techUK Comment on Immigration White Paper

Today the Home Office published the eagerly anticipated White Paper settig out their vision for the UK's future immigration system post-Brexit. Commenting, techUK CEO Julian David said:

“techUK has consistently called for an immigration system that works for the economy, makes the UK an attractive place for tech talent and is easy for businesses and individuals to understand and navigate. On these issues, the White Paper makes reassuring sounds but not enough in the way of concrete commitments.

“The UK already faces a chronic digitals skills gap with unfilled posts rising by nearly a quarter since last year in the information and communication sector alone. Businesses are making significant investments to upskill their workforce and improve the pipeline, for example through the training of apprentices, but this will not happen overnight. We will always need to have access to global talent if we are to remain at the cutting-edge of new technologies.

“techUK welcomes the removal of the Tier 2 cap, which pointlessly constrained businesses ability to bring in skilled individuals. However, this process must now be streamlined and simplified so that SMEs who previously avoided using the system because of its bureaucracy and complexity – by recruiting from the European Economic Area (EEA) - are not faced with unsustainable and unnecessary burdens.

“techUK is glad the Government has moved away from committing to the £30,000 threshold. We believe salary is not a proxy for skills. However, by bringing EEA nationals under the rest of world system, businesses will now have increased costs to hire talent from visa fees to immigration skills charge. This will be particularly painful for SMEs but will undoubtedly affect tech companies of all sizes.

“All of this has a knock-on impact on the wider economy. The Government’s own estimates suggest that the reduction in long-term EEA migrants could have a cumulative cost of between £2 billion and £4 billion in the first five years – a clear act of self-harm which must be avoided.

“techUK is pleased that the Government will now engage in intensive consultation with business. Government must listen to business concerns and build a smart, efficient and effective system that delivers for UK plc. Once those new rules are decided, businesses must also be given the time necessary to adapt to the changes.”

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