Talented tech workers are hard to come by in the UK – for tech firms and recruiters alike. It’s for that reason the UK government gave Tech City the right to endorse 200 special “Tech Nation” visas a year for non-EU workers, in an attempt to help offset the digital skills shortage.
The scheme, introduced in 2014, got off to a slow start, with just seven people applying for the 200 available spots in the first year. However, things have picked up recently, with the EU Referendum result said to have played a part.
Last week, Tech City revealed that it has received more than 200 applications since April. In the same period last year, it was processing fewer than 20 applications, the Telegraph reports.
Tech City added that the top countries for tech visa applicants were the USA, India and Nigeria, while 72% of applicants were male against 28% female.
As well as coinciding with the Brexit vote, the uptick in applications follows the government’s decision to relax the scheme, which meant groups of tech workers could apply together. Immigration campaigner Josephine Goube hailed the move as “revolutionary” as it allows UK technology companies to hire up to five people outside the EU at once.
The Google-backed Scale-up Institute has argued in the past that a dearth of talented technologists in the UK and Europe is holding back start-ups with great potential.
By relaxing the rules, the government has sought to support start-ups by making access to foreign tech workers easier. However, Gerard Grech, Tech City’s chief executive, has urged ministers to increase the annual cap of 200 tech visas, which looks set to be reached this financial year before April comes around.
“It’s an encouraging set of results. It’s one of those situations where we’re in ongoing conversations with the Government, and we’re keeping an eye on it,” he said. “We’ll have more conversations when we get closer to the limit. They know that tech talent is a growing part of the economy. They also understand that tech talent is a scarce resource.”
Let’s hope those conversations prove to be fruitful.
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