For many students, the post-university period is a scary time in ordinary circumstances, as they search for their first graduate job. Unfortunately, Covid-19 added even more concerns to an already stressful milestone.
In 2021, the NCUB showed that the volume of vacancies for entry-level jobs was running at between 55% and 65% of 2019’s levels. This is not surprising, considering global lockdowns and financial uncertainty saw numerous firms cancel vital internships and work experiences.
That said, it’s not all doom and gloom, and the UK graduate jobs market is actually steadily recovering. However, many grads have long dreamt of moving to the continent, or had to forgo their university placement abroad because of travel restrictions. This article will therefore look at the countries across the continent that hold the most promise for young people looking to start their careers abroad in 2022.
1. The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a hotspot for banking and finance roles, while the energy, aerospace and mechanical sectors have a strong presence, alongside IT and communications. In manufacturing especially, logistics and supply chain management is a growing enterprise. This has in turn has led to a rise in demand for SAP experts owing to its wide use by businesses in the Netherlands to organise and optimise their supply chains. These individuals often come in the form of international graduates who can train company staff in the proper use of this enterprise application software.
Though the capital is doubtless a fantastic place for young people, with its bustling nightlife, diversity, and tolerant atmosphere, many other Dutch cities are also on the rise. For example, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Leiden are home to some incredible, unique architecture and museums, and plenty of vibrant bars and restaurants, cinemas and quirky cafés for young folks.
For those settling in the Netherlands to work for more than 90 days, their employer must apply for a combined residence and work permit on their behalf from the immigration department.
Malta tops the Times Higher Education rankings for graduate opportunities and boasts a staggering employment rate of 94.5%. Since the economy is highly industrialised and service-based, the main sectors currently thriving are blockchain development, accountancy, iGaming, IT specialists, and web and graphic design. Malta also has the added benefits of a low cost of living compared to other European countries and a typical Mediterranean climate with highs of 32°C in July and August. The delightful island is bristling with cultural and historical gems too, and its stunning coastline hosts a swathe of harbours, beaches, coves and creeks accumulated over its long history.
However, Malta’s labour market is small (around 170,000 people), which naturally places limits on foreign applicants. Most public sector jobs require proficiency in Maltese, for instance. Unless they are qualified for a highly specialised and in-demand role, likely in the industries previously mentioned, a large majority of the available jobs to internationals will be in B2B services such as marketing and consultancy. If expat graduates are successful in finding work, they still need to obtain a valid travel document and must have secured a work permit before they make their move. Similar to the Netherlands, English is spoken widely across Malta, but shouldn’t make emigrants complacent about learning some Maltese!
According to Master’s Portal, Germany’s sectors seeking expats and foreign workers include “engineering, chemicals, electronics, IT, shipbuilding and machinery”, among others. Though those staying in the country to secure work are often already international students, this is not essential. After all, in Europe Germany is second only to the Netherlands for its employment rate. As Expatica explains, though this figure does not indicate a skills shortage, there is a short supply of skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), “particularly in southern and eastern Germany”.
Similar to the above countries, those planning to work in Germany require a visa or residence permit. Also, in applying for a job, emigrants may need to provide a UK police certificate, and once there, a German criminal record check (which can be filled out online) to make sure they have not committed any crimes in the country.
For young people just starting their careers, moving to Germany may be considerably more comfortable financially compared to other European countries. For instance, the cost of living is around 5% lower than in the UK, and average rent prices are a whopping 12.83% less. Berlin in particular has a great deal of English-speaking roles — another reason UK expats may warm to the idea of moving. Alongside the capital, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich are popular places for young people, not only brimming with formidable architecture and rich history but also unparalleled nightlife, diversity, music and cuisine.
While its economy is small, Sweden is one of Europe’s most exciting and inventive countries, which is not only the birthplace of the modern pacemaker and zipper, but big tech brands such as Skype and Spotify, and retail giants like IKEA and H&M. The capital of Stockholm alone is dominated by IT and fintech industries, but other popular routes for graduates include engineering, construction and healthcare.
Even though proficiency in Swedish is a requirement for many employers, English is also widely spoken. There’s no need to worry, though — Swedish is ranked as a category one language, meaning that in most cases it should be no harder to learn than French or Spanish for English speakers (just watch out for those pesky vowel sounds).
Expats in Sweden can enjoy the benefits of its strong standard of living, and a relatively cheap healthcare system, as well as the scores of natural and cultural attractions. These include the thirty national parks (over 70% of the natural landscape is forested), and Sweden’s mesmerising balance between delicate, frosty winters and stunningly warm and bright summers. Stockholm is notably abuzz with exciting nightlife, but other underrated cities like Gothenburg and Malmö are equally worth considering settling into.
According to the government website, the primary rule for emigrating to Sweden is to have successfully applied for and obtained a work permit before entry.