is needed to maintain its competitive advantage.


The International talent and economic growth: Global competition report explores how amid increasing geopolitical competition in strategic technologies and high-growth sectors, global talent is key to economic growth.


The report finds that the UK continues to successfully appeal to global talent for a multitude of reasons. However, while it is supported by clear visa routes and short processing times, it is a comparably high-cost market to enter, and is the only advanced economy not to have a Global Talent Strategy in place.


The World Economic Forum recently predicted a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people by 2030, resulting in almost $8.5 trillion in potential unrealised annual revenues.


The report sets out a number of recommendations to improve the UK’s competitiveness and access to international talent, including:

  • The creation of a global talent working group to set a strategy that combines a broad skills approach with thematic policies such as targeted skills gaps, labour shortages, diversification of the economy and innovation/entrepreneurialism. 
  • Improvement of international trade agreements such as the use of reciprocal Youth Mobility Schemes and the Global Business Mobility Route (which facilitated visa routes to overseas firms establishing a presence in the UK or transferring staff to the UK).
  • Government adoption of new ways of working to access global skills without borders, building on partnerships that enable access to talent leveraging technology and borderless workforces.


Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, Chris Hayward, said:

“Competition for global talent remains fierce, and the UK’s competitor markets are more active in this space than ever. 40% of London’s financial and professional service workforce were born outside the UK, so it’s essential that the UK continues to attract international talent to unlock the full potential of financial services and other fast-growing industries. The recommendations from this report will help firms attract the talent they need to scale up in the UK.

“The UK must create a clear Global Talent Strategy, building our brand as an attractive destination for talent. Immigration policies and key routes should align to that strategy and support the attractiveness of the brand. A key first step towards creating a clear strategy includes creating a global talent working group.”


Seema Farazi, UK Immigration Leader at EY, comments:

“In an increasingly borderless business world, it is more important than ever that the UK approaches global talent with a strategic, long-term view. International talent in the financial and professional services sector is critical to the UK achieving its growth ambitions, and the competition for highly skilled individuals is only intensifying.

“All of the UK’s competitor markets are introducing global talent policies, so without action now, there is a very real risk the UK could fall behind. A Global Talent Strategy – which must be developed to complement the domestic labour market – is now a necessity for the UK to maintain its international competitiveness when it comes to attracting and retaining top global talent.”



Notes to editors

  • The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk