Post-Brexit tech brain drain worries half of businesses - survey

FILE PHOTO: European Union and British flags flutter in front of the chancellery ahead of a visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

LONDON (Reuters) - Just over half of Britain’s businesses believe the country is at risk of a brain drain after Brexit, with many worried in particular about a shortage of tech skills, according to research by cloud-based software company

Paul Smith, executive vice president of Salesforce UK, said Brexit was adding to business uncertainty at the same time as companies were grappling with unprecedented levels of technological change.

“There’s no doubt the economy is changing as new technologies emerge,” he said on Thursday.

“As business leaders, it’s clear that we need to do more to show people how reskilling and gaining new tech qualifications, often with free courses and accessible tools, is easier than many think.”

The tech sector has continued to flourish in Britain since the vote to leave the European Union three years ago, despite concerns about future easy access to EU workers.

The terms and timing of Britain’s departure from the trading bloc still remains unclear.

Tech companies based in London attracted a record 2.56 billion pounds in venture capital in the first six months of 2019, more than twice as much as those in Berlin, the Mayor of London’s investment agency said last month.

The research by Salesforce found that 54% of business leaders planned to invest more to develop their own tech talent, with the same proportion looking to train older generations in new technology and 51% intending to do more to increase the skills of people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Salesforce, which has its own digital learning platform called Trailhead, partnered with Censuswide to poll 1,000 business leaders for the survey.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison