A survey of 1,205 people working in tech has found that 74% of tech workers think Brexit is going to make the UK economy worse, not better.
The research — carried out by government quango Tech City UK — found that access to talent is the biggest concern among UK tech workers, with more than half (51%) saying they think it will get more difficult to recruit and retain the best people.
Concerns over investment and access to the single market were close behind.
Almost a third (31%) of those surveyed said they are likely to slow down hiring as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, while 22% said they expect to scale back their planned growth ambitions.
Despite the obvious concerns from the tech industry, Tech City UK claims there are reasons to be optimistic.
“There are unexpected upsides and very real opportunities,” wrote Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech in a blog post on the organisation’s website, titled “Cause for optimism as tech rises to Brexit challenge.”
Grech added: “If there’s one thing tech entrepreneurs are good at, it’s holding their nerve. The slings and arrows involved in starting and scaling up a digital business require a thick skin and the ability to hold on to a vision, come what may.
“It’s these qualities of resilience, as well as risk-taking, that Britain’s tech stars will be drawing on now as they face perhaps one of the bigger bumps in the road yet. And I’m confident that they will make it over the hump.”
In order the make the best of a bad situation, the UK tech community has a series of demands.
Of those surveyed, 70% said they want to hear a clear message on EU residents’ ability to live and work in the country, while 79% want improvements to the visa system.
The UK tech community is particularly keen to see government negotiate to remain part of the European Single Market, with 85% of respondents saying they want existing trade relationships to remain in place.
Another concern among the UK tech community is access to capital, but a number of post-referendum deals suggest that Brexit isn’t putting investors off in the short term, with cybersecurity firm Darktrace announcing a £50 million round and healthcare startup Network Locum announcing a £5.3 million round.
Network Locum founder and CEO Melissa Morris said: “We are a small island and our immediate market is small, this has always been the case.
“The true unicorns [businesses worth $1 billion] of the UK all find ways to break borders. Post Brexit, UK startups possibly have higher barriers to accessing Europe. But the way I see it, the earlier we start to learn to do this the better. Practice makes perfect.”
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