TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry,today condemned the UK Coalition Government’s proposal to impose interim and permanent limits on highly skilled migrants and highly skilled workers with a job offer, as“poorly targeted” and potentially damaging to the UK video games industry. The Coalition’s intention to reduce immigration to‘tens-of-thousands’ each year could also harm the sector. TIGA made the comments in a letter to the Rt Hon Theresa May, the Home Secretary and in a formal response to the UK Borders Agency’s (UKBA) consultation document Securing our Border: Controlling Migration. Limits on Non-EU Economic Migration.
Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO said:
“This is a poorly targeted measure. TIGA strongly opposes the proposed interim limits and permanent limits on highly skilled migrants and especially highly skilled workers with a job offer. Our research shows that 39 per cent of developers suffered from skill shortages in 2009. Game development is a highly skilled business and technology changes rapidly in the games industry, with the consequence that the specialist skills needed by the industry may simply not exist in the UK.
“If skilled personnel are not available in the UK then games businesses must be free to recruit them from elsewhere. These arbitrary limits could prevent development studios from completing projects on time, stymie expansion plans and limit the ability of studios to win new contracts.
“There should be no restrictions on the freedom of publisher owned studios to facilitate intra-company transfers. This would simply damage the ability of studios to complete their projects on time and impair the quality of game development.
“These proposals to limit migration could reinforce the existing trend for investment and jobs to flow from the UK games industry to other more business friendly jurisdictions.”
The Coalition Government’s aim is to reduce net migration from outside the EU to tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament. If the Government achieves this by substantially reducing Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants and by prohibiting inter-company transfers, the UK games industry could be damaged. Constraining the ability of businesses to recruit skilled workers, slowing the completion of development projects and hampering the capacity of companies to win new projects is not a clever way to help the games industry in particular or UK business in general.
Jason Kingsley, TIGA Chairman and CEO and Creative Director of Rebellion, said:
“First the Coalition Government drops Games Tax Relief, leaving our industry at a serious tax disadvantage vis-a-vis our overseas rivals, then it plans to prevent us from recruiting the best and brightest to work at UK studios. If the Coalition Government is serious about supporting a thriving video games sector in the UK then it urgently needs to reconsider both of these policy positions.”
TIGA added that it was important for employers who sponsor migrants to also demonstrate acommitment to training British workers. However, employers should not be required to provide a specific type of training, for example, apprenticeships– this would be far too prescriptive and inflexible. Instead, employers could be asked to make a commitment to provide a certain number of days training per annum in order to enhance skills.
Notes to editors:
TIGA is the trade association representing the UK’s games industry. The majority of our members are either independent games developers or in-house publisher owned developers. We also have games publishers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership. TIGA was awarded‘Trade Association of the Year’ and the‘Member Recruitment Award’ at the Trade Association Forum Best Practice Awards 2010.
TIGA's vision is to make the UK the best place in the world to do games business. We focus on three sets of activities: political representation, generating media coverage and developing services that enhance the competitiveness of our members. This means that TIGA members are effectively represented in the corridors of power, their voice is heard in the media and they receive benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities.
For further information, please contact Eva Field, TIGA PR Manager on: 07814 039 983, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .