On 17 May 2017, Tech Nation hosted the Tech Nation Visa Breakfast, Bridging the UK’s talent gap at RSA House.
It was a beautiful morning in London and more than 100 people filled the room to find out more about this exceptional visa. I say exceptional because only 200 people from around the world can be successful in obtaining this visa. And that is because they will have proven to Tech Nation that they have an exceptional talent or an exceptional promise in the digital and technology sector.
MB Christie, COO of TechCity opened the event by giving us some statistics about the applications.
In 2015/2016, only 84 applications were received with 77% being endorsed. Perhaps it was the lack of marketing or the requirements were too strict which in turn put potential applicants off.
But in 2016/2017, they relaxed the criteria and invested in heavy marketing throughout the UK which included sessions in the UK to help applicants with their process.
As a result, the applications increased to 386 with 72% being endorsed. That is 4.5 times more applicants than the previous year.
20% of applicants were from US, while 20% came from India.
And disappointingly, for every one woman who applied, there were 2 applications from her male counterparts.
Listening to Tom Yoritaka from America now based in London, share his journey of the steps he took in securing his visa, my memories came flooding back from the stress, the strict requirements and the amount of research needed to be done but to be rewarded with the visa at the end was worth all the stress.
“Be unique and different, present a unique value proposition, tell them what you want to achieve in the UK in 5 years and choose the right experts for your application who can make an impact” were genuine words of advice from Tom.
Moving onto the panel after the presentations, there was a discussion about how important it is to bring tech talent into the UK so that we can compete effectively with the rest of the world. Which led to the question, are 200 visas enough to bridge the digital and technology skills gap in the UK? Personally, I think not. However, Tech City UK now has the right to endorse another 50 applications, increasing the number to a possible 250 exceptional talent visas.
Again, I think that number is still too low however, the elephant in the room was evidently Brexit. And I will leave the elephant in that room.
Diversity was also a topic for discussion because despite London being a multicultural city, the UK tech sector is predominately made up of white British males. While the panel consisted of all but one female, the panel agreed that diversity brings quality to tech businesses. This is because diversity brings new ideas, innovative solutions and inclusion amongst team members which leads to forging better cross cultural business relationships.
Being based in the North of England, I often travel to London for business and to network amongst my peers. It just so happened that I was in London at the same time as this event and am interested in the developments of the TechNation Visa so I can help fellow applicants.
There is a fastrack route which applicants can select if they want to be based outside of Greater London. I chose this route and my application was reviewed alot quicker than if I wanted to be based in London.
Tech Nation have now also started an alumni via Linkedin for successful applicants to network amongst fellow exceptionally talented peers.
*It has been announced on 15 November 2017 that the number of Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visas to be granted has doubled from 200 to 400 per year! Read more here.