New immigration charge deepens tech skills crisis

Digital top earners 'shunned uni'UK tech businesses could suffer as a result of changes to immigration laws, according to Northern digital trade association Manchester Digital.
The new laws, which came into effect last month, require large businesses to pay a new immigration skills charge of £1,000 per year, per employee, to employ overseas workers from outside of the EU. Small businesses and charitable employers will be required to pay £364 annually.
This comes following the release of Manchester Digital’s annual skills audit earlier this year, which revealed that one in ten Northern digital businesses rely on overseas talent to bolster the talent pool.
An additional one in five businesses said they had had to turn down work as a result of being unable to find the right talent to fulfil it.
Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital, believes the law changes could hamper tech businesses. She said: “Creating extra hurdles for businesses that are already struggling to find talent in the wake of a growing digital skills shortage contradicts the Government’s pledge to prioritise the support of the technology industry.”
The organisation also believes tech businesses could feel further impact if Brexit restricts free movement and is calling for Government to consider the implications of restricting skilled foreign workers from entering the UK.
Gallagher added: “The digital economy now contributes a massive £97 billion per year to the UK economy, and tech investment into the UK is growing significantly year on year, so it’s crucial that we have a strong talent pipeline to support this – and being able to employ overseas talent is a vital aspect of this.
“We absolutely do not want these changes to put our digital economy at a disadvantage on a global stage so we hope the Government takes on board our recommendations that any future changes to immigration rules set to encourage, not make it harder, for skilled foreign workers to come and work in the UK.”
Manchester Digital represents over 500 digital technology businesses and thousands of students across the North West.

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