Entrepreneurs urge government to consider access to tech talent after Brexit with open letter

It’s no secret that the tech sector has strong thoughts on Brexit and more particularly the recent speech Home Secretary Amber Rudd gave on immigration. This speech called for British companies to employ British employees – many business owners believe it will be a competitive disadvantage for the UK. Peter Smith, the CEO and founder of Blockchain recently stated to Business Insider that:

“The UK simply doesn’t have enough talent to compete globally. It’s going to put a lot of businesses in a tough position. If you’re in London it’s because you want to compete in a global market and no single market has enough talent to compete globally on its own.”

So yes, leaders and entrepreneurs of the UK’s fastest growing tech and IT start ups are inevitably angry, but what can be done about it? They have signed an open letter urging the government to consider the tech industry’s need to access international talent.

You can read the open letter below and see who has signed it:

Dear Editor,

Britain’s digital industries are expanding at an extraordinary pace, creating jobs and contributing some £161bn in turnover to the economy.

Companies like Just Eat, Mimecast, Shazam, Skyscanner, Mimecast and Zoopla have become household names in a relatively short time and are providing high-value jobs across the country in ways that could not have been predicted 10 years ago. No industry is escaping the impact of technology. Tech innovation has ushered in new energy providers, more efficient banking and investment companies; cheaper travel; accessible education and more.

From healthcare to investment broking tech cuts across virtually every part of our economy. Some 41 per cent of the 1.56m digital tech economy jobs in the UK are now within traditional non-digital industries, such as education and financial services. Between 2010 and 2014 the gross value added of the digital sector grew by 27 per cent, almost three times faster than the rest of economy.

The UK has become the number one spot in Europe for tech startups, with 40 per cent of all European Tech unicorns ($1bn+ valued tech businesses) based here. The sector is creating jobs almost three times faster than the wider economy. But the sector’s fast rate of growth and the limited supply of specialist skills (at least in the short-term) means that hiring international talent is essential for growth.

If tech communities were no longer able to recruit workers from the 27 EU countries, or from other states, many businesses would see their growth slow down. Government measures in recent years to encourage founders and entrepreneurs to invest in the UK would be wasted.

In the regions, the tech sector is an important source of economic growth, with 52,000 employed in the sector in Manchester and 37,000 in Birmingham. Vibrant tech hubs exist in Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol and Brighton. Britain is uniquely placed to dominate some of the fastest growing tech sectors – fintech, EdTech, gaming and HealthTech.

While efforts to build up Britain’s skills base are happening – coding in schools, apprenticeships, tech companies working more closely with universities – company founders must, in the meantime, compete in a global race for talent.

As members of Tech City’s Future Fifty tech programme, which helps some of the UK’s fastest-growing digital companies to scale up, we want to build businesses in an economy that is outward-looking and dynamic. With Brexit, must come great opportunities, but we must be careful to avoid potential pitfalls.

As tech company founders we want to work with government to find solutions to the digital industries’ need for international talent. Only with a steady flow of international and home-grown talent, British tech can continue to compete on the world’s stage.

Respectfully yours,

​Theo Duchen, Co-CEO, Acturis
Doug Monro, Co-Founder, Adzuna
Stu Taylor, CEO & Co-Founder, Algomi
Julien Hammerson, CEO, Calastone
Darren Westlake, CEO, Crowdcube
Dan Warne, MD UK & IE, Deliveroo
Paul Chrimes, MD – Operations, eToro UK
Andrew White, Founder & CEO, FundApps
James Meekings, UK Managing Director and Co-Founder, Funding Circle
Samir Desai, CEO and Co-Founder, Funding Circle
Paul Sulyok, Founder and CEO, Green Man Gaming
Andrew Pinnington, CEO, Hailo
George Hadjigeorgiou, Former CEO , Housetrip
Alastair Mitchell, President, CMO & Co-founder, Huddle
James Dear, CTO and Co-Founder, iwoca
Christoph Rieche, CEO, iwoca
Asi Sharabi, CEO, Lost My Name
Tal Oron, Founder, Lost My Name
Mark Beilby, Chairman, Lumi
Richard Taylor, CEO, Lumi
Chris Morton, Founder and CEO, Lyst
Ning Li, Founder and CEO, MADE.com
Andrew Bucher, Co-Founder & Veterinary Director, MedicAnimal
Ivan Retzignac, Founder and CEO, MedicAnimal
Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast
Michael Acton-Smith, Chairman, Mind Candy
Ian Shaw, CEO, MWR Info Security
Kevin Cornils, CEO, My Optique
Andrew Taylor, Group CEO, Nomad Digital
Demetrios Zoppos, Co-founder, OneFineStay
Graham Cooke, CEO & Co-founder, Qubit
Rhydian Lewis, CEO & Co-founder, RateSetter
James Booth, CEO & Co-founder, Scoota
Torie Chilcott, Co-founder, Scoota
Tom Valentine, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder, Secret Escapes
Andrew Fisher, Executive Chairman, Shazam
Nick Day, CEO, Small World F.S.
John Earner, CEO & Founder, Space Ape Games
Thibault Hanin, Co-Founder & CTO, Synthesio
Aldo Monteforte, CEO, The Floow
Sarah Wood, Founder, Unruly
Oliver Smith, Managing Director, EMEA, Unruly
Ross Williams, Founder and Chairman, Venntro Media Group Limited
Joe Murray, Co-CEO, Worldstores
Jay Radia, CEO, Yieldify
Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO, Zoopla Property Group
Giles Andrews, Chair and Co-founder, Zopa


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