UK tech job prospects down as Brexit looms

In a recent report from Tech City, it found that the tech sector is growing twice as fast as the wider UK economy and that digital jobs are being created twice as fast as non-digital jobs.

However, Brexit threatens to destabilise this. If this growth of the tech industry is suspended, even moved back, the entire UK economy could be at risk.

As Brexit looms this scenario is fast becoming a reality. To understand the implications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Hired – a platform that facilitates the job-searching process for first interviews – conducted a study from the tech workers on its platform.

Foreign candidate representation in the UK candidate pool down 50% since Brexit

One of the biggest issues of contention regarding Brexit, is the issue of job uncertainty for EU nationals. Hired’s report highlights that the UK has long relied on foreign labor to help power its economy.

>See also: AI and automation will be far more significant than Brexit

In the tech industry, some skills are in such short supply that UK-based companies offer foreign candidates an average of 28% more than local candidates in order to fill their open roles.

It is quite clear then that foreign workers are vital to the UK tech sector and the economy it props up. But, how has Brexit impacted the desire of the global tech community to work in the UK? Hired found that the foreign acceptance rate decreased by nearly 20%, whereas the acceptance rate from local candidates was flat over the same time period.

UK tech firms recruiting fewer foreign workers

The reduced interest from overseas workers isn’t the only concern, according to the report.

It seems British employers are less confident in recruiting from abroad since the Brexit vote. The data revealed that the percentage of British companies sending offers to candidates outside the country fell from 25% at the beginning of 2016 to just 18% a year later, a decrease of almost 30%.

>See also: Brexit: what Britain’s technology sector had to say

The shrinking pool of UK companies that are recruiting foreign talent is one indication of Brexit’s impact on tech hiring.

Another metric is the representation of foreign candidates in the total talent pool, which also significantly decreased. In fact, the number of offers given to foreign candidates has gone down by 60% since Brexit.

UK tech workers concerned about the future

When asked whether the UK’s exit from the EU will damage the tech industry, almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents said it would.

Even more tellingly, when asked about their biggest concerns, UK tech workers listed Brexit above all other issues, followed by happiness at work, personal development, and salary.

Phil Coulter, EMEA global technology market leader, Futurestep, commenting on the report, believes that despite the challenges highlighted, the UK will still survive and indeed, thrive.  “There’s no doubt that we’re all operating in uncharted waters, managing the knowns and the unknowns as we navigate our way through times of political uncertainty. The UK market is always highly competitive when it comes to talent, particularly in the technology space.”

>See also: Why the UK’s technology sector will survive Brexit

“While the situation is challenging, businesses can do more when it comes to managing, attracting and retaining talent. We’ve already seen a move in this direction, but more can still be done to plan strategically with hires and move away from a more transactional, short-term approaches to talent acquisition. There’s also an opportunity to widen the net when it comes to unearthing quality hires – again, progress has been made here, but there is still more that can be done through apprenticeships and graduate schemes to attract the right people early on and to train them up with the right skills.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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