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article imageBrexit: UK fast tracks visas for researchers Special

By Tim Sandle     Jan 29, 2020 in Science
One thing appears certain in post-Brexit Britain: there will continue to be a shortage of scientists and technologists, meaning that the nation will be dependent upon recruiting overseas talent.
This is signaled by the U.K. Government seeking to put in place fast track visas for highly skilled science and research talent. The announcement indicates that a new, fast-track visa scheme to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians will open on 20 February, 2020.
The government has identified certain sectors like green energy, biotech and space science as a focus for investment, support and talent promotion (both in the U.K. and overseas).
To gain an insight into the impact of the new government policy, Digital Journal caught up with Mark Smith, Partner of Innovation Incentives at Ayming (a business performance consultancy who specialize in innovation).
According to Smith the news represents: "a positive step". However, he adds a note of caution: "the government will need to tread carefully. In order to hit our R&D expenditure targets, we must retain access to the EU's giant pool of talent."
Citing a recent survey about international R&D practices., Smith notes: "73 per cent of respondents from our recent report said that the factor which most influences their organisation’s ability to undertake R&D activity is access to talent. As it stands, EU workers account for around half of the scientific workforce in the UK, so this talent pipeline must remain firmly open or UK innovation will take a substantial hit."
Furthermore, Smith says: "The Government has ambitious R&D spending targets so there's a clear conflict of intentions. The success of all research is dependent on highly skilled labour and it can be very tricky to attract and retain talent. The more talent the UK has in this field, the more businesses can allocate to R&D spending. It's impossible to budget for R&D activity if you don't have the resources to do it."
In other words, the British government needs a plan and to put science and technology and the heart of its industrial policy.
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