Risk of post-Brexit tech brain drain

21 August 2017

Arrow Group CEO James Parsons says the UK cannot guarantee “a healthy supply of talent” for companies that need to expand their tech teams.

Arrow Group CEO James Parsons says the UK cannot guarantee “a healthy supply of talent” for companies that need to expand their tech teams.

The number of skilled tech workers from the EU relocating to the UK has declined since last year’s Brexit vote, says new data from the Arrows Group. It also reveals that there has been a notable increase in top UK digital talent moving elsewhere.

Arrows Group specialises in providing talent and consultancy services, and says it has more than 2,000 developers, tech specialists and project managers on its books. Drawing data from that community, the company has looked at how last year’s vote to leave the EU and the triggering of Article 50 in March has affected jobs in the UK tech sector.

It found that some overseas candidates are turning down competitive roles in the UK. Arrow Group founder and CEO James Parsons says: “Over the last year, we’ve seen a 10 per cent reduction of skilled workers from within the EU relocating to the UK. This trend is also being felt at a business level as some of our clients are apprehensive about increasing their investment in the UK, given current uncertainties.”

According to Parsons, as many of Arrow’s clients want to expand their tech teams quickly, they need to invest in a location that can give them a healthy supply of talent to meet their objectives, which they cannot guarantee here in the UK.

“If this trend continues, it could lead to a ‘brain drain’ of top UK talent, as generally they will want to work where the exciting projects are. We’re already seeing an increase in best-in-class developers taking roles in places like Lisbon and Zurich which continue to be fast-growing hubs for tech innovation.”

Parsons continues by pointing out that this is not good news given that the UK’s digital skills gap is already large and where a significant amount of tech talent comes from abroad.

“My advice to any UK business at this time of uncertainty is that they should consider expanding their global footprint and potentially broaden operations to where the talent is located, as well as be proactive in expanding their pipeline of homegrown UK digital talent.”

UK IT jobs on the rise