Around the world, immigration has seen numerous recent shifts. In the U.S., this means that already long green card wait times have gotten longer, there are fewer H-1B visas available, and investment-based visas have become more expensive.
Meanwhile, the U.K. is facing unique post-Brexit immigration changes, ones that may run precisely counter to some parts of the United States' policy.
A Points System
For those familiar with the UK's pre-Brexit rules, it used to be the case that any citizen of an EU-member state could live and work in the U.K. That was great for service-industry workers — and service-industry employers — since those from less prosperous EU countries could come to the U.K. for better paying nursing care and food service jobs than they could get in their own countries. Indeed, their contributions to these fields was so significant that many fear there will be a worker shortage in the service sector.
In place of the old EU rules allowing for free movement, the U.K. is shifting to a new points-based system, one that many have postulated will benefit Indian immigrants in the tech sector. Given that the new U.S. rules could leave many Indians, even those with impressive tech skills, waiting well over a lifetime for a green card, this could be a big moment for U.K.-based digital innovation.
Industry Advantages and Predictions
If the U.K. is poised to attract top tech talent, their businesses will need to be ready to respond and make use of those skills, and that means taking several steps, starting with the initial immigration phase. First, immigrants to the U.K. need to be matched with immigration lawyers who can find them appropriate corporate sponsors. Who new immigrants are initially paired with can make a huge difference in their long-term career trajectories? To find great sponsors, though, top companies need to apply to serve as sponsors.
Based on the current point assignments, the greatest opportunities for immigration won't be among entry-level workers, but those being recruited after earning a Ph.D. This could put tech SMBs at a disadvantage, but big tech companies with the funds to recruit heavily and screen applicant skills could suddenly find themselves with a glut of tech talent.
Another group that's likely to benefit from the new U.K. immigration rules are the U.K.-based branches of Indian tech companies, like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, and Wipro. These companies already employ thousands of workers in the U.K., and in fact, Indian companies have more technology and telecom companies in the U.K. than in any other sector, with engineering a distant second, and pharmaceutical and chemical companies in third.
Many of these companies already have apprenticeship, internship, and other talent programs in place that could help them rapidly bring over skilled workers.
Losses And Gains
Finally, to understand just how many openings there will be for new tech and engineering professionals in the U.K., it's also important to reckon with how many existing professionals may leave the country. Right now, it's estimated that about 16% of UK tech professionals are planning to seek employment elsewhere. This could leave a lot of exciting openings for workers coming through the new Global Talent Visa with the hopes of finding a new career in technology or engineering.
Tech innovations are next to impossible to predict, but global trends can indicate where the next generation of innovators will be doing their work. Taking the long view on technology and engineering careers, smart investors should put their money on foreign nationals, especially Indians, working in the post-Brexit U.K.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant.Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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