Government must consider benefits of immigration for UK’s high tech businesses & wider economy

By March 5, 2014 Press Releases

In light of today’s news that migrant entrepreneurs have created one in every seven UK companies, TIGA has called for the value of immigration to UK high tech business to also be taken into account.

The trade association argues that for many UK specialist technology and video game businesses, hiring highly skilled specialist talent from around the world is critical for growth. Employers in the IT, development and related high-technology sectors experience skills shortages and sometimes simply cannot recruit the requisite highly skilled people within the UK.

Highly restrictive immigration policies, unless implemented very carefully and intelligently, could hamper the growth of high technology businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the specialist technology and video game sector.

In these specialised technological fields it is not foreign nationals competing against UK citizens for jobs or driving down salaries; it is UK enterprises competing against businesses from around the world for the best and brightest talent. It is already easier for some of our competitors to recruit from outside their borders than it is for UK businesses.

In the case of some specialist roles we are dependent on skilled migrants to help high technology SMEs to grow and therefore actually employ more British people.

TIGA member, Codeplay, is an Edinburgh based business and an internationally recognised expert in advanced optimising technologies for computer and video game graphics. Codeplay operate in a highly specialised niche field, working with global technology giants like ARM to create, for example, graphics compilers that make their chipsets run faster and more efficiently.

Codeplay is finding it increasingly challenging to take advantage of the opportunities it has to hire really talented people. The business is missing out because a talented person can make a big difference to the opportunities available to a specialist technology business. Competitors in countries with more open immigration rules can quickly take advantage of the availability of talented people looking for an interesting place to work.

It is becoming more expensive, slow and difficult to employ top non-UK tech talent, even once they have finished studying at UK universities. It used to be the case that if a student studied at a UK university, UK businesses could hire them for two years, and then apply for a work permit. This helped a great deal as it meant businesses could hire talented graduates straight out university without too much paperwork. This has now been stopped, and highly qualified, highly skilled people who have studied here and want to work here have no choice but to leave if they cannot find a job extremely quickly.

Indeed, the Government’s migration policy is also hindering the potential of our higher education sector. The UK is the second most popular market for overseas students after the USA. Yet this export success story could be hindered by the Government’s clampdown on overseas students studying in the UK.

UK technology businesses also sometimes need to hire people from the countries that they want to export to. This does not just mean local sales and marketing people, but engineers who can liaise with engineers in other countries on highly complex projects. If UK technology firms cannot do this, then their ability to grow will be hindered

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO commented:

“There is a broad recognition that the UK needs to help business start-ups, especially in the technology sector. However, there is a disconnection between the willingness to support new tech businesses and an awareness of what it takes for them to grow.

“Just as night follows day, the tougher immigration policy becomes so the harder and more costly it is for UK-owned technology businesses to address skill shortages and skill gaps by hiring in the talent they need from abroad, especially from outside the EU.

“Few people doubt that the UK needs some immigration controls. However, if the UK is to protect and enhance its high technology sectors then we need smart policy that responds to the complex realities of modern business.”

Andrew Richards, CEO, Codeplay, added:

“It’s not just potential employees that get drawn into the bureaucracy around immigration; it’s our small business owners that get hit the hardest. The backlog of immigration cases is very long, the process of hiring the person you want is expensive, and the time spent on this activity can be significant for UK SMEs.

“Employers are already looking at significant up-front costs to hiring a non-UK citizen, even if they are already in the country. Fees for processing immigration paperwork can exceed £500, not even accounting for the time it takes to fill in the forms and process the administration.

“In reality, especially with students, it’s UK business owners that end up having to pay for all this.”




About TIGA

TIGA is the trade association representing the video game industry. We help developers and digital publishers build successful studios, network with the right people, save money and access professional business advice.

We also have outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership. Since 2010, TIGA has won 16 business awards.

TIGA focuses on three sets of activities:

·       Political representation

·       Media representation

·       Business services

This enhances the competitiveness of our members by providing benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities.

It also means our members’ voices are heard in the corridors of power and positively represented in national, broadcast and UK video game trade media.

Get in touch:

Tel: 0845 468 2330



Twitter: @TIGAMovement



For further information, you can also contact:

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO

Drew Field, TIGA Communications Director on: 07720 643 344, or email:


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