The UK is set to double the number of visas offered to technology workers to 2,000 a year once Britain leaves the EU.
The announcement, made by the Home Office earlier this week, was welcomed by UK technology sector trade association techUK, although it believes 2,000 workers a year will still not be enough to meet demand once the UK loses access to EU workers. Instead, the group would like to see a deal similar to that made with the financial services sector which will see some finance industry jobs exempt from immigration curbs.
“Doubling the number of tech visas is a welcome and practical step towards supporting the UK’s fastest growing sector,” said techUK CEO Antony Walker. “As our economy continues to digitise, more and more businesses depend upon tech talent to support their growth. This isn’t just a London phenomenon. There is going to be huge demand for tech skills in businesses right across the country.”
Walker continued: “For the announcement to be truly valuable, however, the Government must couple it with further flexibility on Tier 2 high skilled talent. It must also address concerns about the speed and costs associated with Tier 1 and 2 visas to ensure they can be used by companies large and small. While this announcement shows the UK’s desire to be open to talent once we leave the EU, it alone will not compensate for the impact of Brexit. There is still a huge amount of work to do to clarify the rights of EU citizens that already work in the sector and to build a fit-for-purpose immigration system once we leave the EU. We ultimately need a light-touch UK/EU visa system based on an ‘ESTA for work’ model where companies can quickly and easily self-certify EU workers taking on roles.”
According to data from the 2017 Tech Nation Talent survey, non-UK workers represent 13 per cent of the digital tech workforce, as opposed to 10 per cent of the wider economy. Although non-EU workers (like those from the USA, India, and elsewhere) represent the lion’s share of that portion, the number of EU-origin techies has been increasing — by 2 percentage points over the course of 2011 to 2015.
Article published 16th November 2017