Entrepreneur criticises demanding UK Immigration Policy

Yesterday, Quill founder Ed Bussey published an article in New Statesman arguing that UK businesses need international talent in order to excel in their fields. Bussey, founder of Technology company Quill, has said that his own company has a team of 26 and is currently trying to fill 17 vacancies as they continue to grow at a rate of over 100% year on year. He has blamed the UK education system for not equipping young people with the right skills desperately needed in the tech sector. 

Quill founder Ed Bussey: Immigration Policies are hitting Small Businesses particularly hard

Hundreds of fast growth companies like Quill, who want to bring talent to the UK from outside of the EU must apply for a specialist Tier 2 sponsor licence. Once the licence is obtained, they then must issue Certificates of Sponsorship to their non-EU employees. However as there is currently a cap of 20,700 Certificate of Sponsorship, companies are finding it difficult to employ trained individuals for their businesses. Interestingly in 2013 just 10,179 such visas were granted, well below the 20,700 cap.

Since 2003 Europe has produced $30bn technology startups, 11 of them were created here in the UK. The UK tech sector is becoming increasingly popular and in London alone 27% of all new jobs are created by technology-focused businesses. Mr Bussey has warned that the British tech sector in danger of being short staffed due to the lack of skills present in the UK.

Mr Bussey did commend the UK Government on the introduction of computer science, digital skills and IT into the national curriculum for UK students between the ages of five and 16. But insisted whilst this was a good long term plan for the UK economy it does not provide a solution for the short-term problem at hand.

Mr Bussey commented on the opportunity that the UK has:

“There is a game-changing opportunity at hand for Britain, if we can tune the immigration system to the needs of our entrepreneurs and fast-growth businesses: we can become a hub for the international technology and digital talent that other competing economies are turning away.”

A report published by Centre for Entrepreneurs and business information experts DueDil, showed that migrant entrepreneurs set up one in seven UK companies. Totaling 14.5% of all UK businesses and employ 1.16 million people in the UK.

Science and Technology Committee call for simpler Immigration Policy

Earlier this year the House of Lords science and technology committee also called for a simpler UK immigration policy. The committee published a report which revealed that an “unwelcoming UK” has seen a drop of more than 10% in the past two years, in the number of international students studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Between 2010/11 and 2011/12 the numbers of new international students taking postgraduate taught courses in STEM subjects fell by 13%. The select committee has said that the UK government’s immigration policy is contradictory, as they are committed to reducing net migration, simultaneously they want to increase the numbers of international students (15–20% over the next five years). They stated that the solution to this is for the government to remove students from the net migration figures. In 2012/13  the number of new undergraduates enrolling on STEM courses fell by 5% and then 4% over the same two years.

Lord Krebs, Chair of the Committee, said:

“When we really need to send the message that international STEM students will get a warm welcome in the UK, they’re getting the cold shoulder and heading elsewhere. We’ve seen over the last few years how international student numbers have fallen dramatically, in particular from India.  As a result we’re missing out on the talent, the economic and cultural contribution that international students bring when they come here to study, and our competitors are reaping the rewards.”

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