Should British designers work abroad post Brexit?

Millennials like me are incredibly lucky. The interconnected world we live in provides tangible global opportunities unlike anything any generation has ever experienced.

I've spent the last decade living and working in the lovely seaside town of Bournemouth, and in that time I've watched the town go from sleepy old seaside haunt to heavyweight contender on the global digital scene. Achieving the accolade of being the fastest-growing digital economy in the UK, a country that is itself a world leader in this area, is certainly no mean feat. Also see our designer's guide to Brexit for more on this.

Buy the ticket

The high standards of innovation and creativity in the UK digital sector are internationally recognised, and having a UK degree or UK experience to go with your design portfolio is currently in strong demand worldwide. With this in mind, at the end of last year I said goodbye to friends and family, sold most of my possessions and headed off into the wild blue yonder, armed with only a backpack and my laptop.

My first destination? New Zealand, or Aotearoa, which in Maori means 'land of the long white cloud'. Why the land of the long white cloud? For one thing, it's a country I've always been drawn to due to my love of the outdoors. And then there are the other pulls. 

When you couple the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery and high quality of life with the fact that the digital economy here is currently growing by 10 percent every year, it was an easy decision to make. The fast-growing digital economy and low population means that job opportunities in design are abundant – with a wealth of positions available and not enough talent to fill them. Within my first week in Auckland, I was offered six different roles and went from initial application to starting a contract in less than seven days.

Take the ride

There are similar opportunities in major cities across Europe and the rest of the world right now, and with the recent UK referendum result and Brexit looming on the horizon, now could be the perfect time for British designers to live and work abroad while the option is still available. If you feel like you're not reaching your full potential in the UK, then get out there – buy the ticket, take the ride. It is a life-changing experience, and really isn't that difficult. 

Working holiday visas are readily available in a lot of countries, and they are inexpensive and simple to apply for up until the age of 31. Conversely, Europeans who want to move to the UK should do so now while free movement persists if they can, although at the moment their future right to live in the country is by no means guaranteed.

As for me, how long I'll stay here remains to be seen. Will I ever return to the UK? Who knows. Where will I go next? I have no idea. But then again, that's kind of the point.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 258; buy it here

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Lee is a digital designer, developer and producer currently based in Auckland, New Zealand. He has over 10 years’ experience in digital, and has founded his own design agency.