Posted July 11, 2016 | Recruitment Industry, Scotland | No Comments »

Brexit: More questions than answers for Scotland’s technology companies

Uncertainty continues in Scotland’s Technology sector following the UK’s historic vote to leave the European Union. Surveys conducted by Informatics Ventures, the organisation which supports Scottish technology companies, found a negative opinion amongst the community who feel Brexit is bad for business. The vast majority (81%) of Scottish start-ups did not support the campaign to leave the EU; those surveyed said the vote to leave the EU will be bad for the sector, with only nine percent believing that it will have a positive impact.

Jason Gorman, a software development practitioner, trainer, coach and author (and founder of Codemanship) conducted a Twitter survey of developers and found that 1 in 3 developers working in the UK were European. He goes on to discuss the uncertainties of the UK tech industry possibly losing 1 in 3 developers (130 thousand skilled individuals). With an already crippling deficit for these skills in the UK, uncertainties of Europeans’ right to remain could be a major cause for concern for the technology sector.

It’s not all doom and gloom

Despite the uncertainties and unanswered questions following Brexit we believe there is no need for the tech sector to panic just yet. We do know for certain that nothing will happen immediately and having been around long enough to have seen major changes and trends in Scotland’s technology industry – admittedly nothing as big or significant as Brexit has come along in the past – we believe that the industry is robust enough to overcome the uncertainties which lie ahead.

Although the UK Government won’t comment on Europeans right to remain, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reassured the 173,000 European nationals living in Scotland , saying: “My message today – to EU citizens and to their representatives in Scotland – remains simple: Scotland is your home, you are welcome and your contribution to our economy, our society and our culture is valued.”

The technology sector in Scotland boasts a growth rate of 43.4% over the last 5 years, second only to London, with Edinburgh being the second highest paying city for technology roles in the UK. There are an estimated 80,000 people working in the sector with a need for a further 11,000 vacancies to be filled per annum.

The question of Scotland’s potential to remain part of the EU (even if that means Independence from the UK and all that may bring) still lacks clarity. However an article in Diginomica titled “Independent digital thinking for a post-Brexit Scotland?” highlights the digital infrastructure and groundwork which exist in Scotland already which will serve Scotland well regardless of the outcome. The article highlights how far along digital thinking is in Scottish Government, with the decision to recruit a Chief Digital Office for Social Security and a Programme Director for Scotland Act ICT Delivery and Transformation. It also comments that these two senior digital roles come at a time when a majority of Scottish local authorities have teamed-up to hire a shared CDO, something that their English counterparts have yet to manage. Twenty-six of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are joining forces to recruit a shared chief digital officer to work across the sector.

Leadership and Collaboration

Helping to ease the uncertainties facing Scottish business is the joint statement calling for “leadership and collaboration”, issued and signed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Financial Enterprise, Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Confederation of British Industry and Institute of Directors.

To businesses, we applaud the immediate response: businesses doing what they do best by maintaining ‘business as usual’ when trading with European Union markets, and exploring the possible opportunities that lie ahead, both in European markets and globally. We underline our belief that Scotland is a great place to do business and that we are, ‘open for business.’ Our organisations will continue to use our resources and connections to promote this message.”

In addition to this, the statement reflects the First Minister’s clear protection for Europeans in Scotland: “Access to a talented, skilled workforce, including the clear protection of EU nationals currently studying, living and working in Scotland, because their skills are crucial to the success of our businesses”; and “Support for non-UK EU nationals who run businesses in Scotland” are both priorities according to the statement, which can be read in full here.

Brexit: Brexit: More questions than answers for Scotland’s technology companies

Brexit: More questions than answers for Scotland’s technology companies


Enigma People is an award winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland.

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