The European tech sector is stronger than ever, but ever since Article 50 was triggered in March last year, there has been a sense of doom hanging over the UK’s tech community. It’s near impossible to escape talk of Brexit, and it remains a key concern for UK tech.

The uncertainty of it all is what really makes this situation difficult. At Talent, we want to be the masters of our destiny – and it’s why we’ll be trying to overcome the challenges ahead, no matter what.

The challenges facing the European tech workforce

No one can ignore the fact that London tech startups have among the world’s most international workforces. In the city, 54% of employees are born outside of the UK, placing London fourth after Singapore, Berlin and Chicago.

We also can’t ignore the government’s inability to agree on what kind of Brexit it wants. As a result, the issue of immigration and how it will impact access to much-needed tech talent in the future remains a prominent concern for the industry. We are a smaller world by nature of technology, and we work far more closely and have the accessibility to trade due to secure technology apps and systems. The UK government needs to gain common ground, allowing tech companies to attract resource from different parts of the globe.

According to the State of European Tech report, British tech founders are most pessimistic about the future of European tech. The report, conducted by venture capital firm Atomico and the Slush tech conference also highlighted the growing fight for talent across the continent.

A total 71% of those surveyed in the UK and Ireland cited the triggering of Article 50 as the one event that had the greatest impact on the European tech sector. Respondents reported that it had had a direct effect on their recruitment. As people’s right to move freely between countries and work in any European nation is threatened, the tech industry needs to start considering ways to help today’s transient technology workforce carry on if they lose the right to work in other countries.

Keeping access to funding and trading

This year’s Tech Nation Report, which maps the evolution of the UK tech sector, paints a similar picture. The report revealed that two of the top three challenges facing companies in the UK’s top two tech clusters are related to Brexit. Topping the list of challenges for London and Cambridge were: access to talent (affected by post-Brexit immigration rules); the cost of living; and Brexit.

According to data from LinkedIn, the UK attracted 21.4% of the international tech talent moving into Europe and 14.9% of talent moving within Europe itself. However, how long the UK will remain the number one magnet for top talent remains to be seen – Germany is already closing the gap, attracting more talent from within Europe. It’s why, as an organisation, we are already thinking broader and establishing the Talent brand in Germany.

In the rest of the country, access to funding was also raised as a concern for the industry (again related to Brexit, after the Brexit vote caused the collapse of funding from the European Investment Fund). However, the fight for talent is not limited to startups. Tech giants looking to expand their presence in Europe and corporate businesses looking to hire tech talent are all contributing to the competition and rise in salaries.

Brexit was always going to have a major impact on the UK tech industry – it’s now up to government and businesses to work out what the situation will entail. Fast.


If you’re looking for a new role in the tech sector, Talent International has offices across the EU and beyond. To keep your career ahead of the curve, speak to the team today.


By Darren Wells