Introducing our Reward Partners: See special offers
What Add job title, key skills
Scroll for more!

Cotton on to a career in Oxford

Published: Thursday 23rd April 2015

When most people think of Oxford, the first thing that comes to mind is its renowned university, and for many of us, the next thing to jump into our heads will be one or other of those distinguished fictional detectives, Inspectors Morse and Lewis. But for the job seeker, there’s a lot more to Oxford than dreaming spires and fictional sleuths. Oxford is a rapidly growing city that’s home to around 155,000 people and will increase to 165,000 by 2021. And with growth comes opportunity.

Oxford job market statistics

According to Oxford City Council, approximately 4000 businesses are based in the city of Oxford, providing work to around 106,000 people. These businesses are a diverse selection of public and private concerns active across a large number of market sectors.

Better yet, the job market in Oxford is doing rather better than the national average. The unemployment rate – 3.2% of 16-64-year-olds as of September 2014 – is significantly below the national average. 

With a full-time student population in excess of 22,000, you’d rightly expect that Oxford University would be one of the city’s major employers. But perhaps you’d be a little more surprised to discover that it’s the biggest employer in Oxfordshire. As of March 2014, the university (combined with Oxford University Press) employed a total of 16,200 people.

Photo of oxford

Career opportunities with universities

Oxford University isn’t just a big employer, though, it also offers great diversity in terms of the type of work it provides to people. Apart from academic staff, the university also employs roles for accountants, scientists, project managers, administrators, porters, receptionists, plumbers, gardeners, technicians, secretaries, IT support officers and swimming pool assistants amidst a host of other roles. 

Oxford Brookes University may be less well known than its illustrious neighbour, but it is also home to a large student population and employs around 3,000 people.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are both headquartered in Oxford itself. Although there have been some cutbacks in the workforce on account of the economic recession, the two Councils continue to be major employers in the locality, as do Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Job opportunities regularly come up with all of these public bodies, so it’s worth checking their websites on a frequent basis.

The largest private-sector employer is BMW, whose plant at Cowley assembles various models in the Mini range. The plant has recently benefited from additional investment, resulting in the number of employees rising from 3700 in 2013 to 4000 a year later. 

A career in motorsport

If you’re interested in a career in motorsport then you’ll know that Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited, one of the world’s most successful Formula One teams, is based only about 14 miles from Oxford. In addition to competing at the top level of world motorsport, the company has an advanced engineering wing that’s active in a number of fields, including renewable energy, defence and sports science. Williams employs around 600 people in total, and the variety of work on offer is readily apparent from a glance at the careers section of their corporate website.

Williams isn’t the only world-class motorsport company in the Oxford area. The Lotus F1 Team is based at Enstone, about 17 miles from Oxford, and employs around 500 people. And there are several other motorsport related businesses in the area, the best known of which is Prodrive, a motorsport and engineering concern that currently runs the Aston Martin Racing programme in the World Endurance Championship as well as international rallying and rallycross programmes for Mini and Volkswagen. Headquartered at Banbury, about 30 miles from Oxford, Prodrive also has an advanced technology department that works in the automotive, defence and marine sectors as well. Between its two sites at Banbury and Milton Keynes, Prodrive employs around 500 people with, as you would expect, an emphasis on engineering and fabrication work. 

Prodrive, Lotus and Williams are examples of a growing hi-tech industry in the Oxford area. The Oxford Science Park is home to about 60 companies involved in the science, innovation and technology sectors but, with around 1500 companies active in those sectors in Oxfordshire, it’s very much the tip of a rather large iceberg.

Tourism opportunities in Oxford

We mustn’t forget that Oxford is, of course, a prime destination for both tourists and business visitors. It is the 53rd largest city in the United Kingdom, according to figures published in 2013, yet ranks 9th in terms of the number of international visitors each year. Approximately 9.5 million people visit the city every year. According to Oxford City Council, the annual value of this to the local economy is around £770 million. The need to cater to this important source of revenue means that there are opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sectors, ranging from kitchen staff to hotel and premises management.

So, for all the poetic grandeur of those dreaming spires, Oxford is a place that very much combines the modern and the traditional when it comes to career opportunities. And that’s good news for the job seeker.

If you are looking for jobs in Oxford, why not try Zoek. Zoek is the new mobile app which helps you find jobs in a smarter, faster way. The app can be downloaded on iPhone or Android for free and includes thousands of vacancies from hundreds of employers.

For more job hunting top tips visit the Zoek Blog or follow us on Twitter

Interested in finding out more about the subjects raised on this page?
Simply click on the tags below to read related blog posts...