Gibraltar – An Opportunity For Graduates?August 8, 2013
Having graduated in the summer of 2011, I made the unusual choice of moving to Gibraltar a few months later to work at one of the region’s gaming companies.
Working as a freelance writer during my studies, I’d made contact with several individuals based there.
With the graduate class of 2013 facing an ultra-competitive domestic job market, I’m going to explore the merits of relocating to Gibraltar.
Graduates afford plenty of thought to travelling after their studies, but less to actually working abroad. If they do, it is to teach English as a foreign language or do volunteer work, rather than forge a career.
As a British overseas territory, I knew that Gibraltar would provide me with all my home comforts. English is the native language, and popular British brands such as Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Topshop are all represented. Gibraltar is no culture shock, and comes with the added bonus of 300 days sunshine a year.
Travel links back home are great – the Gibraltar airport (where the runway curiously doubles up as a road) runs daily flights taking a shade over 2 hours.
From a financial and career perspective, a move to Gibraltar makes perfect sense.
Consider the domestic prospects for graduates, particularly those without a vocational degree. A graduates.co.uk study reveals 39% of graduates remain out of work six months after leaving university, propping up Britain’s 7.7% national unemployment rate.
Recession proof Gibraltar, meanwhile, has a 3% unemployment rate and an annual GDP growth rate of 5-7%.
The tax rate is in Gibraltar is lower than the mainland UK and companies normally pay a premium salary to try and encourage the most talented graduates to head across. Taxes on booze and cigarettes are also low enough to be considered non-existent so if you’re looking to go out in a blaze of glory then you can do so on a budget. The appeal to a graduate workforce is affirmed by this glossy poster.
The 20 gaming companies, which include firms like William Hill and Ladbrokes, are multi-departmental machines all featuring legal, marketing, finance, fraud prevention, customer service and creative divisions.
This means graduates with a degree in IT, Finance, Business, Economics or Law are in great stead for jobs. Gaming companies have an informal and relaxed approach to working life, and culture that really rewards young, innovative thinkers.
Living in Gibraltar
There are pros and cons to Gibraltar as a location.
The intense competition for real estate makes for a concrete jungle, but there’s still beauty to be had, with the rock offering a breath-taking view of Africa on a clear day.
Transport across the 5km long peninsula is excellent, and with sporting and leisure opportunities heavily subsidised by the government, there’s a chance to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. But attitudes towards other services and infrastructure are hijacked from the sleepy Spanish neighbours. Hot water will run out. Internet will perish. Border queues will multiply.
One of the criticisms fired at Gibraltar is the lack of entertainment for young people.
The ex-pat watering holes – “The Cock and Pullet”, “The Quarterdeck” and “The Red Lion” to name but a few – feature a mix of retired gossips, chain smokers and rowdy pugilists, and aren’t really suitable for graduates.
But the tourist-orientated Ocean Village and Casemates Squares offer a younger vibe with trendy bars, restaurants and a casino. And for those with a thirst for travel, Seville is just over 2 hours away by car, Malaga just over an hour and celebrity favourite Marbella within 40 minutes.
Living in Spain is a great alternative for those with a limited budget. The peaceful retreats of Alcaidesa and Sotogrande offer cheap accommodation, and once you cross the border you’re no more than a 15 minute walk to Gibraltar’s commercial hub.
How to apply!
Application is surprisingly easy – there a number of British and European-based recruitment companies who specialise in getting graduates over.
Apply as you would to any job in the UK at places like SRG Europe and Recruit Gibraltar. They’ll usually ask you about your willingness to move, so come across as passionate and flexible about relocating.
As mentioned, the gaming sector is Gibraltar’s biggest, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with how it works. CalvinAyre is the industry leading publication and is a great place to keep track of hot-topics.
The recruitment process usually has two stages – a company will arrange a Skype video-call as an initial screening, before funding you to travel for a face to face interview. Should you secure a role, the company will offer a generous relocation package and temporary accommodation so you can find your feet. You might also get free gym membership and free health insurance cover.
I’d strongly recommend Gibraltar to any graduate. As a small peninsula it tends to fly under the radar as a viable location, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see what it has to offer.