Since the Brexit vote there has been huge uncertainty over where the United Kingdom will sit on immigration and the free flow of people around the European Union. Back in 2014 Tech City in London was given the right to allocate two hundred special “Tech Nation” visas for non EU workers in an effort to attract highly skilled coders to the country. For the past two years the initiative has not received much coverage mostly because it had received so few applicants, in fact little more than 20 in one year but since the Brexit vote things have dramatically changed.
Tech City UK has announced that since the Brexit vote applications have surged with over 200 applicants since April and a record number this November. The scheme was relaxed last year allowing talented individuals from companies to apply for visas as a group and letting individuals with “exceptional promise” qualify.
Gerard Grech, the Chief Executive of Tech City has said that he would like the 200 limit to be raised by the government for the forthcoming year as the Brexit vote continues to threaten to curb access to European Union workers. There is already a skills shortage among tech companies in the UK and London in particular are worried about the threat to the burgeoning tech industry should European Union workers not be allowed to travel and work in the United Kingdom following Brexit. Within the first nine months of 2015 the tech industry in London raised approximately £1.1 billion and over the next ten years, Oxford Economics research expects the sector to grow at a rate of 5.1% per year and to generate an extra £12 billion of economic activity. It is clear therefore that London can ill afford to have a tech skills shortage and the Mayor and others are working hard to prevent Brexit halting the tech sectors rise.