Unemployment in the UK has hit its lowest levels since the 1970s, while wages are surging thanks to the decline in EU immigration in the wake of ongoing Brexit negotiations.
According to official statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), average wages are rising at the fastest rate in a decade and employment has reached a record high in the UK.
Total earnings are up 3.5%, including bonuses, in spite of expectations of a depressed labour market in the lead of up to the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Figures released by the ONS also show UK employment has risen to its joint-highest level since records began at 76.1% of the working-age population. The official unemployment rate has dropped to 3.9%, the lowest since the mid-1970s.
Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions experts, Move Up, said that these figures are good news for South Africans.
“While the latest job market conditions in the UK could mean a slightly longer wait to find the right job, ongoing Brexit negotiations have led to an increase in the number of South Africans working in the UK.
“Higher salaries will only make moving to the UK an even more attractive option for eligible South Africans to consider”.
According to Rennison, many South Africans relocate to the UK for the medium term in order to develop their careers and save money.
“Earning and saving pounds for an extended period of time allows South Africans to improve their lifestyle upon returning to South Africa: a few years in the UK often results in expats returning to buy property and settle back in the country with their young families; enjoying a more comfortable lifestyle at the same time”.
“Assuming that the pound retains its strength post-Brexit, relocating to the UK is a great move that young professionals should still strongly consider,” he said.
Meanwhile, some UK employers have lashed out at the UK government for the decline in EU migrant workers, complaining that small businesses will take a knock.
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation said that their surveys show firms are still experiencing shortages of key staff, saying, ‘this is a big risk to future growth’, with The British Chambers of Commerce grumbling about “the perennial skills shortages plaguing UK businesses.
Last year American think tank, the PEW Institute, reported that over 900,000 people have left South Africa since 1990.
At the same time over four million people have immigrated to South Africa, mostly from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya and the DRC.
According to StatsSA’s Community Survey 2016, while Australia was the number one destination for South African emigrants (26%), the UK came a close second with 25% of all South African emigrants heading to the British islands between 2006 and 2016.