Last week, techUK Policy Director Charlotte Holloway was invited to give to give evidence to the Economic Affairs Committee in the House of Lords as part of the Brexit and Labour Market inquiry.
The committee included two former Chancellors of the Exchequer, Lord Lamont and Lord Darling, as well as a former Ambassador to the EU, Lord Kerr and a range of other senior influencers within both UK and European public life.
The appearance was a welcome opportunity to tell the story of UK tech as the fastest growing part of the UK economy and a hub for world class talent from Europe and across the world, but also to highlight the importance of maintaining this access to skills post Brexit. Foreign-born talent accounts for 18% of the tech sector and is a vital ingredient to the success of the UK tech sector.
One of the key discussions had with the Committee was around the role of industry in training home grown talent rather than relying on international recruitment. techUK and its members have consistently worked to improve the pipeline of talent within the UK, as demonstrated by the number of commitments made in by tech companies in the Government’s Digital Strategy. This point was recognised by the Committee, who understand that tech businesses are stepping up to help train and develop national talent. However, with a rapidly growing industry and a globally competitive market place, techUK stressed to the Committee that to achieve the aims of Global Britain we must also be a hub for global talent.
The committee session also inquired whether existing rules for non-EU migrants should be applied to EU citizens. techUK reiterated that the current system for non-EU migrants needs substantial reform regardless of any changes for EU migrants. This includes the creation of a smart, data-driven migration system which addresses public concerns but also works for the most dynamic sectors in the UK.
The lasting impression given from the Committee was that key Parliamentarians are keen to use our exit from the EU as opportunity to improve the way we deal with immigration across the board. Getting this right will mean listening to the tech sector, both as a driver of our economy and as the potential solution to a new, data driven immigration system.
For more information on techUK’s Skills, Talent and Diversity Programme and European Exit Programme, get in touch with Doniya Soni and Giles Derrington.