Government Must Address Tech Sector Skills Gap

Plans by the Coalition Government to restrict non-EU migration could exacerbate the existing skills gap, with 45 per cent of tech city businesses seeing the lack of skilled workers as the key challenge to London staying at the top of the tech league tables.*

Despite high costs for established and start-up tech companies, London has retained its edge throughout the economic downturn against fierce and growing competition from Berlin and Dublin as well as ambitious Nordic cities and Central Eastern markets in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Over 46 per cent of new leases in London’s West End during 2013 were from the tech and media sector. Although tech businesses are now becoming more driven by availability than the need to be in the most sought-after areas.

Guy Grantham, Head of Offices Research, Colliers International said: “Given the importance of the media and tech sectors to UK plc, it is astonishing that the government is not doing more to allow skilled migrants from outside the EU to come to this country.

“There is no doubt that enticing the likes of Facebook, Google and Cisco to Tech City has been transformative. But reality bites and Berlin, with Germany’s simplification of non-EU migration for skilled workers, lays down a challenge to expensive and space-restrained London.

“The stakes are high for the capital. Smaller start-ups become global tech players with sizeable tax revenues. We need innovative businesses in the UK and these businesses require world-leading, skilled innovators.”

Craig Satchwell, Head of EMEA Offices at Colliers International, said, “Activity levels by media and technology companies around the globe have exploded recently – the sector is now the most important and prominent business area in the world, influencing every other sector and impacting upon all aspects of our lives. It is essential that London can accommodate media and technology employment growth levels, set to rise by almost 20 per cent by 2020. To achieve this we must deliver circa 4.5 million sq ft of new office space needed to house the new headcount of 75,000 individuals, hot-desking and virtual working space.”