Brexit is coming. Prime Minister Theresa May is finally triggering the long-dreaded Article 50 March 29, beginning procedures to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
During the campaign, the tech industry was one of the most vocal advocates for the Stay vote, according to CBR Online. Fears about the potential consequences of Britain leaving the Digital Single Market in particular, a planned sector of the EU that covers telecom, e-commerce and digital marketing, are running rampant in the industry. Experts and members of the industry worry that the nation would face disastrous consequences by pulling out of the Digital Single Market.
Leaving the market would put British companies at a disadvantage, according to MuleSoft founder Ross Mason, since it would increase the overhead costs for British tech businesses. Global regulations, Mason said, or at least broad regional regulations are better suited for the tech industry, which is not limited by physical borders the way other industries are.
In addition to access to the marketplace, Brexit threatens the tech industry’s access to talented foreign workers. According to research by techUK conducted in 2016, 45 percent of digitally intensive job vacancies were filled by foreign-born workers. A quarter of the employees in the software and computer industry are foreign-born, and the vast majority of those immigrants were from the European Union.
And statistics are already showing a decrease in labor coming from the EU triggered by the Brexit decision. The Arrows Group found this year a 10 percent reduction of skilled EU workers migrating to the UK. This is on top of a national shortage of talented labor in the tech industry that already exists, making this a compounding problem for the nation that lawmakers and negotiators will need to take seriously during Brexit dealings.
Further, the Digital Single Market’s economic advantage might result in the opposite effect - a British brain drain in which talented employees seek better prospects within the market and the EU. Rather than an influx of workers looking for opportunity in the UK, the nation might find that all the top talent prefers the safety of the EU to Brexit, depending on how negotiations go, and take a gamble on Kentucky Derby online betting.
Whether Brexit means the UK will pull out of the Digital Single Market remains to be seen, of course. It also has implications for those living in the UK on an Entrepreneur’s visa. But of all the negotiations that must take place over the next two years, this is perhaps one of the most crucial for one of the fastest growing industries. The threat of losing valuable skilled employees, both from a lack of foreign import and a drain out of the country, could leave one of the most important sectors in the nation financially throttled.
Tech companies drive 24 percent of the nation’s exports, according to The Guardian, and members of the industry are concerned that negotiations will fail to adequately prioritize or understand the unique nature and needs of the tech industry.
The impact will need to be measured in the coming years, but so far there are already warning signs that Brexit will slow down the capacity for growth and development in the tech sector in the UK. Lawmakers have the ability to avoid this with careful negotiations, most importantly the ability for the UK to remain in the Digital Single Market.