Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

Visa regulations needed to be flexible to hire the best talent in UK’s digital start up firms warns a think tank

Date: (21 September 2012)    |    

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In the backdrop of London Metropolitan University’s legal action to overturn a decision to stop them recruiting overseas students a report has been published by a think tank which has said that the UK’s cutting edge digital start up firms needed to have more flexibility over immigration rules if they were going to be able to attract the best qualified staff.
Policy Exchange the think tank has warned that UK digital firms were at a risk of being left out of the global pool of highly skilled staff to expand because of visa restrictions.
It has cited the example of the US saying that it gains an advantage by hiring from a global talent pool.
Report author Chris Yiu says skilled graduates were in "short supply".
The Policy Exchange report has highlighted the tensions of maintaining a tight migration rules while at the same time trying to nurture fast moving industries which has to rely on highly mobile internationlaised workforce.
It said more sophisticated differentiation was needed to attract talent and at the same time maintaining border policies.
It raised fears that under the tight visa regime the next generation of digital entrpreneurs were more likely to end up in places like California.
The report said that start ups needed taking right people fast and not spending months trying to expand their technology teams. All the more reason why UK had to make it easier for start ups to take on highly skilled foreign graduates the author reports.
The report suggested that employers should be given more flexibility over employing overseas graduates and allowing them to act as sponsors.
It also called for changes to the "post-study" visa regulations for graduates after they finished at a UK university so that it was easier for science and technology graduates to continue working in the UK's digital industries.
These rules had been tightened after fears that this time after graduation had become an immigration loophole.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that the latest visa statistics show that around 40% of those coming into UK to work were joining the IT sector and the home office had made sure innovative student entrepreneurs who were creating wealth were able to stay in the UK to pursue their ideas.
She added that its immigration reforms have brought in a more selective system which attracts the brightest and the best from across the world whilst bringing net migration down to sustainable levels.
A report from Oxford University earlier this year produced a map of digital economies - and showed how "technology hubs" grew up in clusters, often around universities and research centres, and depended on a supply of suitably-qualified graduates.