Work in Birmingham

Work in Birmingham
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Updated 2021-10-05 15:06

Located in the West Midlands, Birmingham is the UK's second-largest city after London, with approximately 1.2 million people. Birmingham has achieved the perfect balance between industry and culture, urban and natural surroundings. Birmingham grew to international prominence in the early 18th century thanks to the industrial revolution and the city's world-leading textile trade. Nowadays, Birmingham is a centre for public administration, health, and education services. The city has three universities and a significant student population of over 80,000 students, of whom 5,000 are international. Birmingham's lower cost of living (compared to London), growing labour market, and proximity to London (less than a two-hour train ride) make the city a popular destination among professional expats.   

Why Birmingham is a good place for work 

Besides Birmingham's lower cost of living compared to London, the city is very accessible. You can travel almost to the entire UK from Birmingham and be at your destination in less than four hours. Hence, Birmingham is an excellent option for commuters and professionals whose work requires a lot of travelling. In addition, there are many work opportunities in Birmingham, considering the city is home to more than 40,000 companies, many of which are startups looking for new talent. If you are about to be a student in Birmingham, you will be joining a thriving student community (and potential workforce) of over 80,000 students. 

Besides being an excellent place for work, Birmingham is surrounded by stunning countryside and has over 8,000 acres of parks and open spaces filled with life, especially during the summer months. These spots are great for socialising and maintaining good mental and physical health. In addition, the city offers excellent dining and entertainment options for weekend evenings. Birmingham has five Michelin-starred restaurants and world-class music venues, including the O2 Institute, O2 Academy, and the Symphony Hall, home to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Good to know:

Brummies is the demonym for the people from Birmingham.

Good to know:

Birmingham is the youngest European city, meaning that about 40% of its population is under 25. Meanwhile, the city's population comes from different ethnic groups — about 40% of Birmingham's population is from a non-white ethnic group. 

Useful links:

O2 Institute

O2 Academy

Symphony Hall

The economy of Birmingham

Birmingham's economy revolves around industry and services. Birmingham is the largest centre for public administration, healthcare, and education services in the United Kingdom. High technology, information and communication technology, research and development, and trade also make a significant contribution to the city's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Moreover, events, tourism, and sports have a prominent place in Birmingham's economy. The city attracts millions of visitors every year for its sports events, exhibitions, and national and international conferences. You will also find leading companies involved in the following sectors: shipbuilding, aviation, railway equipment, jewellery, and automobile manufacturing.

Good to know:

Large companies such as Jaguar Birmingham luxury car dealer, Jaguar Factory at Castle Bromwich, and the Cadbury Trebor Bassett chocolate manufacturer are based in Birmingham.

Useful links: 

Jobs at Sonic Automotive 

Jobs at Jaguar Land Rover

Jobs at Mondelēz International snacking company

Birmingham's biggest employers

Birmingham has always been an industrial city since it is here that the Industrial Revolution began to take shape in the early 1700s before the actual transition from hand production methods to machines and new manufacturing processes started occurring between 1760 and 1820. Accounting and finance are also thriving industries in Birmingham. Lloyds Banking Group, one of the UK's largest financial services organisations with about 30 million customers and 65,000 employees, operates a head office in Birmingham, among other cities. Also, in 2019, HSBC moved its headquarters from London's Canary Wharf to a ten-floor building in Birmingham, creating 700 new jobs. However, due to the bank's COVID-19-induced reforms, the banking giant has closed several sites. Birmingham is currently served by the head office in Centenary Square in Birmingham, New Street, the Jewellery Quarter and Sutton Coldfield. Last but not least, the German Deutsche Bank's UK presence is in London and Birmingham, creating new accounting and finance jobs in the city.

If you want to work in the higher education sector, consider the University of Birmingham, part of the Russell Group and one of the most recognised universities globally. It has a vast international community of 5,000 students from no less than 150 countries. The university offers various roles, including academic, technical, and administrative positions, stationed in a beautiful campus and “an intellectually stimulating and diverse environment,” as stated on the university's website.  

Eastside used to be one of Birmingham's underdeveloped areas. It was an industrial wasteland between 1966 when the station closed, and 2000, when plans about its redevelopment began. The first new construction was the Millennium Point, now a Birmingham landmark, which was officially inaugurated by The Queen in July 2002. Belmont Works, an ex-cycle red-brick factory hosted in a Victorian-style building, will also undergo a refurbishment in order to accommodate small businesses, arts organisations, and academics. 

