Tech leaders reject minority government's immigration policy on the grounds it will undermine the sector

 
Tracey Boles
London Tech Week's welcome robot

THREE quarters (74 per cent) of tech professionals in London believe that policies outlined in the Conservative manifesto, if implemented, will restrict access to talent in the UK tech sector and therefore threaten its continued success.

The findings are by Tech London Advocates (TLA), an independent network of nearly 5,000 tech experts, leaders and professionals in the capital.

Over half (56 per cent) of tech professionals it surveyed believe the current immigration policy does not permit world-class talent to enter the UK. Only a third of respondents (30 per cent) stated that the current immigration is sufficient to provide companies with top international talent.

The hard-hitting report comes as Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), yesterday said the government could not expect British workers to replace EU nationals at a time when employment in Britain is already at record high levels.

The CBI added the government must heed the concerns of businesses who are worried that they will not be able to find the staff that they need once the country leaves the EU.

Seven out of ten (74 per cent) of those surveyed by TLA expressed support for the introduction of a third party sponsorship visa programme. Such a programme, as advocated by the TLA, would allow skilled migrants to be sponsored by accelerators, incubators and VCs on behalf of tech companies.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates said: “Access to global talent is a top priority for tech companies, and these results confirm that firms want a government that can establish an immigration and visa policy to meet this pressing need.

“With Brexit negotiations set to begin, we need a government that creates the right conditions for tech companies to grow, ensuring that they can access international talent to bridge the skills gap and provide world-leading insights and knowledge.”

A massive 80 per cent of tech startups in London hired overseas workers within their first five employees.

Tech London Advocates has released the survey data to coincide with the beginning of London Tech Week, Europe’s largest technology festival. The week will see hundreds of events take place across the city, drawing tech innovators and influencers from across Europe to London. Tech London Advocates is one of three founding partners for the week.

Shaw added: “London Tech Week is an opportunity to send a clear message to the international tech community – London is open and welcomes the world’s best tech talent.”

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