TIGA, a UK trade body, is asking the UK government to protect the status of existing European workers in the games industry in the UK. In a statement Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, spoke about some of his concerns following the recent vote for the UK to leave the EU:
“The existing rights of EU workers already present and working in the UK should be protected so that they can continue to live and work in the UK with the confidence and assurance that they are not going to be asked to leave the UK at some stage. This is just, reasonable and practical. The Government must also clarify the status of EU workers who enter the UK following the EU referendum and prior to the UK’s exit from the EU.
“Looking ahead, TIGA recognises that given the outcome of the referendum and also the position that the EU may take in any negotiations, it may be impossible to preserve free movement rights in their current form. In that case, the UK will need an effective and efficient migration system.
“Firstly, the existing immigration cap that applies to skilled, sponsored workers will almost certainly need to be increased from 20,700 in order to accommodate the needs of UK employers in the future. Secondly, certain roles within the games sector where there is a specific skills shortage, for example, Engine Programmer, Game Analyst and Senior Game Designer, may need to be added to the Shortage Occupation List to ensure that employers can recruit the employees they need without undue delay.
“Thirdly, any new immigration system must minimise some of the costs and complexity of the current points based immigration system as it is likely that any replacement will need to deal with work permits on a far larger scale than it is used for at present. It is vital that any new arrangements are not onerous or complex and that industry is not held back by skills shortages.”
TIGA currently estimates that 15% of the UK games industry consists of workers form the EU. Considering how video game creation requires a lot of highly skilled workers, it’s understandable that TIGA is concerned about the removal of these workers, especially considering how the UK already suffers from a lack of quality programmers. EU workers, as well as those from outside of the EU, frequently fill this gap.
There are, of course, other concerns facing the UK games industry in light of the recent referendum. Many companies, such as Sega and Activision, have their European headquarters in the UK. Will these companies leave the UK to place themselves in a more appropriate environment in Europe? Sega, a company who has frequently invested in the UK games industry, will no doubt question further investment.
Unfortunately, there are just too many questions and not enough answers about what the effects of Brexit will be, especially considering how those who lead the campaign don’t actually have a plan on what will happen following the UK’s departure from the EU.