The government is relaxing visa rules for overseas digital specialists after widespread complaints, from startups and tech giants alike, of a skill shortage in the country.
Concerns in the sector are the result of the underwhelming achievements of Tech City, the government initiative set up to boost the UK’s digital economy and endorse Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas to highly sought after technical experts.
More action required
However, after receiving a disappointing 19 applications in nearly two years – less than five per cent of its visa allowance for that period – and approving 17 of them, it would appear that much more needs to be done.
Whitehall will now introduce four new options for non-EU tech specialists to meet entry criteria in an attempt to keep up with recruitment requirements for this burgeoning British industry, according to The Telegraph.
The four new opportunities are:
- fast tracking for individuals, such as software coders, who can help companies on their route towards stock market flotation
- group applications for highly skilled teams who may be brought in to expand businesses, also known as ‘acquire hire’ deals
- visas handed out to people with “exceptional promise” in specialisms suffering from a dearth of talent
- fast tracking for applications to work in one of the six cities that form the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ scheme
Ben Medlock, co-founder of smartphone keyboard app SwiftKey, told The Telegraph: “Cutting down on the processing time of visa applications, prioritising certain sets of skills and adding a new provision for UK scale-ups are improvements that will make a huge difference for fast-growing digital companies.”
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