With Brexit and the impending end to freedom of movement, skills shortages in the games industry are a key concern now more than ever. There are numerous occupations in the sector struggling to be filled. Long-term, we strongly believe in investing in the domestic workforce and equipping people with the relevant digital skills to help the UK games industry grow. But in the short to medium term, getting the right international talent is absolutely crucial. Last year, our State of Play report found that 61% of games businesses relied on international talent, and 98.4% believed that EU nationals who possessed skills which matched the industry’s needs should have a blanket right to live and work in the UK.
Now is your chance to make a difference to future immigration policy and to help support the UK games industry. The Government has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a full review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and is calling for responses from the industry to determine whether the list needs updating, and if so, what occupations will be included.
What is the SOL?
The SOL consists of job occupations which are facing a shortage in the UK, where it would be sensible to fill through non-EEA migration. Essentially, these are jobs which businesses find difficult to fill with UK nationals, and so it makes it easier to employ non-EEA workers
You can see which positions are currently on the list here.
Why is this important for games?
As we know, the UK games industry faces a skills shortage - therefore, you may find yourself filling roles with those from abroad to plug the gap.
If an occupation you require filling is on this list, it can save you time and money:
- Job titles on this list do not require you the undertake the Resident Labour Market Test - where even if you know you cannot fill a position by a UK national, you must advertise it for 28 days in the UK first. Having a job title on this list enables you to skip this.
- SOL titles also do not need to meet the current five year salary of £35,000 - considering 73% of respondents to our State of Play report in 2017 had less than 50 employees, this can make hiring from abroad much more financially achievable for smaller games companies.
Essentially, by having hard-to-fill occupations recognised, you get to skip certain parts of the Tier 2 Visa process. The Tier 2 Visa is what skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area require when working in the UK. Of course, with Brexit and freedom of movement possibly coming to an end, this may i nthe future apply to EEA workers too.
Your response to this consultation can make it easier filling the exact roles you need, where you find yourself unable to by UK nationals.
How do you get involved?
A call for evidence is now open. The consultation can be responded either by an individual business, or by a trade body.
As the trade body for the UK games industry, Ukie will be submitting a response - and would like your thoughts on hiring from abroad, what skills shortages you are facing and more.
As a result, we are collecting your thoughts to present to the Government and MAC and want it make it easy as possible. You may respond to our quick survey here, which includes questions on what job titles you find difficult, how many people you have hired from abroad and more. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d prefer to respond directly to the consultation as an individual business, you can do so here.
When is the deadline?
We are collecting responses for our trade body response by the 10th of December to enable us time to compile and present it.
Individual direct responses have until the 9th of January.