Tech sector report highlights visa problems in industry

15 Jul 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK’s immigration policies have been highlighted as a significant issue for fast-growing technology businesses in a new report.

The annual Innovation Economy Outlook, put together by Silicon Valley Bank, looks at executives’ views of their sector and what opportunities and challenges there are. Although the industry is growing rapidly and 99 per cent said they expected to hire staff this year, 96 per cent said that finding the right skilled people remains an issue. In addition to technical staff, fast-growing firms also required sales, marketing and development talent.

The study found that 17 per cent of executives listed immigration as their major source of public policy concern and that 10 per cent wanted the Government to look again at its immigration policies to allow more overseas skilled workers to be employed in the UK.

Silicon Bank said that there is worldwide competition to attract the best skilled workers and it is concerned the difficulties that firms face recruiting overseas staff will impact on the UK’s competitiveness.

The bank said: “It’s worth noting that if businesses can’t hire global talent in the UK, they may decide to open offices overseas to recruit the talent they need. The best talent is globally mobile and they could decide to focus their recruiting efforts in other parts of Europe which are more receptive.”

Although a high number of the bank’s US clients opt to open their European headquarters in the UK, there are fears that businesses may look to other European nations where it is easier to bring in foreign-born talent.

In the longer term, the bank said that the growth of start-ups could be affected by British immigration policies, with businesses looking to countries such as Ireland as bases, rather than the UK.