theresa may industrial strategy

'Exceptional' tech workers sought under expanded visas scheme

The UK Government is to double to 2,000 the number of visas available to highly skilled technology workers and entrepreneurs in a bid to keep the talent pipeline open post-Brexit

The UK Government is doubling the number of visas available to “exceptionally” talented technology workers and entrepreneurs from around the world in a bid to tempt them into the country’s digital sector.

The government says that 2,000 of the “brightest and best” specialists will come in under the scheme, which was billed by Theresa May as proof of her desire for the UK to remain “open for business” after Brexit.

The Home Office, which is in charge of immigration, is now said to be looking into ways of ensuring the widest possible take up of the scheme outside of London to try and nurture the technology sector in the UK’s other urban centres.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is to meet with industry figures to seek their views on how to make the visa application process as smooth as possible.

In addition, £21 million over four years has been pledged by the Government for Tech Nation, an organisation seeking to boost workforce skills in an area that is seen as vital for the future success of the UK economy.

There will also be a new £20 million fund created to help public services take advantage of UK expertise in innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, and another £20 milllion for a new training scheme to develop youngsters’ cybersecurity skills.

A spokesman for Tech Nation welcomed the visas announcement, saying it would enable firms to recruit “highly skilled tech workers who want to come and work in the UK, in recognition of the sector’s global nature”.

Theresa May said: “It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector, which makes such an immense contribution to our economic life and to our society, has the full backing of government. Helping our world-class entrepreneurs and innovators to succeed is how we lay the foundations for our prosperity and build an economy fit for the future.”

Matt Clifford, co-founder of Entrepreneur First, said personnel from countries outside of the EU would be just as important as workers who are entitled to freedom of movement because they are citizens of EU member states.

He said: “We cannot ignore the fact that our digital and tech economy cannot survive on home-grown talent alone and is substantially boosted by exceptional foreign individuals who have chosen to build their businesses in the UK.

“If London is to continue being the European hub for tech, and if it is to grow to rival other internationally significant tech centres, we must ensure the UK becomes an increasingly welcoming hub for EU and non-EU nationals alike.”

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