Britain’s Still Got Talent

16 May 2017

When ComputerWeekly shared the results of their first post-Brexit survey taking in responses from over 1,200 UK technology businesses, access to talent was one of the sector’s primary concerns. Continued access to one of the four pillars of EU membership – free movement of labour – was seen as key to many business’ growth plans in an industry driven by people with a specialist skill set.

There has been a lot of rhetoric since regarding how this will negatively impact various UK sectors and stifle productivity and therefore growth and this is true, in part.

To give some context, the UK’s digital sector accounts for three million jobs. Of those three million, 18 per cent are foreign-born and one third of that is from the European Union (EU). The UK, as things stand, cannot fill the widening gap between demand and supply of digitally savvy talent.

The launch of the UK's Digital Strategy aimed to address shortcomings and potential future bottlenecks and, whilst not going far enough in addressing funding in education/CPD in this blogger’s eyes, was at least a step in the right direction to ensuring “nobody is left behind”, and maintaining the reputation that Britain remains the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.

This, however, may all be academic with a Whitehall thinktank stating last week that it is unfeasible to fully create and implement a new immigration policy before the end of the two-year Article 50 deadline.

The Institute for Government’s researcher and report author, Joe Owen, said: “Brexit is an opportunity to design an immigration system that is more effective for the country and less burdensome for employers.

“It’s important that the government avoids making multiple changes and introducing unnecessary disruption and confusion.

“To provide stability, we should continue with the existing migration system until the new one is ready.”

Business leaders urged the government to stand firm rather than create a raft of new rules, which would be a bureaucratic nightmare for firms.

What employers will be keen to avoid is the headache of having to spend a great deal of time and effort getting to grips with and navigating multiple rounds of changes and new rules. That would create a bureaucratic nightmare for employers and recruiters, especially smaller firms and start ups.

Whilst the Home Office will be desperate to avoid uncertainty, they will also be keen to put in place the right infrastructure to build a fair and proper system.

In the meantime, if the government does stick with the current immigration system until a new fit-for-purpose one is fully developed, this may afford additional time for the UK’s tech sector to get in place plans to source the best talent and institute plans to incentivise their best talent to ensure there is no “brain drain” in their ranks.

Part of this will require forward planning and asking yourself the right kind of questions so your business can be prepared. For further information please read our Brexit Planning Guide for your Tech Business.