Recently, 250 of some of the leading entrepreneurs in the UK, including Traavet Hinrikus, Simon Woodroffe, and Justine Roberts came together to create a new request for changes to UK work permits and immigration standards. The open letter created by the entrepreneurs requests the next UK government – whichever party that might be – to commit to new strategies that will support the technology industry.
As the UK continues to gear up for an upcoming general election, the parties are all making individual claims related to tech. For instance, the Conservatives plan on bringing broadband in fibre to all parts of the UK within five years. Additionally, the Labour party has promised to bring free broadband to parts of the country. However, the requests that the tech sector have laid out in the latest document indicate a need for something more than better internet.
Six of the 21 requests in the Startup Manifesto highlighted by the open letter show an overwhelming concern about UK work permits and immigration staffing. The six requests surrounding immigration ask the government to make it easier for companies in the tech sector to hire the talented staff that they need from overseas. The demands also include a request for better implementation of the innovator and Startup visas.
Although the innovator and startup visas were introduced as an alternative to options like the tier 2 work permit in April, only two innovator visas have been granted so far. If Brexit makes it more difficult for tech companies to recruit from outside of the UK, and new visas continue to be highly restrictive and difficult to access, then technology brands will be deprived of crucial sources of talent.
The effect on the industry could lead to serious problems in the UK economy. Currently, half of all the UK’s fastest-growing tech brands have a founder that was born outside of the country.