Technology and Brexit: Why championing tech in Britain is key to surviving Brexit

Economy & Politics | Reports | Technology

Written by Andy Rogers, Amdaris

We are more than two years on from the Brexit vote and uncertainty still reigns as we approach the date for leaving the EU. It has become a clear distraction that looms, like a dark cloud over every board and management team. It is the event of our times, it is hugely important and is having far-reaching implications for our future.

Being part of the tech community, we see ourselves as an innovative nation with ideas-a-plenty and many opportunities ahead of us. We need the right environment to be innovative and to bring digital transformation and modernisation within our businesses.

I believe it is this rich heritage of creativity and innovation that needs space and investment to grow. Our investment in tech innovation will be a key component to growing the post-Brexit economy.

The challenge that Brexit is bringing to our technology ambitions is the destabilising effect on the lifeblood of this movement. Tech talent is getting squeezed and practical solutions are needed to ensure that it doesn’t undermine our nation’s innovation engine.

According to research by Robert Walters, totaljobs and Jobsite who surveyed over 550 technology professionals across the UK, 81% of employers expected their workload to increase throughout 2018. Furthermore, the study found 89% of those surveyed acknowledge a skills shortage.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that immigration from the EU has over halved since the vote. This inevitably has impacted the availability of technology talent from the continent.

With a no-deal Brexit, there will be further disruption around EU citizens moving to live and work in the UK. Thinking further afield is also challenging as tech firms are limited in their ability to recruit new employees from outside the EU due to restrictions imposed by the Tier 2 visa cap.

Net migration figures continue to be steady largely due to the numbers of foreign students coming to the UK. Unfortunately, this is not a remedy for the shortage in technology jobs.

The ONS data also found that between September 2017 and September 2018, there was an increase of 79,000 jobs in Information and Communications in the UK.

Open roles within the tech space would have to be filled by UK talent, and technology innovations could struggle to scale as quickly as the demand requires them to.

The Robert Walters study also found the UK skills shortage is having a huge impact on talent affordability. More than a quarter of hiring managers admitted the high-calibre candidates they manage to source are receiving multiple job offers. This creates a very competitive market, driving salary increases which are crippling for start-ups and SMEs.

Further uncertainty and talent shortage may eventually hit demand as research commissioned by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s office found even in the event of a two-year transition deal, there could be 36,000 fewer tech and science jobs in the UK.

It is a vicious cycle where the locally available skills can’t keep up with demand and the business opportunities generating this demand will crumble because of a lack of local talent. In order to ensure that the technology industry doesn’t suffer as a result, it’s vital that alternative options to access tech talent keep the technology and innovation fires burning.

We must continue championing technology in Britain, from start-ups coming up with innovations to big corporations and their digital transformation strategies, to ensure there is continued investment in the people, but delivery of projects is done in a timely manner.

In order to grow the UK technology sector, hiring the right people and delivering efficiently through effective processes is a top priority, and a way of achieving this could be to make an investment in nearshore software development.

It will allow companies to still make internal hires and grow the UK market, but make extensions of their internal tech teams through a software development partner. This partnership would give them the leverage they need to grow their skills and deliver on time and on budget.

As a result, start-ups, SMEs and large Enterprise could see a significant impact as they are able to continue building and delivering against their software development requirements, building greater business value and grow the UK economy.

I am hugely lucky to have seen partnerships established that remove the difficulty of accessing exceptional talent. At Amdaris, being able to quickly build high performing software teams for our clients allows our partners to focus on what matters; to deliver game-changing innovation that drives business growth and contributes to a prosperous UK economy.

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