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Insight: UK government scheme to attract overseas tech talent is struggling

Sam Shead | Sept. 22, 2014
A government scheme designed to attract some of the best global tech talent to the UK is understood to be struggling, Techworld can reveal.

In May, Shaw and his team partnered with the Home Office to offer a series of immigration workshops to UK startups. The workshops, which fall under a programme know as Home Office Hours, are designed to give UK tech entrepreneurs and businesses access to immigration officials.

Home Office Hours expansion

"At the moment it's for UK startups," said Shaw. "The Home Office Hours have been a good way for startups to say, 'Look, I've got people in India, in China, in the US tat I want to bring here but I can't. How can you help me or what process do I need to follow?'"

But Shaw believes that if the scheme was taken overseas then it would help the Home Office and Tech City UK to attract more talent.

"The idea came from our first Home Office Hours event at Google Campus where a guy from Dubai put his hand up and said: 'This is interesting. If you did this event in Dubai you'd fill 50 visas in one afternoon."

Shaw said he is in discussions with the Home Office about expanding Home Office Hours to San Francisco. "Following on from that I'm hoping we can do one in New York early next year. I've said look other places might be Bangalore.

Tech City UK was unable to say if it has endorsed any tech workers since it was granted the power to do so in April. The organisation added that it was hard to give a definitive figure on the number of visas that it has awarded because there are several applications in the pipeline at the moment.

Ravi Lal, head of operations at Tech City UK, told Techworld that the "bar has been set very high" for candidates looking to apply for the exceptional talent visa.

"Since its launch in April 2014, we have seen interest in the scheme and Tech City UK is currently promoting the programme internationally to ensure we continue to raise awareness of this opportunity and attract highly-skilled non-EU citizens to the UK," he said.

Tech City UK claims it is promoting the visa through UK Trade & Investment outposts around the world.


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