High Speed 2 is a new technology rail system with a bigger capacity than regular trains, which will help to reduce overcrowding, guarantee low carbon journeys, and connect more places faster than ever before. Phase One of HS2, which should be completed by 2033 at the cost of £45bn, will connect London and Birmingham via 31 miles of tunnels and 10 miles of viaducts. With its four phases, the project will support over 34,000 jobs in a broad range of career opportunities, many of them currently in Birmingham. Alongside these developments, the Eastside Rooms, Birmingham's newest conference innovative venue offers job opportunities, too. 

Colmore Business District is the business quarter of Birmingham with over 500 companies (especially law firms) and 35,000 employees. It is a business improvement district (BID) established in 2009 within the geographical area of Colmore. In practice, a BID is an agreement and a collaboration among local businesses in the area to find and manage ways to improve the environment in which they exist. For example, they have upgraded the public space by adding new outdoor seating and organising festivals and events. 

Last but not least, Birmingham's renowned Victorian Custard Factory, close to Colmore, has been redeveloped to a startup and creative hub, hosting workspaces and events' spaces for freelancers, startups, and agencies. Digbeth is a space of collaboration. Besides the Custard Factory, Digbeth is made of other iconic buildings such as Fazeley Studios events' space, Greenhouse, an ideal workspace for incubators and accelerators, and The Bond, which used to be an HP Sauce Factory, turned into offices. 

Useful links: 

University of Birmingham vacancies 

Millennium Point vacancies 

High Speed 2 careers

The Eastside Rooms career opportunities

Colmore Business District  

Digbeth regeneration 

Everyday life in Birmingham 

Birmingham is full of life irrespectively of the time of the day or night. The regenerated canal area is a great place to experience the city's food and pub culture. Bullring & Grand Central was established in 1166 as a market centre, but nowadays it is more of a multi-space for shopping, dining (the bottom floor is a vast food hall), and leisure. It has over 160 shops across three levels. Among the city's many redevelopments is the New Street Station, which has undergone a much-anticipated £600m makeover, and it is now known as the Grand Central. 

If you want to escape the city's hustle and bustle, a short drive away is the Lickey Hills Country Park in Rednal. The park has a vantage point of the entire city right at the top of Beacon Hill. Of course, this is only one of the 571 parks in the city. For more natural beauty, you can spend some peaceful hours at the Botanical Gardens, home to rare and exotic plants, without having to leave the city. If all you want after a tough day at work is to run, Edgbaston Reservoir offers an easy and short (2.8km) route around the reservoir.

Birmingham is not a complete crime-free city, so you have to be cautious and take preventive measures. In 2020, the crime rate was 103 crimes per 1,000 people. Violence and sexual offences are the most common crimes, whereas bicycle theft is the least common. 

Good to know:

Bournville is a model village on the southwest side of Birmingham, founded by the Quaker Cadbury family for employees at Cadbury's chocolate factory. Today, the village is home to Cadbury World. You can take a tour of the iconic factory or buy plenty of chocolate at the factory shop. 

Good to know:

In 2019, the world's biggest Primark opened in Birmingham. 

Good to know:

The 2022 Commonwealth Games, an international multi-sport event, will take place in Birmingham. 

Useful links: 

Bullring jobs

Jobs in Primark Birmingham 

Jobs at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games 

Finding a job in Birmingham

Birmingham salaries are, of course, less high than London salaries. However, the cost of living in Birmingham is lower. According to Payscale, the average salary in Birmingham is £29,000. Birmingham can be an excellent choice if you have the skills that match the city's major economic sectors. If you don't belong to any of these sectors, remember that Birmingham is a strong economic power in which finding a job will be a lot easier than smaller towns in the North or South of England. Searching online, ringing recruiters, and directly contacting the companies you wish to work for is key to securing a job. You can carry out your job search before you even arrive in Birmingham. However, having a Birmingham based address will help you secure a job more quickly.

Tip:

Keep an eye on Expat.com's Jobs in England updates for job opportunities in Birmingham, or post your availability on the England forum

Useful links: 

Indeed 

Jobsite 

Robert Half 

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