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Applications for Global Talent Visas through Tech Nation, the official endorsing body for top-tier technology skills immigration in the UK, have reached 4,000 since 2014.
The popularity of the digital Tech Nation visa has increased in recent years, with 35% of the total of 4,000 applications being made over the past year.
Gerard Grech, founding CEO of Tech Nation, said: “The UK is a global powerhouse for tech, not only due to our world-class ideas and innovation, but our world-class talent too. Tech Nation’s Global Talent Visa is just one of the many reasons the UK is such an attractive hub for ambitious and inspiring tech entrepreneurs, and will help ensure the UK remains one of the best destinations to start and scale a tech business in the months and years to come.”
The UK’s Global Talent visa scheme began in February 2020 with the aim of making it easier for skilled talent to come to the UK, and is a reformed version of the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route for skilled applicants applying to work in the UK without a job offer.
Tech Nation is responsible for endorsing Global Talent visa applications where the applicant wants to come to the UK to work in technology and digital roles.
The 4,000 applications for Tech Nation’s visa have come from more than 100 countries, and over 600 tech founders have been endorsed for visas by the body.
One-third of the applications were received by Tech Nation in the 12 months from July 2020 to August 2021, and 58% in the last 24 months, from July 2019 to August 2021.
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the hiring landscape in tech became precarious as many firms put projects and spending on hold until they could be sure of what the future held.
Read more about tech visas
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a slew of tech-related measures in this year’s Budget, which also included a visa review for highly-skilled IT professionals and a £375m fund for innovative businesses.
- The importance of immigrant workers to the UK’s fintech sector highlighted by government planned fintech visa.
But the popularity of Tech Nation’s visa has grown in the last few years, despite the pandemic, with a 28% year-on-year increase in applications between April 2020 and March 2021.
Particular sectors have also seen an increase in popularity in recent years – for example, Tech Nation has seen a 172% increase in the number of endorsed applicants wanting to work in the cyber security sector since 2018, and a 117% increase in applicants with a background in health technology, both sectors that have gained importance during the pandemic.
The UK often complains of a skills shortage, and a large number of workers choosing to leave the country after the Brexit vote as well as delayed decisions about tech investment after the Brexit vote only caused more concern about access to talent.
Traditional skills are also still extremely valued in the UK, with application and software development, artificial intelligence, machine learning and enterprise software the most common skills held by Tech Nation visa applicants.
When it comes to technology skills in the UK, there is often a focus on the London bubble, with 37% of the nation’s tech talent residing in the capital – something that looks about to change since the pandemic has ushered in a new era of flexible and remote working.
Almost 40% of Tech Nation-endorsed visa applications base themselves outside London, choosing to set up in other major UK cities such as Manchester, Oxford and Edinburgh.