May dou­bles visa num­bers for UK tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By James Tit­comb

THERESA MAY has dou­bled the num­ber of spe­cial­ist tech­nol­ogy visas avail­able to high-skilled work­ers en­ter­ing the UK from out­side the EU, in a sig­nif­i­cant boost to Bri­tish start-ups that have feared a post-Brexit skills short­age.

As part of a pack­age of sup­port mea­sures for the tech in­dus­try to be an­nounced to­day, the Prime Min­is­ter will in­crease to 2,000 the an­nual al­lowance of “ex­cep­tional tal­ent” visas granted to var­i­ous in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing com­puter pro­gram­mers and IT ex­perts.

It comes with £61m of fund­ing to be in­cluded in next week’s Bud­get. The money will be used to grow Tech City, the Gov­ern­ment-spon­sored body that pro­motes the UK’s tech sec­tor, into a na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion, to help the pub­lic sec­tor adopt new tech­nol­ogy and to train teenagers in on­line se­cu­rity.

Mrs May said the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor had the “full back­ing of Gov­ern­ment”, and wanted to “se­cure a strong fu­ture for our thriv­ing tech sec­tor”. The tech visa scheme was started by David Cameron in 2014 in a bid to com­bat a per­ceived skills short­age as Lon­don grew into an in­ter­na­tional tech hub.

It ini­tially had just a trickle of ap­pli­ca­tions but de­mand soared when the rules were re­laxed in 2015 and have risen again since the Brexit vote. The Tech City-run scheme had an al­lowance of 200, out of the 1,000 “Tier 1” visas, which also cover arts, hu­man­i­ties and sci­ences. The ad­di­tional 1,000 to be an­nounced to­day will be as­signed to each field ac­cord­ing to de­mand.

The Prime Min­is­ter, who will to­day hold a sum­mit of UK’s tech in­dus­try fig­ures, said she wanted to en­sure that start-ups from out­side Lon­don would be sup­ported by the scheme, and has or­dered the Home Of­fice to en­cour­age wider take-up of the scheme.

The new fund­ing in­cludes £21m for Tech City UK to be re­branded as Tech Na­tion, a bid to ex­pand the body na­tion­wide. It said it would set up a num­ber of re­gional hubs across the coun­try.

“It is ab­so­lutely right that this dy­namic sec­tor ... has the full back­ing of the Gov­ern­ment,” Mrs May said.

“As we pre­pare to leave the Euro­pean Union, I am clear that Bri­tain will re­main open for busi­ness.

“That means the Gov­ern­ment do­ing all it can to se­cure a strong fu­ture for our thriv­ing tech sec­tor.”

‘As we pre­pare to leave the Euro­pean Union, I am clear that Bri­tain will re­main open for busi­ness’

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