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The technology industry has been one of the loudest voices speaking out in opposition to Brexit. However, new research shows that it is likely to suffer much less as a result of Brexit than previously thought.
In the past, important figures in the tech industry have voiced concerns that Brexit might have an impact on the already strained skills shortage throughout the UK. However, research has shown that the makeup of Britain’s tech industry is quite different than originally thought. Most of the overseas workers that make up the 1.7 million strong industry are non-EU citizens and therefore won’t be impacted by the Brexit proceedings.
The majority of workers in the UK in high tech visas are hired through the tier 2 visa system. UK tech companies understand the importance of hiring the best talent and are therefore the majority are registered as Tier 2 sponsors. This means that they are able to recruit from around the world, and aren’t as reliant on EU workers.
The study, conducted by Tech City UK, has shown that of the 13% of overseas workers currently employed in the tech industry, over half are from outside the EU. The study also found that non-EU workers employed in the tech industry are more likely to be highly educated. The report found that 17.6% of non-EU workers were educated to Masters or PhD level, while only 12.5% of EU workers were educated to the same level.
The UK tech industry is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the UK economy, so there is clear cause for concern when it comes to Brexit. Despite the report showing that the UK tech industry isn’t as reliant on EU workers as previously thought, there is still the concern that it’s becoming more expensive to hire non-EU workers. In 2015, the government raised the income threshold for Tier 2 visas, meaning that employers would have to offer higher wages in order to be able to consider non-EU workers.
For employers hoping to hire overseas talent, they can either become Tier 2 visa sponsors, or they can take advantage of the Tech City Tier 1 visa endorsement. This allows “potential world leaders” with exceptional talent in the technology sector to work in the UK with Tech Nation as their visa sponsor. This is a much cheaper path to working in the UK with the entire process costing under £600, as opposed to £1,174 for a 3+ year Tier 2 visa.