Tech sector must act now to prevent Brexit brain drain
A key figure at tech giant MoneySupermarket fears Brexit will dramatically impact the digital community if EU nationals are not looked after.
John Harvey, transformation lead at the price comparison website, worries that new tech talent could be deterred from entering the UK after it leaves the European Union.
He cited recently reported figures which show a 96 per cent drop in EU nurses registering to work in Britain since the Brexit announcement.
"If a similar drop-off was to hit the digital community it could have a dramatic impact on business performance," he told BusinessCloud.
"We've got to make sure we look after the EU nationals that we have in our organisations – not just for MoneySupermarket, but collectively.
"There will be a lot of people who are very nervous about the whole situation.
“If we really want to tackle this digital shortage we have to do it together… we've got to move now and act quickly."
However Harvey also sounded a note of optimism in revealing that MoneySupermarket has not seen a dramatic decrease in its recruitment of EU nationals, revealing that 25 per cent of the company’s latest hires are from the EU.
Harvey was speaking to us at the Digital Skills Festival, held by trade body Manchester Digital at the Lowry Hotel.
Manchester Digital MD Katie Gallagher cited the North West tech sector’s high dependence on European talent which she says now feels cast out by the UK.
“Some of this workforce has already felt the cultural repercussions of Brexit,” she told BusinessCloud. “They feel they're not particularly welcome in this country.
“Companies have had to go the extra mile to reassure their EU staff."
The trade body’s research suggests that the sector overwhelmingly fought against the popular vote to leave the EU. Gallagher suggested that businesses are preparing for the loss of European workers in 2019.
"Before the Brexit vote we surveyed our members and about 92 per cent were remain," she said.
“Businesses are starting to look at next steps and contingency when that free movement of European people does come to an end."
Gallagher suggested that a group effort between North West businesses could ease the impact of the decision.
"It's really down to genuine collaboration," she said. "As an industry we're incredibly resilient."