Technology has placed a major role in ensuring the survival of businesses across the country over the past 18 months. Companies with strong IT capabilities will have been better placed to weather the changes brought on by the pandemic to the way we work, and our reliance on technology is only set to increase.
Businesses are adapting to the ‘new normal’, with many looking for innovative technical solutions to issues such as hybrid working. In addition to the usual IT skills, businesses are also looking to more advanced ways of using technology; this includes data analytics to change their approach to customers/clients, specialised software to streamline processes, and becoming increasing focused on the need for cyber security.
Complex technology such as this requires personnel with technical skills and abilities to design, implement and maintain, and Covid-19 has drawn attention to this particular gap in the labour market.
However, the need to recruit such individuals comes at a time when the UK is experiencing record numbers of job vacancies and relatively low rates of unemployment. There is a finite pool of individuals with these skills in the UK, and so in order to locate the best talent, employers may need to cast a wider net and look abroad.
There are two main immigration routes employers can use to bring individuals with technological skills into their business: the Skilled Worker route, and the Global Talent route.
Skilled Worker route
The Skilled Worker route allows employees to come to the UK to work for an approved employer in an eligible occupation. In order to do so:
Some of these roles are on the ‘shortage occupation list’, which are roles the Government have recognised are in short supply in the UK. At present, this includes cyber security specialists, all IT business analysts, and programmers and software development professionals. This means that employer recruiting for such roles may pay 80% of the going rate for that occupation.
Employees coming in on this visa can apply up to three months before they are due to start work, and if successful may stay up to five years in the UK on the visa.
Global Talent route
This is an alternative route that could be used to recruit individuals who show either ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’ in the field of digital technology. This includes areas such as financial technology, cyber security and AI, and includes both the technical and business aspects of these areas. Applicants will need to apply for an endorsement, which is assessed by Tech Nation, and then for the visa itself.
There is no need for a specific job offer, and applicants will not have to show a knowledge of English or meet the minimum salary threshold, and so is potentially a more flexible route for highly skilled individuals.
Recruiting employees from overseas can be a complex process; if you or your business need advice or support on this topic, our Immigration team will be more than happy to assist.