Games trade body Ukie launched a new report today outlining the potential impact of Brexit on the UK games industry, stating that access to highly skilled international talent was one of the top priorities for UK games businesses.
The report, entitled State of Play: The UK games industry's priorities for the EU negotiations, was presented at an event in The Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, and found that 61 per cent of games companies rely on global talent to help create their new products and services. Of those businesses employing people from overseas, EU staff make up an average of 34 per cent of their workforce. Meanwhile, employees from the rest of the world make up an average of 17 per cent.
More worryingly, 38 per cent of businesses are already experiencing negative impacts on their ability to recruit and retain talent, as Brexit is perceived as making the UK an increasingly less attractive destination for EU and international candidates.
40 per cent also said they were considering relocating part or all of their business outside the UK, and of that figure 23 per cent had already been approached by other places, with Germany, Canada and Spain proffering the highest number of offers.
This is partly due to a skills shortage in the UK, with 65 per cent of businesses saying they hired international employees due to a shortage of applicants having the right skills at home. As a result, Ukie's report also calls for an urgent need to increase support for skills initiatives to widen the UK's talent pool.
In addition to talent acquisition, games business said that retaining access to the European market was another key priority. The report found that non-tariff barriers to trade present more of a threat to UK games businesses than financial tariffs, and said that any future trading relationships with both the EU and international partners should seek to enshrine the existing trade liberalisations the games industry currently enjoys.
The report also stated that all funding currently available to the games sector must remain in place or have an equivalent UK fund in place by the point of Brexit. Any review of funding should also include further support for the production of games content, skills and international trade activity, and should consider a post-referendum review of other successful UK initiatives such as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist OBE said: “We know that evidence is key to informing policy and want the information presented in this report to inform the direction that the country will follow both in our upcoming negotiations with the EU as well as our ambition to become a truly Global Britain.
"The UK games industry blends the best of British innovation and creativity and we have the opportunity to lead the world in AI, VR, AR development through what we do in the games industry. We look forward to working with Government to seize the opportunities in key areas such as skills, immigration and public funding reform to create a twenty-first century globally competitive future.”