The UK tech sector is leading the way in Europe, but concerns over Brexit and a lack of skilled workers is worrying say leaders in the industry.
Last year the government announced that healthcare professionals will no longer be counted against the capped number of tier 2 visas which are issued to skilled workers. This effectively ads another 8,000 or so to the 20,700 already allowed into the UK each year.
However, leaders in the tech industry have warned that this may not go far enough to ensure Britain continues to attract the best people from across the sector. Even so, the news was welcome. The tech industry has been experiencing an acute talent shortage in recent years, as an increase in demand for key skills such as data science is impacted by the British immigration system.
But founders and funders alike said the extra visas were not enough to keep Britain’s tech economy ahead of the rest of Europe
Ophelia Brown, a founder of London-based venture capital firm Blossom Capital, said: –
“Talent is obviously the single biggest concern for any founder and any company being built in the UK right now.”
“To build a world-leading company and world-leading products you need access to the best talent across the globe.”
“This announcement is a very welcome first step – but it is just a first step. If we don’t do more on this, we run the risk of losing our edge in the tech sector.”
In June last year, the then secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Matt Hancock, said:-
“I’m in constant discussions with the tech industry about how … we can have a visa system that both controls immigration, and ensures that the brightest and the best talent from around the world can come here.”
Hancock also announced another step towards that goal: new startup visas, to be introduced in 2019. An expanded version of the old graduate entrepreneur route to residency.
Hancock said the UK would “have a Dragons’ Den style approach so accelerators and entrepreneurs can choose who has the best ideas and then the visa scheme follows.”