Tech leaders say UK skills shortage won’t be solved by removing the visa cap

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Leaders in the UK tech industry have said that the government’s removal of a visa cap for skilled migrants may not ensure that Britain attracts the best people in the sector. The industry has experienced a depletion of talent in recent years, despite Britain’s tech firms leading the way in international trade growth.

Theresa May announced the news on Thursday, in effect adding another 8,000 applicants to the 20,700 admitted into the country every year. The move comes from an increased demand for migrants skilled in fields such as data science.

Nonetheless, tech leaders have said that the new measures will not be able to tackle the shortage. Back in May, David Rai, CEO of Sparta Global, raised this issue and argued: “Digital skills are essential for gaining access to a wide range of products and services, but sourcing digital talent in the UK is a significant challenge.”

Ophelia Brown, Blossom Capital founder, said that “talent is obviously the single biggest concern for any founder and any company being built in the UK right now”, and added “to build a world-leading company and world-leading products you need access to the best talent across the globe.”

The UK plans to spend £24 billion on advanced analytics by 2020, an investment that will undoubtedly create jobs and attract new talent. The expanded visa programme is designed to meet this increasing demand, but it is unclear whether it will be sufficient.

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