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Oscar Williams

News editor

Brexit is already hampering London tech executives’ ability to hire top talent

Brexit is already having a substantial impact on London tech executives’ ability to hire top international talent, new research has found.

A survey by Tech London Advocates has revealed that a third of firms have seen talks with potential overseas hires break down as a result of Brexit.

In addition, nearly two thirds of entrepreneurs surveyed said that Brexit has damaged the sector’s international reputation.

Russ Shaw, founder of London Tech Advocates, said diminishing access to European talent will make growing a tech company harder.

“But London is focused on strengthening its relationship with tech hubs across Europe and around the world that are already fuelling our investment pipeline,” he added.

The research has been announced as Shaw is due to unveil a new network of tech trade bodies under the banner Global Tech Advocates.

It brings together tech leaders from the Nordics, the North of England, San Francisco Bay Area, Belfast, Singapore, Spain and Shanghai.

“Global Tech Advocates puts London at the heart of an international tech community including some of the fastest growing tech hubs across the globe,” said Shaw.

“Our tech entrepreneurs are committed to the future success of London tech, and the good news is tech leaders from around the world want to work with us.”

The new data about the impact of Brexit on hiring comes a day after the government unveiled new measures to fill the skills gap left by Brexit.

Theresa May announced yesterday that the government would be doubling the number of tier one visas available to high-skilled workers.

But Shaw cast doubt upon whether the measure would go far enough to address the Brexit skills shortage, given that the visas are only available to founders of businesses looking to start up in the UK.

“The big issue isn’t this top talent, this tier one talent,” he told NS Tech. “I’m really concerned about tier two level and we haven’t heard anything yet about any overhaul to the immigration system.”

Shaw said that the number of tier two visas, which are available to software engineers, data scientists, and product managers, must be increased to the tens of thousands.

“The number of people coming from the EU to the UK for these jobs is dropping. They don’t want to go into a market in which there is uncertainty around immigration policy. They don’t want to move their partners, their families to a country that still hasn’t resolved its immigration system.”

Quizzed over whether the move would be enough to protect the sector after Brexit, culture secretary Karen Bradley told Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday: “What we’re doing today is another step in our work on tech, demonstrating to the industry that we’re listening to them, that we’re walking with them.”