Global survey of nearly 400k workers rank London as most desirable city in the world to work, whilst the UK drops down to fifth in country standings

  • London retains top spot as destination of choice for overseas workers
  • UK drops from second to fifth most attractive country for professionals
  • 62 per cent of British employees willing to work abroad; an 18 percentage point increase since 2014

MONDAY 25TH JUNE 2018: The most comprehensive study into global talent mobility ever undertaken has crowned London the most desirable city for overseas workers worldwide, beating New York, Berlin and Barcelona*. In the four years since the first study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and totaljobs, the UK has dropped three places in overall attractiveness, from second to fifth in the country rankings.

Decoding Global Talent 2018, compiled by BCG, one of the world’s leading management consultancies, totaljobs in the UK, and The Network, a global alliance of more than 50 leading recruitment websites, is one of the most expansive studies every undertaken into workforce migration trends. Shining a spotlight on the UK’s attractiveness to global talent, the research reveals the world’s most desirable destinations for work.

London retains top spot

London has retained its position as number one since 2014, when it was also ranked the top destination by over 200,000 workers from 189 countries. In 2018, London has once again been identified as the most desirable global city, this time by 366,000 workers from nearly 200 countries.

London’s enduring attractiveness does not appear to have been impacted by Brexit, given its prominence as a global financial, business and cultural capital.

UK attractiveness falls

Despite London remaining the first-choice city for workers, the totaljobs and BCG research revealed that the UK has fallen from the second-most popular country worldwide for overseas workers to fifth since 2014, potentially exposing the impact of the Brexit vote two years ago. The US, Germany, Canada and Australia now all rank higher than Britain in terms of attractiveness.

The fall in the appeal of the UK amongst workers has already begun to impact work-related migration. The ONS found that net migration to the UK decreased in the year ending September 2017, with 6.5% fewer European citizens moving to the UK.[1]

Of the countries that judge the UK most attractive to work in, the top five are in English-speaking Commonwealth nations: Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana and Nigeria. The decline in the UK’s popularity is particularly apparent for residents of European countries, the UAE and China, who now pick the US, Australia, Germany or Canada as more attractive places to work.

Lawyers and tech workers, but no social workers

The UK is more attractive than the global average to people seeking highly-skilled and management roles, particularly in the legal, media, technology and science sectors. Meanwhile, social workers, manual workers and those in the service sector are least interested in coming to the UK for work.

UK brain drain

While willingness to emigrate has dipped globally, in the wake of the nation’s ground-breaking Brexit vote in 2016, more UK residents than ever before are now prepared to move abroad for work. Six in 10 (62%) British respondents are open to working overseas, a figure that has increased substantially from 44% in 2014 – which is the highest percentage increase out of any country in the world.

Nearly three quarters of under 30-year olds (73%) are willing to move abroad, as well as those holding advance degrees (72%) and those from job roles related to IT, technology and research (67%).

A notable change from 2014 is that more UK residents are looking to move to Australia, overtaking the US as the most popular destination for British workers. Canada and Germany have also proven attractive to UK talent, in third and fourth place respectively.

Mike Booker, International Director at totaljobs and MD of The Network comments on the findings: “While the UK may have lost some of its lustre, London remains the number one destination for talent worldwide post-Brexit. London’s enduring attractiveness does not appear to have been impacted by the European referendum, and the city’s cosmopolitan reputation as a welcoming, open city for overseas workers remains.

“While international talent continues to come to London, UK workers are also broadening their horizons. With young employees and those with advanced degrees or tech backgrounds eager to move, the UK needs to look at how to retain this highly-sought after talent to address the skills gap.”

Nick South, Partner in The Boston Consulting Group’s London office comments: “This research demonstrates the scale of the talent challenge facing organisations in the UK.  Despite London’s enduring appeal, the UK as a whole has become less attractive to international workers, with a fall from second to fifth place in the rankings. At the same time, British workers’ willingness to work abroad has significantly increased, from well below average in 2014 (44%) to above the average in 2018 (62%). This is the largest increase seen in any country globally.  Together, these two talent trends create a major challenge for the UK.  It is critical for UK private and public sector organisations to get on the front foot and proactively take steps to attract and retain top class talent to ensure their future success.”

The data gathered for Decoding Global Talent provides insights into worker attitudes by age, gender, marital status, education level, salary level, current living situation and a person’s hierarchy in an organisation. For further information regarding the survey (and a comprehensive insight into the data), please visit



About the report: Decoding Global Talent 2018 by Boston Consulting Group, The Network and totaljobs is the most comprehensive study of its kind, analysing the job migration trends of nearly 400,000 people in 197 countries. Research was conducted February to April 2018.  The report can be found here



For more information, please contact:



Phone: 02070256670


The Boston Consulting Group


Phone: 0207 753 8383; 07825 732 083


*The top global cities for workers are:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Berlin
  4. Barcelona
  5. Amsterdam
  6. Dubai
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Paris
  9. Sydney
  10. Tokyo


*About totaljobs:

Formed in 1999, totaljobs is one of UK’s leading job boards, attracting 14 million visits and nearly four million applications from qualified jobseekers every month. 120,000 new candidates register with us each month who have an average of 190,000 jobs to choose from, posted by thousands of employers.

In May 2018, totaljobs partnered with Jobsite to become the UK’s largest hiring platform offering employers the opportunity to advertise vacancies across both platforms from one system, and access to almost half of the UK working population.

Totaljobs and Jobsite are part of the StepStone Group, one of the world’s leading e-recruitment businesses. With a head office in London and offices in Birmingham, Havant, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Glasgow, StepStone in the UK comprises totaljobs and Jobsite plus nine additional job boards. These include:, CatererGlobal, CWJobs, Milkround, CityJobs, RetailChoice, CareerStructure, JustEngineers and emedcareers. Together these brands provide access to 17.6 million searchable candidate profiles.

Visit the totaljobs website:

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with offices in more than 90 cities in 50 countries. For more information, please visit

 About The Network

The Network is a global alliance of more than 50 leading recruitment websites, committed to finding the best talent in over 130 countries. Founded in 2002, The Network has become the global leader in online recruitment, serving more than 2,000 global corporations. We offer these corporations a single point of contact in their home countries, and allow them to work in a single currency and with a single contract—while giving them access to a global workforce. The recruitment websites in The Network attract almost 200 million unique visitors each month. For more information, please visit


[1] Fewer EU migrants coming to the UK for work – ONS