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Knowing what job and business opportunities can currently be found in the United Kingdom is not only of interest to UK citizens. Expatriates who are hoping to move to and make a living in the UK without being sent there on an assignment by their current employer will be similarly keen to know what their chances of getting a job in their new home are going to be like. Some might even plan to open a business in the UK by themselves. Information and preparation are then immensely important so that the endeavor does not fail before it has even begun.
The UK, like so many countries, was hit hard by the global finance crisis, not least of all due to the importance of banking in the British service sector. Unemployment rates, while falling, are now still over 7 per cent and job opportunities are scarce in some parts of the country, especially in the North. However, the economy is picking up: The third quarter of 2013 saw an increase of 1.9 per cent in Gross Domestic Product compared to the third quarter of 2012, and a 0.8 per cent increase alone could be observed when comparing the second and third quarter of 2013. Further growth in 2014 is predicted not only by the British Chamber of Commerce (2.7 per cent) and Office for Budget Responsibility (2.4 per cent), but also by business groups such as the CBI (2.4 per cent). With this increasing growth and new optimism in the economy, job and business opportunities are also looking up, especially in the Greater London area and the South East of the country.
This is particularly true for the services sector: Information, communication and computer services are growing more and more important in industrial countries and the United Kingdom is no exception here. Furthermore, London continues to be one of the main finance centers in the world, even in light of the financial crisis, and employment in this sector has begun to grow again. Other high-end business services, such as for example insurances, are similarly important for the UK’s economy.
However, it is not only the services sector that offers potential business and job opportunities. The British aerospace industry, both military and civil, is the biggest in Europe and one of the largest worldwide with leading companies like Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. Opportunities in other fields of advanced engineering, such as the automotive industry, should not be underestimated either, especially when keeping the growing importance of green technologies and services in mind. In addition to that, the UK has a high-performance chemical and pharmaceutical industry which is also providing a significant number of jobs in the country.
Some might, however, not be looking for employment but for a chance to start their own business in the UK. Provided that you have a feasible business idea, opening up and doing business in the UK is comparatively easy. The 2014 “Doing Business Report” as published by the World Bank ranks the United Kingdom on 10th place when it comes to the ease of doing business there. This means that the island nation is not only ahead of the report’s average (29), but also of such countries as Germany (21), France (38) and Japan (27). This ranking is created by taking into account not only the complexity of the actual process of starting a business, but also by looking at such factors as property registration, trade across borders and taxes, to name only a few examples.
Common business structures when starting a business in the UK are sole traders, business partnerships and limited companies. In the first case, the sole trader as an individual runs and is solely responsible for his or her own business. This means that they will also be personally liable for any and all financial losses. In a business partnership, all partners share this liability and the responsibility of the business. In both of these cases, sole traders and business partnerships, one has to register as self-employed. Limited companies, on the other hand, enable the one starting a business to keep personal and business finances separate, for example when paying taxes. Private limited companies need at least one director and a registered office in the UK. Expatriates or other internationally minded people who want to start and run a business in the UK are, understandably, expected to be living there while doing so. This means that if they are not a Swiss national or a citizen of a country that is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), then they will need to get the necessary visa and work permit first.