The UK economy is becoming more dependent on AI technology. Last year, a report showed that the UK was the number one AI leader in Europe and the third largest AI producer in the world.
The country could potentially compete with the United States as the global AI producer. However, in order to do so, it will need to tap the right talent.
More AI startups in the UK are hiring workers from abroad. This means that the industry is growing as a result of immigration.
Immigration Drives Growth in the UK AI Sector
Immigration continues to be a major topic in the UK as we settle into a post-Brexit world. In this article, we’ll be discussing the ways in which immigration can benefit the UK tech sector…
Immigration is rarely far from the headlines in the UK and since its departure from the European Union in 2020, times have been turbulent for employers in the UK tech industry.
As the business world becomes increasingly digital, gaps are appearing in the UK workforce, particularly within the tech industry. While the UK is currently the market leader for AI in Europe, it may not hold that title indefinitely if it can’t continue to attract quality workers.
Brexit hasn’t stopped employers looking further afield for diverse needed talent to fill positions in the UK. AI startups are no exception.
Those looking to hire from abroad or move to the UK for tech jobs may seek help from business immigration lawyers, to ensure everything is legitimate before arrival, given the complications Brexit has brought.
So how exactly does immigration benefit AI startups in the UK? Let’s delve in…
On the 1st of January 2021, following the UK’s departure from the EU, a new points based immigration system was put into place for those wishing to live and work in the UK. This visa-based system means that individuals now need to fulfil a certain set of criteria in order to gain a visa. This will allow them to legally take up employment in the United Kingdom.
While there are many opportunities for overseas employees, these tend to be limited to highly skilled personnel, students and those wishing to start a new branch of an existing business in the UK.
The new points-based system will, in general, exclude employees with little experience or those who are currently in junior positions in their existing company.
How Can Immigration Benefit the AI Technology Sector?
There are several ways in which immigration can benefit the AI tech sector including:
As technology marches forward, more and more people are choosing this sector as a career and, as such, are going to universities and colleges in order to gain qualifications that could lead directly to a tech job.
In the UK, there are currently around 30,090 computer science students and, although this sounds like a pretty impressive number, it pales slightly in comparison to other countries in Europe. For example, in Poland, there are around 416,000 computer science students, with this number growing steadily every year.
For UK businesses, this means that there is a significant talent pool to be tapped into from Central Europe meaning Central European students will be eligible under the new post-Brexit points system.
UK AI startups are among those that depend on immigration for available talent. AI companies depend on Python programmers for data science and AI projects. Many of the best Python programmers are based in India and other East Asian countries, so they will want to recruit immigrants from those areas.
As well as allowing UK AI companies to attract top tech talent, the new visa system also offers opportunities for overseas tech companies to set up shop in the UK. The UK Expansion Visa allows an individual to live and work in the UK in order to set up a new branch of an existing company.
As long as the individual already works for that company in a European location, they may remain in the UK to set up the new business for up to five years. For the UK, this could mean an influx of exciting new tech companies which will not only add to the UK’s technical reputation but will also create jobs for talented tech employees.
As well as bringing some incredible tech talent to the UK, employees from different backgrounds can also bring a breath of fresh air in terms of new ideas. Diversity is extremely important for any business as it allows for new ideas and perspectives which a UK company may not previously have considered. AI companies depend on innovative ideas, so they will want a diverse pool of employees to bring new insights. New perspectives is one of the most important traits AI companies look for when hiring employees.
An example of this may be something as simple as adapting to new working hours which improves employee wellbeing and increase productivity and efficiency for the business.
While most good companies are prepared to pay for top talent, it goes without saying that most are also having to tighten their belts at the moment. For this reason, employees from overseas can be a great investment as, in many cases, they will demand lower salaries than those from the UK.
That is absolutely not to say that these employees are inferior to those from the UK but simply that they are used to earning lower salaries in their home country.
As technology makes the world increasingly smaller, many businesses tend to have overseas clients and suppliers. Because of this, having an employee who speaks two or more languages can be extremely helpful in not just communication but offering more professional communication, such as ensuring that important documents are correct.
Moving the UK AI Tech Sector Forward
While overseas employees can greatly benefit a UK business in a number of ways, it is the responsibility of the employer to check to ensure that the employee has the necessary visa and fits all of the requirements for working and living in the UK. Failing to do so can result in severe penalties for the business.
As we move into a post-Brexit world, there are many opportunities available for both tech employers and employees from overseas as long as everybody involved follows the rules closely.
For an employer looking to retain staff from overseas, the first port of call is to ask to see evidence of his or her right to work in the UK. Employers should also note the length of the stay permitted. In some cases, it’s possible to extend this but there are some tight regulations which need to be noted for this to happen.
Immigration is Crucial for AI Startups in the UK
The United Kingdom’s AI sector depends on talented professionals. The country’s lenient immigration system has made things a lot easier. They will rely on immigrants to provide quality labor in the future.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on immigration law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.