HR · 17 November 2017

London’s tech sector fears desertion of international workers

Tech investment
The government has doubled the number of specialist technology visas available to non-EU workers

Technology startups based in London have voiced their struggle to attract top overseas talent, after one in three firms claimed they had lost out on new international hires following Britain’s decision to leave the EU in 2016.

After assessing its members’ attitudes towards Brexit, industry body Tech London Advocates found that almost two-thirds believed London’s reputation as a leading global tech hub had suffered, on top of the one in three who cited struggles to recruit new employees from overseas.

Despite the concerned outlook, over half of the 5,400 tech entrepreneurs polled felt London continued to be the city in Europe to start a new technology business.

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Commenting on the findings, Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said: “Entrepreneurs are defined by their ability to turn challenges into opportunities and the sentiment across London’s tech sector is increasingly one of determination, conviction and ambition.”

He added: “Slowing down access to European talent will make growing a tech company harder, but London is focused on strengthening its relationship with tech hubs across Europe and around the world that are already fuelling our investment pipeline.”

In an effort to show support for the UK’s tech sector, prime minister Theresa May announced that government would double the number of specialist technology visas available to highly skilled international workers entering Britain from outside Europe.

The additional “exceptional talent” visas were announced alongside £61m worth of funding to be included in the upcoming Budget set aside to grow the government-backed Tech City body.

May claimed tech businesses had “the full backing”of government, which intended on securing “a strong future for our thriving tech sector”.

The survey findings also arrived after new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a decline in Britain’s employment levels for the first time in two years.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) warned that workers from within Europe would be crucial filling positions at UK businesses, and urged government to respond to the shrinking talent pool.

“EU nationals are returning home and less are arriving as they feel increasingly unwelcome here,“ said Kevin Green, REC chief executive.

“We cannot afford to lose their skills and their contribution to the UK labour market. The government needs to make this country attractive to EU workers by ensuring their right to work here.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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