Sharp rise in non-EU financial workers in the UK

12 Aug 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Skills shortages in the financial sector have led to a major increase in the number of non-EU accountancy professionals applying for visas to work in the UK, according to a new report.

The figure has jumped by more than 65 per cent since 2010 when the UK was in the midst of the recession, contractor services provider SJD Accountancy said. The company obtained official figures from the Home Office, which showed a total of 3,204 non-EU accountancy and finance professionals came to work in the UK last year, a 33 per cent rise on the 2,404 who entered the country the previous year.

SJD chief executive, Simon Curry, said: “With the economic recovery gathering momentum, the skills shortage affecting the accountancy profession is worsening, making employers increasingly reliant on foreign skills to plug the gaps.

“Like many other highly skilled sectors, accountancy and finance is caught between the rock of a growing economy and the hard place of the retirement of the baby boomers, which means that the natural replacement rate is failing to keep pace with demand.”

The majority of visas were granted to people specialising in chartered and certified accounting and financial account management.

SJD said that skilled workers from overseas were needed because UK financial firms had reduced both recruitment and training of UK staff during the economic downturn, and the effects of this were now being felt. In addition, the firm said different skill-sets were also required, because people who had trained during the recession would not necessarily have the expertise or experience to advise expanding businesses in a growing economy.

However, there are concerns that it will be more difficult to fill the financial skills gap with non-EU professionals in future, due to planned changes to the Tier 2 visa requirements, including a likely increase in minimum salaries for staff coming into the UK from outside Europe.