27 Jun 2017

Programming Brexit: How will the UK’s IT sector fare?

Mikkel Barslund / Matthias Busse

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The British economy has always been able to rely on a continuous inflow of high-skilled workers from the rest of the EU and the UK is currently home to over three million EU citizens. As a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, however, the image of the UK in the eyes of foreign workers may have become tarnished.

By using LinkedIn data, the authors of this study analyse the movements of IT professionals between the EU and the UK and thereby illustrate what is at stake for the UK, as exemplified by this particular ‘shortage sector’. LinkedIn data show that on an annual basis the UK gains over 6,000 IT experts more than it loses to the EU. Moreover, these mobile IT professionals tend to be much more qualified than domestic IT experts are. This reliance on the EU for IT recruitment – one in ten new hires comes from the EU – suggests that even if the UK is not aiming to restrict high-skilled immigration, curbing overall immigration could have unintended negative consequences for its capability to attract talented EU nationals in the future. The UK government should perhaps bear this in mind during negotiations with the EU27.

CEPS produced a similar study mapping international IT talent flows from an EU perspective. That study can be downloaded here.

Mikkel Barslund is Research Fellow and Matthias Busse is Researcher in the Economic Policy unit at CEPS.

The authors are grateful to LinkedIn for providing the data insights for this study.

No. of pages: 12

CEPS Policy Insights offer analyses of a wide range of key policy questions facing Europe. Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed are attributable only to the authors and not to any institution with which they are associated.