Calls For Tier 2 Visa Review Amid UK Digital Skills Crisis
A review of certain immigration policies is needed to help address the “digital skills crisis” in the UK, a government committee has found.
The Science and Technology Committee said 12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills with 5.8 million having never used the internet.
Committee members are calling for a review of the Tier 2 visa requirements to allow smaller businesses to get the “critical” digital skills needed from abroad, given the shortage in the UK.
The report said the digital skills gap was costing the UK economy billions of pounds a year and described the shortage as a “long-running weakness” in the UK’s approach to dealing with the issue.
A review of the qualifying requirements for shortage occupation IT jobs under Tier 2 Visas is being called for as well as making digital skills core to all apprenticeships and more to be done in schools and universities to teach digital skills.
The government has added a number of IT-based roles to its shortage occupation list but many smaller businesses are unable to take advantage of Tier 2 Visas.
Science and Technology Committee Chairwoman Nicola Blackwood said: “We need action on visas, vocational training and putting digital skills at the heart of modern apprenticeships.”
According to the Complete University Guide many companies are reporting a lack of graduates with the digital skills needed to meet demand.
Hugh Millward, director of corporate affairs at Microsoft added: “In the software industry alone there are 20,000 graduate vacancies a year, and only 7,500 computer science graduates to fill them.”