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November 29, 2017

Brexit: Has the UK tech talent exodus already started?

British software engineers are valued more highly than ever as foreign hires dip amid Brexit.

By CBR Staff Writer

As tremors of the monumental Brexit split approaches, British companies have seen a 6% drop in foreign tech hires compared with two years ago. A study from Hired found just 34% of non-UK workers accepted tech job offers in the UK in Q3 this year, compared with 40% in Q1 2016 before the Brexit vote.


One reason may be that better opportunities could be found elsewhere; tech salaries in London are around a third lower than equivalent jobs in the States. Taking into account the cost of living, the average software engineer earns £81,000 each year in New York and £86,000 in San Francisco. In Britain’s capital, developers can expect around £54,000 p/a, which is 33% less than in New York and 37% less than in San Francisco. That’s not to say there is no poaching from our Transatlantic neighbours — in fact, San Francisco-based candidates receive the highest number of offers out of anywhere else in the US from London companies.

However, the priorities of tech-competent workers may surprise business leaders, given that 45% of job-seekers ranked company culture above salary. Financial incentives outweighed workplace ethos for just 42% of respondents. By comparison, just 16% ranked career development their main priority.

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Opportunities abroad haven’t escaped the notice of UK tech workers, with half considering a job beyond Britain’s shores. With Brexit on the horizon, nearly three-quarters (70%) of those mulling over moving would give in to the siren call of a European city. A further one in ten have their sights set on North America.

The apparent drop in outsourced talent has put British software engineers in more demand than ever, with 70% of UK tech workers saying recruiters have contacted them more since the Brexit vote. Nearly 80% of tech workers on the Hired platform – spanning the UK, US and Canada – are approached by recruiters once a week. Almost all (95%) are approached at least once a month.

Great talent is still trickling through from the continent, with 28% of UK placements from other parts of Europe or the US. European candidates were drawn primarily from Sweden (16%), Spain (14%) and France (13%).

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The new findings support contemporary research from Tech London Advocates which found 55% of tech company founders felt the biggest threat to the sector is Brexit’s impact on access to talent.

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