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March 30, 2017updated 29 Jul 2022 5:15am

UK should avoid “tech talent cliff-edge” warns TechUK

TechUK warns UK Gov to avoid lack of talent following Brexit and non-EEA rules.

By Hannah Williams

TechUK has released a new report, urging UK politicians to recognise the critical significance of international talent in driving success for a Global Britain.

The ‘Global Tech Talent Powering Global Britain’ report found that the UK’s digital sectors account for 16 percent of Gross Value Added (GVA), 24 percent of total UK exports and three million jobs. From the three million, 18 percent are foreign-born of which one third is from the EU.

UK’s tech sector is believed to face what TechUK refers to as a ‘triple hit’, based on its ability to recruit and retain talent. This is because the UK’s domestic digital skills pipeline still struggles to meet the growing demand.

There is also significant uncertainty on access to EU talent, and following Brexit new restrictions to hiring non-EEA workers could further hinder the industry from April 2017.

The report also urges the UK Government to commit to avoiding a “Tech Talent Cliff-edge,” to ensure that European talent already in the UK stays in the UK.

Read more: Article 50: What UK tech wants and needs as Britain leaves EU

Between the years 2009-2015, 45 percent of net employment growth in the digital sectors was accounted for by foreign-born workers.

The recent triggering of Article 50 has been a cause for concern for tech companies, who face an abrupt termination of access to EU digital talent if no deal is reached.

Charlotte Holloway, Policy Director, TechUK said: “The UK’s tech success over the last decade has been built on access to global tech talent, from successful entrepreneurs who start companies here, to skilled workers in data, cyber and software, through to specialists in our universities driving innovation and commercial spinouts. UK tech must continue to be underpinned by talent that is attracted to and able to work in the UK.”

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The report also calls on the Government to reform the non-EEA migration rules to alleviate shortages faced by companies, and harness digital technologies to ensure a smooth transition in a changing environment for immigration policy.

This means combining these recommendations to create a data-driven immigration system that is calibrated to the real-time needs of the economy, which will not only benefit high-growth industries like tech but also rebuild public trust in controlled immigration fit for Global Britain.

Holloway said: “The Government has repeatedly voiced support for tech in its recent Industrial Strategy and Digital Strategy.

“Now that Article 50 has been triggered, it’s time to back up that approach with concrete details on how the sector will be able to access the talent it needs. The recommendations laid out today will be key in designing a thriving talent environment fit for Global Britain.”

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