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Brexit 'could widen the UK's tech skills gap'

Survey finds UK may not be able to attract top talent after leaving EU

The challenges caused by the Brexit vote could widen the skills gap in the UK tech industry, according to a new report.

Analysis by job website Hired in its "Mind the Gap" report found that gaps in the supply and demand of vital skills may hold back the UK tech sector's growth. One in three people working in the UK tech sector come from another European country.

The report said that Britain's position as a digital powerhouse has been dependent on bringing in these kinds of high-skilled workers to supplement to the country's home-grown talent.

"The skills gap will only worsen if the UK can't attract the best talent, wherever it's from," said the report's authors.

"If Brexit makes it harder for employers to attract overseas talent, the UK needs to develop a base of digital skills within its homegrown population."

It also said that UK's global competitiveness against US tech hubs is an area of concern. Average salaries for tech workers in London are substantially lower than in Silicon Valley and New York, which have salaries 38 per cent and 35 per cent higher, respectively, than the UK.

The report found a worrying trend when looking at the pipeline of tech-savvy students entering the workforce. Seventy-four per cent of tech workers have a degree a much higher proportion than the national average. However, the number of UK students graduating with computer science qualifications has dropped considerably since 2002.

Jacqueline de Rojas, president of trade industry body TechUK, said: "While the tech sector has achieved great success, the UK's phenomenal digital potential must be matched with a robust and growing talent pipeline to realise the opportunity for the UK to be a global leader in tech for decades to come.

"The UK needs people with the skills to help them keep pace and thrive in a digital future. This starts with inclusion we must make sure that no part of the UK is left behind in the digital revolution, and people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds are given the tools and access to education to develop their digital skills."

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