The UK tech industry risks a shortfall in skills to the tune of 800,000 jobs by 2020, according to research published on Sunday by policy group Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec).
The study, first reported by The Sunday Times, urges the UK government to take urgent action and create a new high-skilled visa for overseas tech workers.
In order to qualify for the hypothetical six month visa, immigrants would have to have studied at a designated institution or passed certain exams in specific programming languages. Anyone that doesn’t receive a job offer after the six month visa runs out would have to return to their home country.
Alex Depledge MBE, chair of Coadec, said in a statement: “If Britain is going to succeed in a post-Brexit world, the UK’s tech sector must be able to hire global talent. That means a smart visa system that enables the best and the brightest to come to the UK from wherever they are in the world.”
Tech workers from outside the EU currently have to apply for one of 20,000 Tier 2 visas, which are also open to accountants, solicitors and management consultants, or one of 200 “exceptional talent” visas, which are endorsed by Tech City UK.
Coadec’s report will be launched in Parliament on February 21 by digital economy minister Matt Hancock and MP David Jones, who is the minister of the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU).
Coadec claims that the digital tech sector, which received £6.7 billion from investors in 2016, accounts for 3 million jobs in the UK.
The organisation also claims that on average, three of a tech startup’s first 10 hires are from outside the UK, the report claims.
Taavet Hinrikus, cofounder of fintech firm TransferWise, said in a statement: “For the UK’s tech sector to thrive, we have to find solutions to the current talent and skills shortages.
“It’s everything from how we build the capacity in the UK through education, and how we attract the best from around the world through immigration policies. Post-Brexit, the need is even more pressing.”