1,226 tech sector professionals turned down for visas
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1,226 tech sector professionals turned down for visas

1,226 tech sector professionals turned down for visas

Posted on 4th June 2018

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I recently came across an article via Twitter, in which it was noted that more than 50% of the USA’s privately-held start-ups with a worth of $1BN or more (and 43% of Fortune 500 companies) were either founded or co-founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. 

America, of course, is a country famously founded and developed by immigrants from all over the world. A willingness to get-on and be a success have powered it to its position of global dominance today, so the above statistics are probably not that surprising. 

In the UK, in contrast, when we were at the forefront of the first industrial revolution, most of the invention, innovation and development was carried out by the indigenous population. Today, however, things have changed. 

On a daily basis, my colleagues at Be-IT are only too aware of the skills shortages that affect many areas of IT.  We have written, almost ad nauseam, on our blog pages about the industry’s continuing concerns about our immigration system, especially how it ought to look post-Brexit.

However, IT is not the only sector with a claim on skilled immigrants: in recent days the mainstream press have carried several articles lamenting the failure of the UK to allow sufficient overseas doctors to work here, due to the caps on the number of visas allowed.  The politicians are at work now, with the new Home Secretary reported  as taking issue with one of his predecessor’s policy of creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants and pledging to “take a fresh look” at the cap on skilled workers given visas, specifically for doctors. 

Hopefully, this will also make the politicians realise that it’s not just doctors, important though they obviously are!  The recent (last month) Tech Nation report  on the state of IT in the UK was generally very positive, citing the fact that the digital sector is growing 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy and the number of jobs in digital and tech rose at five times the rate of the rest of the economy.

Unfortunately, as this report  in the Daily Telegraph notes, “Between December 2017 and March 2018 some 1,226 IT and tech sector professionals were turned down for visas, mostly because the number of people applying exceeded the monthly limit allowed to enter the UK.

 As the Telegraph article then goes on to make clear, “This is sending the wrong signal to employers, especially multinational firms with a presence in Britain, just when we need them to invest further in the UK. Denying skilled visa applicants says we’re not open to the brightest and best from around the world.”

Fortunately (if that’s the right word), it’s not just digital companies that are affected by this: it’s also retail, finance and manufacturing firms that are struggling to recruit the tech people they need to take their businesses forward. Consequently, the political pressures will, I trust, continue to mount, until the government gets the message: there are lots of talented people who want to come here to take the jobs we currently can’t fill and they should be encouraged, not presented with barriers…

Gareth Biggerstaff, CEO, Be-IT




Posted in News, Opinion, Recruitment News

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