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Brexit: Tech world expresses fears over skills and instability

In the wake of the decision by British voters to leave the EU the reaction from the channel has focused on worries about skills and stability

With British voters having made the decision to leave the European Union the reactions from the IT industry and some of the channel have started to come in after a historic evening and tulmutous morning that has seen the value of the pound fall dramatically and the Prime Minister resign.

The views of the UK tech industry had largely been for remaining in the EU with some major channel figures, including Sir Peter Rigby, publicly stating their desire to see the  country remain part of Europe.

But the Leave campaign has won out, with a margin of 52% to 48%, and the two-year process to exit the EU is set to start in the Autumn, if not earlier.

Comtek CEO Askar Sheibani was one of the first in the channel to make comments on the result, expressing his dismay with the outcome and the likely impact on the business sector.

“Britain’s departure from the European Union is a devastating blow to UK businesses, especially those in the technology industry.  Words cannot describe how disappointed I am that the British public turned its back on the EU; choosing years of economic uncertainty over being part of a thriving economy that has helped Britain to progress phenomenally in terms of trade, competition, employment and skills.  Brexit has riled up the business community and, as a member of that community, I’m sure I speak for the vast majority when I say that we’ve been left with many unanswered questions," he said.

Those questions included working out what would happen in the near, medium and long term so businesses could plan and try to bring back a degree of stability into the market.

“Trade agreements, for example, need to be re-negotiated in a way that boosts UK businesses and the UK economy.  Already, there has been fluctuation on the value of the pound and this is something that needs to be counterbalanced, if it’s not to cripple the UK’s ability to trade profitably in an international market both now and in the future.  What’s more, many companies based in the EU will be looking to attract agile UK-based firms, such as those in the technology industry.  With the advantages of a single market across the water and possibly a weakening UK economy at home, it will be no surprise that some firms seriously consider a shift in focus, potentially turning Techxit into a reality," he said.

He was not alone in sharing the dissapointment and concerns about just what the vote meant for the UK IT community with Bhuwan Kaushik, CEO of digital transformation specialist Spectromax, voicing the concerns of many over the long term impact on the technology skills gap.

“The impact of the Brexit will be sizable and long term. There’s a huge IT skills gap in the UK and it’s going to take a number of years to close it.  Leaving the EU at a time when the UK is in need of skills will be a huge blow to UK businesses, let alone the commercial opportunities that may be lost and could consequently stunt UK start-up growth.  Businesses like ours are doing all we can to generate skills within the local economy through training programmes.  The Government too is intending on allocating funds to formal qualification programmes following the Budget announcement.  It will take time, however, for these to begin closing the skills gap and Brexit will only worsen the situation," he said.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said that although the Leave vote had triumphed the reasons that made the IT sector attractive yesterday still remained true the morning after the Brexit result.

"Today, just as it was yesterday, the UK remains a great place to start, locate and grow a tech business. It is full of talented, skilled and passionate people with the ideas and creativity to make great things happen. Its consumers are eager and enthusiastic early adopters of new technology. Its world class universities are powerful engines of science and innovation and its politicians and regulators have a strong record of supporting market-led investment. We must now harness these assets like never before and build a world-beating ecosystem for tech that continues the great British tradition of inventing the future," he said.

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