The 6 Reasons Why International Graduates Can’t Land UK Jobs

Feb 15, 2023

International graduates face an enormous challenge in securing graduate-level employment in the UK. Currently, only 7%  of all international graduates succeed.

And with 685,000 international graduates now enrolled in UK universities, an increase of 230,000 in just one year, the outlook for these grads is only going to get worse.

Unless there are radical changes made by universities and educators 630,000 international graduates face the prospect of returning to their home countries after the expiry of their student/graduate visa.

As the UK’s leading graduate coaching company we have a unique perspective and know that there are six key reasons why international graduates are not getting jobs in the UK.

1. Students are not given any help at uni

Universities are not in the business of helping you get a job.

Let’s give that some space to set in.

Some careers require certain degrees. Going to university is sometimes a necessity. That’s all fine. But it has become an implicit conviction that universities are a step towards employment, or indeed an institution that helps you achieve this. And therein lies the harmful misconception – universities do not care whether you are employed. Their career services are lacking (something like only 2% of graduates secured a job through their university career centre), and there’s no real impetus for them to improve. They’re research and educational centres. 

Students assume they are “job ready” by the time they graduate having never once been taught how to navigate the job market. Until universities provide greater career advice, or the system introduces a new step, most students arrive with no knowledge about how difficult the task is going to be and leave no better off. 

The lack of help offered by universities impacts both home and international students. However, this is a key reason why international graduates are not getting jobs in the UK. Not only are international students/graduates navigating a competitive job market, but they are also navigating a foreign one without adequate guidance.

2. Most UK employers are unaware of the Graduate Visa scheme

It has been a year since the UK government introduced their Graduate Scheme Visa. This allows recent international graduates to live and work freely in the UK for two years following their studies. This was meant to increase public and corporate reception of international hires, leading to easier avenues for full-time long-term employment.  This has not been the case.

Our research shows that outside of the very largest of companies over 90% are unaware of the new Visa, are unwilling to learn about it, and even more depressing, are averse to the idea of sponsoring international graduates for jobs in the UK on Skilled Worker Visas. There has not been enough awareness-raising by officials on how simplified and straightforward the process actually is. And this ignorance is impacting graduates in a bad way.

3. Crazy competition

We mentioned the numbers above. They bear repeating. 685,000 current international students in UK universities. There are roughly 2.6 million students enrolled in UK higher education institutions and proportionally more international students at the postgraduate level. Even still, they are underrepresented in postgraduate hires. 

With numbers like these and forces above at your disadvantage, International graduates looking for jobs in the UK need to work harder than anyone else to stand out from the crowd and secure sponsored positions. 

4. Lack of work experience

What no CV, no interview training, no successful cover letter can help with is a lack of work experience. There are just too many needed skills that working gives you. And hiring managers weed out applicants that don’t list it. With most international graduates now only having academic experience, this is a significant reason why international graduates are not getting jobs in the UK.

The best advice is to seek out multiple employability experiences such as internships during your studies. Every employer we know of only interviews candidates that have experience under their belts.

5. CVs are not fit for purpose

The first impression of any application is the CV. Constructing a CV is a practised skill and one we have mastered. There are too many guides and varied advice out there for recent graduates to find their way through. And what used to be only a content and formatting issue has now been augmented in the digital age. Most CVs pass through AI firewalls before being seen by hiring managers therefore, you need to ensure that your CV is optimised for applicant tracking systems (ATS). 

 6. No digital skills

A 2021 report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport predicts that data analysis will be the fastest-growing skill requirement, increasing by 33% in the next 5 years.

McKinsey recently reported that “by 2030, two-thirds of the UK workforce could be lacking in basic digital skills.” Automation, AI development, and the Internet of Things – data is now the driving force behind the UK’s economy. If graduates aren’t endeavouring to learn these basic skills, they’re handicapping themselves against steep competition. 

prompt to send your graduate CV

Conclusion: Why international graduates are not getting jobs in the UK

To conclude, international students and graduates are not given adequate help from their universities to navigate the UK’s competitive job market. This is compounded by the fact that most international students/graduates only have academic experience and lack work experience and in-demand digital skills in their CVs. Additionally, research reveals that of the smaller graduate recruiters, 90% are unaware of the new graduate visa scheme, or are unwilling to learn about it.

We help international students and graduates to get jobs in the UK

At Graduate Coach, we can guarantee a great first job with our one-to-one six-stage coaching program. Our mentoring extends past your first employment, offering you continued support during your career.

Send us a copy of your CV, and a brief summary of your situation, and we will get back to you letting you know how we can help you.

Featured image by Sanket Mishra

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