TIGA, the network for video games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, has called on the new Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, to ensure the UK video games industry can continue to recruit talent from outside the UK post-Brexit.
The UK video games industry relies on a highly skilled workforce to compete. TIGA estimates that in 2018, 20 per cent of the UK development workforce emanates from other EU states and 5 per cent from the rest of the world. If our industry cannot access talent via the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), then this would exacerbate skills shortages, which in turn would result in the loss of jobs and investment.
TIGA has proposed to the new Secretary of State that the Government should do the following:
- retain the existing roles relevant to the video games industry on the SOL (e.g. Programmers);
- update the SOL by adding more roles for which there is currently a shortage, and expand titles in the SOL to encompass entire occupations, as suggested by the MAC on 29th May 2019 (e.g. expansion of Programmers and Software Development Professionals; Web Design and Development Professionals; Artists; Graphic Designers; Arts Officers; Producers and Directors code; and IT Business Analysts, Architects and System Designers);
- introduce a fast track (14 days process) visa programme for roles on the SOL to enable UK employers to recruit quickly and signal to foreign skilled workers that they are welcome in the UK;
- language skills should qualify as essential criteria in roles where native language skills and cultural country knowledge are crucial (only native speakers in specific languages can carry out some jobs in Community Management because they require deep cultural knowledge, but these roles are classed as ‘low-skilled’ jobs under the current migration framework and so do not fit the requirements of the current Tier 2 system or other visa programmes);
- make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to recruit workers via the Tier 2 points based system; and,
- refrain from increasing the Tier 2 salary threshold from circa £24,000 (e.g. Programmers and software development professional) to £30,000. If the UK government’s previously stated minimum salary of £30,000 becomes policy, this may create challenges as according to TIGA research, the current median and average graduate level salary in this survey stands at less than £24,000
On the 29 May 2019, the Migration Advisory Committee published its review of the SOL following various stakeholder engagement events and calls for written evidence. TIGA welcomed the MAC’s review of the SOL as many of the roles recommended for inclusion on the SOL are in line with the TIGA’s recommendations. TIGA has therefore urged the Government to adopt the MAC’s recommendations as part of the UK’s future immigration regime post-Brexit.