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What Will the Upcoming Immigration Policy Mean for Employers in the Digital Sector?

By Richard Manso, the Founder & Director of Digital Republic Recruitment 

There has been a lot said about the new immigration scheme and the impact this will have on employers and it’s fair to say that we will know a lot more from February 2021 but from doing some reading around the subject it’s clear there will be a number of pros and cons.

Dealing with the benefits first the most obvious is that digital employers should theoretically now have easier access to talent beyond the EU or candidates with dual nationalities. Digital talent in places like India, USA, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand should theoretically find it easier to come and work in the UK because of the reduced minimum salary requirement and the points rather than passport focus. The policy seems to be designed to target STEM-educated professionals so this should naturally dovetail digital hiring nicely!  

As a recruitment agency, we often get enquiries from highly qualified people from the US, for instance, and are unable to introduce them to our clients because of the current visa laws, so theoretically the points system should make life easier for the candidate and employer assuming they meet the necessary criteria.

The reduction of the salary cap will also be very useful for a digital economy that tends to rely on young talent and develop them more than highly qualified professionals in other sectors.

Also, if it’s easier and cheaper to hire talent, staff projects and drive innovations in the UK, this could draw more investment to the UK digital sector which of course would be greatly beneficial overall in the promotion of digital as a sector in the UK.

Where I see the potential problems are in the details of the system, for instance, the fact that one of the criteria requires that people speak English to qualify. Often people from India, Far East and Africa come to the UK to learn the language as well as pursue academic and professional careers before going into digital so we could lose out on some great talent as a result of this requirement.

People from the EU will have to jump through more hoops as of 2021 to come and work in the UK and we already know that as well carrying a higher proportion of Degrees, Masters and PhDs which is an important criterion for some areas of digital. We also know based on the research that the EU provides the UK with about 20% of our talent in digital in London. If it all of a sudden becomes more difficult to come and work here and therefore makes us less attractive it could well make our national employer branding less competitive and have the opposite effect on countries like Germany, Spain and France for example.

The new policy also requires the entrant to have an offer in hand to gain the points and this, of course, is logistically a lot easier for people who let’s say live in France than people who live in Australia in terms of interview process so there may need to be a change in process with employers and recruiters.

Given the size of the change in the laws and the pretty limited implementation process, I expect there will be lots of technical problems at least to start off with in terms of technology, training of key stakeholders and general information provision. Basically, the process may look clearer and easier but I am not sure it will be shorter in the first instance.

I probably haven’t provided you with any definitive answers as to how the changes will affect your business but hopefully, it has stimulated some thinking. Check out some of the research articles attached below and keep on eye on further updates from the authorities and key stakeholders. 

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