The labour market in the UK is often described at a local, regional and national level. Here we describe the labour market at the National level and also the North West regional level, particularly Lancashire

At a national level the U.K economy is currently in a state of revival after the devastating effects of the 2008 economic crisis. The U.K has the 5th largest economy in the world and 2nd in Europe behind Germany, the U.K economy was worth an estimated £1,818bn in 2014 (Source – Cebr Global). The U.K economy is mainly dominated by London and a strong financial sector (City of London). However the Service sector employs the majority of the U.K workforce with 78.2% employed in Services, 21.1% in Industries and 0.7% in Agriculture. The Public sector is also a large employer with 17.4% of total employment in England, 22.1% in Scotland, 24% in Wales and 27.9% in Northern Ireland.(Source – Office National Statistics - ONS). In the United Kingdom, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force and is 4.9 percent in the three months to June 2016. There were 1.64 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), (890,000 unemployed men, and 750,000 unemployed women. Unemployment rates amongst Young People (16-24) is considerably higher currently at 13.7%. The unemployment rate in the UK has dropped for some years and is currently at the level it was in 2005. The North West of England is broadly in line with the national picture. The main industries sectors and the numbers of people currently working in them in the UK are: Human health & social work activities (including care jobs) 4.2m, wholesale and retail 5m, manufacturing 2.7m, Construction 2.3m, transport & storage, 1.6m, Accommodation and food services 2.3m, Information and communications 1.4m, Financial 1.2m, Professional services 3m, Administration and support 2.9m, public admin 1.5, education 2.9m (Labour Market survey June 2016)

The North West of England, and in particular the county of Lancashire has historically been an area dominated by mill towns and the cotton industry. Towns such as Accrington, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Bury, Chorley, Colne, Nelson, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale and Wigan were major mill towns, whereas Morecambe and Blackpool were major centres for tourism due to their location on the coast. Lancashire’s current administrative hub is the city of Preston. Lancashire has a population of around 1.5 million, with 620,000 in work and around 45 – 50 thousand businesses. Many of the businesses are small in size, with 95% employing less than 20 people. However there are around 80,000 employed in Manufacturing and 20,000 employed in the Aerospace Industry which is the single largest concentration of Aerospace employment in the country (Source - National Careers Service). Key employers in Lancashire include (in relation to numbers employed): B.A.E Systems, Rolls Royce, Baxi Group, Leyland Trucks, Crown Paints, Toshiba Westinghouse UK, Enterprise Group, Waitrose, Booths, Dr Oetker, Merlin Entertainments.

The largest private industry in Lancashire is the Defence Industry, B.A.E Systems Military Air Solutions in Warton, B.A.E Systems Global Combat Systems in Chorley, Ultra Electronics in Fulwood and Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick. In April 2016 a new enterprise zone was created at Blackpool Airport which will provide more opportunities for employment and to boost the Lancashire economy. The U.K has limited large scale manufacturing but does have very specialist and high tech industries such as I.T, Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Aerospace, Precision Instruments and Automotive.


An individual’s right to work in the UK depends on a number of factors. This includes their nationality and the terms of their permission to enter and remain in the UK.

If you are a British Citizen, a Swiss national or a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) then you do not need permission to work in the United Kingdom*. Nationals from the EEA do not need permission to work in the UK and are able to work without any restrictions. You simply must provide a copy of your passport or national ID card as proof of your right to work. Note *In 2013 the UK introduced the Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations, and this places certain restrictions on Croatians working in the UK.

In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union, and this means that tighter restrictions may be introduced.

If you are an asylum seeker.

An ‘asylum seeker’ is someone who is unable to seek protection in their home country, and who is claiming to be in fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Successful applicants will gain refugee status and will be allowed to stay in the UK for five years. If the situation in their home country has not improved after those five years, they can apply to stay permanently. When you have gained refugee status you can apply for jobs and get work.

Overseas nationals (outside of the EEA)

If you are from a country outside of the EEA and you wish to come to the UK to work, you will need to ensure that you have the relevant ID and work authorisation documentation to legally work. For more information about eligibility to work in the UK. Click Here


Jobcentre Plus

Is the government’s national agency to help find people a job and there is one located in most towns in the UK.

The purpose of Jobcentre plus is to support job seekers to find work. They are worth visiting because thy also provide free and friendly advice on what jobs are available locally, how to look for jobs, and the best way to apply for work.

Looking for work online

The internet and online job hunting has transformed the way we look for jobs, making our searches quicker, easier and often a lot wider. If you want to avoid checking through hundreds of vacancies, it is important to make your search as targeted as possible. But there’s an art to looking for work: check the deadline or closing date for applications. Most sites are good at removing vacancies that have passed. But it is always a good idea to double-check the deadline. Don’t waste time sending an application that might not be considered. If you’re not sure, email the employer or phone the company to check that the vacancy still exists.

