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More IT professionals from outside the EU are coming to work in the UK as businesses attempt to fill skills shortages.
While politicians cite the country’s EU membership as a cause for UK workers being out of work, they fail to mention the huge influx of non-EU IT workers employed by UK companies.
According to figures from the Home Office 36,015 non-EU IT workers came to the UK last year, compared with 23,960 in 2012. The number has increased each year over the past five years.
Data obtained by SJD Accountancy, which provides accountancy services to freelancers such as IT contractors, shows that IT business analysts, architects and systems designers, web design and development specialists are the most common skills being brought in.
Derek Kelly, CEO at SJD Accountancy, said the UK is more reliant on foreign talent than it was before the recession. “These numbers show that the expansion of the UK tech sector is at risk if we are unable to keep up with demand for IT skills,” he said. “Skill shortages can delay projects and push up costs for businesses.”
SJD Accountancy said Brexit will also see the UK become more reliant on non-EU IT professionals unless it can drastically increase the number of computer science graduates and ICT apprenticeships in the UK.
Leaving the EU is also a concern for IT startups, many of which rely on skills and investments from the EU. There are also startup hubs across Europe that are eager to attract staff that might be put off the UK post-Brexit.
This could further increase the skills shortage in the UK which is pushing up wages, according to a recent survey of IT contractors by SJD. It found that 42.1% of IT contractors earn £500 or more per day compared with 39.1% during the past 12 months as competition for skills drives up pay rates.
The same research found that more organisations are struggling to recruit and retain cyber security professionals with the right blend of technical and management skills.