London at a Glance
Working in LondoniStockphoto
London has mastered the transition to a strong service economy.
Working in London can be both a challenge and an immensely enriching experience. People from all over the world consider working in London, and they do so for various reasons. The city has an immense appeal to global business people, and most multinational companies have at least some staff working in London.
In addition, there are countless micro, small and medium-sized businesses and more than half a million self-employed people working in London, providing services to the global giants. Its nearly 100,000 international students and the high numbers of expats and migrants working in London are a sure sign of the city´s continuing ability to compete on an international stage.
Working in London: Current Economic Situation
The city has made the transition from a labor-intensive to a service economy within the last 30 to 40 years. While in 1971, manufacturing accounted for more than 23% of employment, less than 5% of all people working in London in 2007 were still employed in this sector.
London´s orientation towards financial, business and other services means that the city´s main asset is its human capital. All those people working in London have come from every corner of the earth to offer their expertise and fresh ideas in exchange for new opportunities and experiences.
There are probably more highly skilled workers among all the people working in London than in any other European city, which attracts a big investment community in return. The city prides itself on its commercial dominance, openness and entrepreneurialism. Entrepreneurial skills are indeed much in demand in an economy which places such great value on innovation and creativity.
The city’s largest industry is finance. The over 325,000 people working in London’s financial sector prior to the banking crisis have had to face some serious job and payment cuts since then. With EU economic and budget reforms looming on the horizon, working in London’s banking sector may not be quite the same any more, but the City is still going strong.
Working in London: Fields of Employment
Another big factor of the city´s economic success is, of course, tourism. Not only does London attract around 15 million international visitors every year, but the tourist industry also accounts for more than 250,000 employees currently working in London. The London Olympics are likely to give the number of tourists visiting the capital another boost, as well as increase the job opportunities in this sector for people working in London.
London´s immensely dynamic creative industries also contribute significantly to its economy and provide employment for many highly skilled staff working in London.
With its focus on biotechnology and life sciences and its many renowned universities, the city provides an excellent location for world-class research. Scientists, medical professionals, engineers, scholars, and researchers from all fields working in London enjoy the city´s intellectually challenging climate.
Nevertheless, the big number of highly skilled foreigners working in London also has its downside. No other region in England suffers more from high levels of unemployment, and that is partly due to the fierce competition many locals face from better-qualified migrants or expats working in London.
Working in London: Networking
There are plenty of resources for people who consider working in London. If you have already been working in London for a while, you may have already built your own professional network, consisting of valuable contacts in your industry and other expats. You should make sure to use this network if you are looking to change your employer or to help your spouse start working in London.
While the recruitment process in the UK is usually fair, transparent and based on equal opportunities, the importance of a personal network cannot be underestimated when working in London. As everywhere else in the world, people have their trusted sources, so a recommendation or referral by a business partner can be invaluable. If nothing else, you might hear of future vacancies in a company you would like to work for before anyone else does and thus get a head start.