Think laterally

Opportunities can spring up in the least expected places. If you’re not finding the right vacancy for you, try browsing related categories and searching by alternative job titles, or widen the geographical area of your search.

Beware of false opportunities

If a job sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Some recruitment sites overplay the vacancies they have on offer, just to try and get people to sign up with them.

Do your research

It pays to find out about the companies you're interested in and what they're like to work for. Of course, you can visit individual company websites but another useful technique is to check online company reviews on sites like: Glassdoor, Milkround, or Prospects

Put yourself out there

Business networking sites such as LinkedIn and Spoke are very popular among jobseekers who want to promote their skills. These sites allow you to develop relationships that can lead to finding unadvertised vacancies. A little bit of self-promotion can go a long way

Word of mouth.

Many migrant workers get work through word of mouth. This is simply chatting amongst peer groups or friendship groups and hearing where workers are needed. The larger your network the better chance you have of hearing about a possible job!

Spec letters.

These are letters you write to companies who are not advertising for work, but may consider you. By writing a spec letter, you are demonstrating pro-active initiative, which is something that many employers find attractive, so you never know!. A spec letter may also include your CV.


English language

Most jobs in the UK require you to speak a reasonable level of English. If you can’t there are a number of places you can go to get English lessons. These are often called ESOL classes (English for speakers of other languages) or EAL classes (English as an additional language). These will often be available free of charge from the nearest Adult Education provider. The government has set a minimum standard for migrant workers to ensure they can speak English at an acceptable level.


Job specific training is often provided by your employer, so they may require you to do an induction (introduction) training course, or specific skill courses to ensure you can carry out the job effectively and safely. Other organisations may require you to do study vocational qualifications at a college, an adult education centre or online. In most cases the employer will pay for this, but not always.


We have a developed a flow diagram and supporting text to help you navigate your way through applying for a job.

Application forms

In the UK most jobs require you to fill in an application form, or send in a CV or Resume. An application form is a set of questions which will allow an employer to assess whether your experience matches a job specification in terms of knowledge, skills and experience.


There are many websites and places where you can advise on how to construct a CV. A CV should detail your work and volunteering experience, and it is a good idea to tailor it to the job you are applying for. They should be no more than 2 sides long, and should include your contact details. When employers have considered your application form or CV, they may invite you to an interview.


An interview is a face-to-face meeting with yourself and one or more representatives of the organisation you have applied to. Some employers use recruitment agencies to do this filtering process so the interview may be with an agency who will then either recommend or not whether your application is considered further. Your presentation at an interview needs to be consistent with what you have written. It is a good idea to turn up early or on time but never late. Turn your phone off, dress smartly and be enthusiastic about the job Prepare for standard questions: Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What can you bring to the role?


There are several types of contacts that employers will require you to sign up to when working in the UK, and the contract depends on the way you are engaged to work. The most common contract is a contract of employment. This is a two sided agreement between you and the employer. The employer will state the requirements of the job and will offer remuneration (pay) for doing it. From your side you will be required to report to work and carry out the work asked of you to an acceptable standard. This differs from a contract of services, which may be offered by some employers where a particular piece of work needs doing and you tender and get the work. Here you are not an employee but a contractor. You agree a rate for the whole job, and you will be required to do it within the time scale, and submit invoices to be paid.

Other contracts may be given on a self-employed basis. These are typical in the building trade, and here you have the same status as a contractor and are effectively self -employed. Fixed term contracts are also common in the UK. For example, the job may state it is for a fixed term of 6 or 12 months only. This type of contract comes to an end at the time stated, so you need to take steps to find another job before the contract ends, to ensure you are not out of work. All contracts of employment should come with an agreed paid holiday scheme. This means that the employer will allow you to take days off during the year as holiday, and will pay you for those days.


Jobs in the UK are generally advertised as full time, which means you will work between 35 and 45 hours a week, usually over five or six days. Or part-time, which could be any number of hours up to 35. When applying for part-time work it is important that you establish exactly how many hours you will be required to work, before you accept the job. In the UK some jobs are offered on a ‘zero hours’ contract’. This means that the employer is not obliged to give you any work if he hasn’t got any to give. With zero hours contracts it is best to speak to others who work in the same job, to establish how many hours you are likely to get. There is no upper legal limit of hours, but most employers will not offer more than 49 per week.


Payment for work is usually made either once a week or once a month, in arrears. If you are on a monthly salary, then you will receive one twelve your salary each month. If you are on an hourly contract, then you will receive the number of hours pay you have worked at the agreed pay rate. In the UK there is a minimum wage which is currently £7.20 for people aged 25 or more. This means the employer is required by law to pay at least this rate. If you earn more than £155 per week or £672 per month you will have National insurance deductions taken off your pay. And if you earn more than £210 per week or £916 per month you’ll have tax taken off as well.