TIGA, the network for games developers and digital publishers and trade association representing the video games industry, has called on the Government to enable businesses to recruit highly skilled workers from overseas after Brexit, while continuing to enhance the skills of the indigenous UK workforce.
In its second set of comments to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the body tasked with advising the Government on migration issues, TIGA emphasised the importance of highly skilled workers to the video games industry. Many video games developers need to look abroad for workers with specialist skills that are not immediately available in the UK. This helps them compete with firms in North America and the Far East. TIGA argued that many UK video games companies are small or micro businesses, which may struggle to deal with increased costs and red tape involved in hiring someone from abroad.
The comments were in response to the MAC’s interim update on its work looking at EEA workers in the UK labour market. It reported that employers are concerned about potential restrictions on the ability to recruit EEA migrants.
In particular, employers in higher-skilled sectors that use the Tier 2 system to recruit non-EEA migrant workers expressed mostly negative views of the system. Many felt that it was time consuming, costly and overly complex to secure work visas. In general, employers were against the rules and caps in the Tier 2 system being applied to EEA migrants in future.
Only native speakers in specific languages can carry out some jobs in the games industry requiring deep cultural knowledge, but these roles in community management are classed as ‘low-skilled’ jobs under the current migration framework and so would not fit the requirements of the out-dated Tier 2 system or any other visa programme. Were language skills to qualify as essential criteria in roles where native language skills and cultural country knowledge are key, this would resolve the issue.
In its initial submission to the MAC inquiry, in October 2017, TIGA proposed that the Government should consider the following proposals:
- reciprocal freedom of movement rights for workers in the video games industry;
- negotiate a general reciprocal freedom of movement rights for workers with a job offer;
- provide approximately 1,500 Work Permits per annum for the UK video games industry;
- add roles (e.g. Games Analyst and Engine Programmer) to the Shortage Occupation List where there is a specific skills shortage so that employers can recruit the employees they need without undue delay;
- ensure that any new immigration arrangements are not complex or costly for business; and
- introduce a fast track visa programme for roles on the Shortage Occupation List.
Its final report is due to be published in September 2018, the MAC will provide the evidence base for UK migration after the implementation period in 2021.
Dr Richard Wilson OBE, Chief Executive Officer of TIGA, said:
“TIGA will continue its campaign to ensure that the video games industry has easy access to recruit the best and brightest talent from the EU, EEA and beyond. As an industry that competes on a global level, we need access to the very best global talent.
“It is good news that employers are on the same page when it comes to being able to recruit talented workers from the EU and EEA. The MAC’s interim update underlines the fact that businesses across the UK depend on the ability to recruit workers from abroad with a minimum of cost and red tape. We await the final MAC report with great interest.”