How can the UK's High Potential Visa close the digital skills gap

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post Sheila Flavell, COO of FDM Group and president of TechUK, explains how the High Potential Visa can ease the digital skills gap and generate growth

With the introduction of the High Potential Visa (HPI) in May of 2022, graduates from the world’s top universities now have the opportunity to venture overseas and work in the UK.

The High Potential Visa is available to individuals who have graduated within the past five years and are interested in finding employment or setting up their own business. Although, those applying must have attended one of the top universities on the list, including the likes of Harvard University, the National University of Singapore, and McGill University, to name a few.

While it’s clear the HPI presents exciting opportunities for top grads, how can it aid in closing the ever-growing digital skills gap?

Larger talent pool

According to a study conducted by Microsoft in the UK, more than two-thirds (69%) of business leaders believe their organisation is currently facing a digital skills gap. With this, 80% of UK business leaders stated they believe investment in digital skills will be important to the country’s economic recovery following the pandemic.

As the digital skills gap has widened and become increasingly prominent in the tech industry, sectors such as app development, coding, data science, and many more, are finding it difficult to recruit talent and fill positions.

So, as around 5.3 million graduates are enrolled in top eligible universities across the globe, the introduction of the HPI visa alleviates the pressure to fill positions and introduces a huge host of new talent for businesses to choose from.

More hiring options for startups

With the rise of digital, there are thousands of startups in the UK creating new innovative products and services – and they need the best of the best to help them succeed.

While recruiting talent from abroad is typically expensive, with companies needing to sponsor candidates and fund their visa process, the HPI eliminates this costly process.

Instead, these startups can hire fresh talent without needing to sponsor their employees. And as a result, they can hire individuals they usually wouldn’t be able to because of the additional cost. This not only helps aid the hiring crisis, but also cuts out time constraints, approves efficiencies, and brings excellent workers to startups to help them grow.

Accessibility to top talent

The High Potential Visa has strict guidelines, mainly that the hire must have a degree from one of the world’s top universities. With this, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates from these universities will be eligible, meaning British tech organisations will have access to some of the most educated and talented people in the world.

From cyber security to engineering, these companies will be able to welcome highly-skilled individuals to drive both economic growth and ease the pressure on current workers who are understaffed and struggling to fill jobs

Increase diversity

As the HPI brings a wave of new talent, it also allows for a more diverse workforce. With the option to hire employees from across the globe, organisations will be able to create workplaces that recognise more cultures and nationalities.

Allowing companies the opportunity to nurture a diverse workforce also generates more perspectives and increases creativity and productivity in the company. In general, diverse and inclusive working environments lead to deeper trust and commitment from teams, resulting in greater retention, increased productivity, and subsequent growth across the business.

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