Following post-Brexit immigration policies, the UK has significantly improved its global standing as a desirable destination for highly skilled workers. An international ranking of countries reflects this.

On Thursday, the OECD reported that the UK had experienced the most rapid climb in its “talent attractiveness” index compared to any other nation since 2019. The UK now holds a spot in the top 10, surpassing the US but still trailing smaller countries like New Zealand and Australia, which have historically relied on immigration to strengthen their labour force.

The OECD attributed the UK’s ascent in the rankings to the elimination of its former quota system for highly skilled workers, as well as the success that these workers typically experience in the UK job market.

In addition, the UK has implemented more lenient post-graduation visa policies, enabling international students to pursue employment opportunities upon completing their studies. However, this is an area in which numerous countries are vying for potential applicants. Meanwhile, some nations have fallen in the rankings due to significant visa application processing backlogs or high rates of rejections, and in students’ cases, tuition fees spikes.

These kinds of comparative changes can have a significant impact, as highly qualified workers are becoming more empowered to select the most favorable destination country for themselves and their loved ones.


Recent research characterizes the UK’s post-Brexit migration policies as “the most significant overhaul in the system in 50 years.” The aim of these changes is to simplify the recruitment process for highly skilled workers from all corners of the globe.

In the previous year, net migration to the UK hit an all-time high, which can be attributed to many factors, including an influx of refugees from Hong Kong and Ukraine. This is also a significant increase in international student enrollment, and extensive recruitment efforts by the NHS and care sector.

The quantity of migrants possessing a tertiary education and working in the UK has doubled to 3.4 million since 2010. Furthermore, their percentage of the expanding graduate workforce has grown from 16% to 23%.

Jean-Christophe Dumont (Head of International Migration) – The OECD

Although the government’s plans to address small boat crossings have sparked political controversy, public opinion has become increasingly positive towards migration, despite the fact that the numbers continue to rise. Nonetheless, the UK’s recent migration system provides little visa access for employers who previously recruited freely from the EU to fill jobs with less-qualified workers.

Following significant pressure from business interests, ministers are currently exploring the option of easing visa regulations for mid-skilled positions in the construction and other sectors due to the considerable labour shortages experienced in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Implementing visa pathways for workers possessing mid-level qualifications would be in accordance with policy adjustments made by several other OECD nations, such as Spain and Germany.


We should not regard this measure as a replacement for training British workers and reintegrating those who have abandoned the workforce. However, he believes that it can serve as a supplement to these efforts, and therefore has a role to play in the broader context of workforce development.