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In today’s globalised world, now, more than ever is the availability of highly skilled talent easier to access. Highlighting this and many other key concerns is techUK’s latest report, Global Tech Talent Powering Global Britain. The report was launched at the House of Commons, with global tech recruitment company, Computer Futures, attending with other tech heavyweights and government bodies including Facebook, Fujitsu, and more. 

Computer Futures, Associate Partner, David Curtis attended the launch and joined the calls of MPs and other companies to ensure we maintain a flexible, two-way route for tech talent. With 18% of the digital sectors’ three million workers being foreign-born and one-third of those from EU countries, it’s essential that we continue to remind ourselves of this as we enter the post-Brexit era. 

Calls for action

In a speech at Lancaster House on the 17 January, Theresa May said what we all want to achieve, “A secure, prosperous, tolerant country – a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead.”

Blazing a path for this and securing leading positions in the market are companies that innovate. MPs and organisations both large and small, UK based and across the globe are all calling for similar action. In attendance at the launch were MPs Louise Haigh (Shadow Minister for Digital Economy) and Nigel Adams (MP for Selby and Ainsty) along with guest panellists Michael Keegan (Fujitsu Chairman), and Sunder Katwala (Director, British Future).

Louise called for “seamless travel” of tech talent, and highlighted that the Government’s Digital Strategy was not currently on course and that an astonishing 61% of businesses were reporting weaknesses in IT skills.

Nigel continued explaining that talent migration worked both ways, highlighting that 18,000 Brits were currently working in Berlin. He called for the government to send a clear message on the right to remain (EU nationals working in the UK) and asserted, “We don’t want to see any talent flight from the UK.”

Discussions are ongoing

On the panel, Michael Keegan argued that the tech industry was cross-border and tech talent shouldn’t be viewed in terms of nationality. He also stressed that tech is the backbone to every sector and that “talent is everything”, explaining that the industry would need to raise its voice to government to ensure common sense would prevail in a digital age.

Sunder Katwala added that the Brexit vote was not anti-skills - as a recent survey suggested 84% of people wanted EU nationals working in the UK to remain here - but more a reflection of the public’s distrust and ability in the government to manage immigration. He spoke of Brexit as an opportunity for change and that the tech industry should build a stronger link between domestic skills and skilled workers coming into the UK.

Triple hit

Speaking after report launch David Curtis commented, “As global tech hubs work harder than ever to ensure a sustained availability of tech talent, countries need to understand the compelling desire of companies to source the best talent from all over the world. The percentage of foreign-born workers is now at 45% of the net employment growth between 2009 and 2015, with EU-born workers contributing to this the most, in relative terms, to the sector’s success.”

“In the recent techUK Report, there was an apparent impending ‘hit’ that may impact the growth of talent and the ability of companies to attract, recruit and retain the best tech talent. The triple hit; Brexit, recent and incoming changes on skilled migration from outside the EEA and the long-standing and growing shortages in domestic digital skills are all contributing factors to ‘hit’ the UK,” continues David.

The cliff-edge

“techUK is outlining a range of recommendations to the Government for them to commit to, in order to avoid a ‘tech talent cliff-edge’. From working to ensure European tech talent in the UK stays in the UK, reform non-EEA migration to alleviate existing tech talent shortages and harness digital technologies for a smooth and frictionless transition to new smart migration system, to name a few,” said David.

“All companies, across the UK and the globe want the best possible outcome for the future of tech talent. It’s imperative we all work together to ensure a solution that furthers our progress as a globalised society to have open solutions to deliver a sustainable future of tech talent,” concludes David.

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