Tech talent visa applications up by 48% in two years

·3-min read
More global talent is seeking a career in the UK's tech industry. Photo: Ilya Pavlov/Unsplash
More global talent is seeking a career in the UK's tech industry. Photo: Ilya Pavlov/Unsplash

Applications for a technology jobs visa that allows global talent to work in the UK's tech sector have shot up by almost half in just two years.

The Tech Nation Global Talent Visa has seen applications increase significantly over the past two years, with 45% and 48% increases respectively, according to official endorsing body Tech Nation.

Since November 2018, it has received 1,975 applications and endorsed 920 visas from over 50 countries worldwide. Demand is expected to increase in 2021 with the EU residents also having to apply.

Over half (52%) of those endorsed for the Tech Nation Global Talent Visa since 2014 are employees at some of the UK's leading tech firms, helping to fill existing talent gaps.

Meanwhile, nearly one in three (28%) are tech founders “bringing ideas, talent and capital into the UK’s fast growing tech sector,” Tech Nation found.

In 2020, the visa enabled 421 founders to set up business in the UK, up slightly from 400 in 2019.

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This global talent is distributed right across the UK, with two in five (41%) successful applicants for the visa being based outside of London, working regional tech hubs, the research found.

App and software development; AI and machine learning; and fintech are the most popular sectors among endorsed applications, “reflecting growth in those tech subsectors”, according to Tech Nation.

India, the US, and Nigeria are the top three countries applicants come from via the Tech Nation visa.

The data also shows labour markets have shifted considerably. The number of people in the UK searching online for terms related to UK tech visas skyrocketed by 200% between April and September 2020.

This is reflected globally too, with a the number of people internationally searching for these terms doubling in countries like the US and India.

Cyber skills are becoming increasingly important within the UK, with demand shooting up by a massive 351% in Wales, while the east of England (140%) and west midlands (86%) also showing increases.

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Meanwhile, demand for AI skills has increased by 111% from 2017 to 2019, with Northern Ireland and Wales seeing the greatest increases of 418% and 200% respectively.

“The UK provides rich opportunities for entrepreneurs to set up, flourish and scale a business. The Global Talent Visa is crucial to making this process easy and accessible,” said Stephen Kelly, chair of Tech Nation.

“[This research] shows that, despite the pandemic, international interest to work in the UK tech sector has never been higher.

“Attracting tomorrow’s tech leaders to the UK is crucial to the continued growth of the sector, the UK’s place in the world, and driving the nation through recovery to growth in the digital age.”

Minister for digital and culture Caroline Dinenage said: “It's no surprise the UK's world-beating technology sector appeals to international talent. Our dynamic companies reflect the UK’s long-standing reputation for innovation and are renowned on the global stage.

“We are open to the brightest and the best talent, and this visa scheme makes it easier for companies across the country to recruit the talent they need to grow.”

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