Points Based System for migration good in principle, but some reforms needed, says Tiga

May 21st 2009

Tiga said today that the Government’s new Points Based System (PBS) for managing migration was attractive in principle and had got off to a reasonable start. However, developers need better guidance on how the PBS arrangements work. The UK Border Agency needs better to understand the skill shortages facing the games sector. Tiga made the comments in response to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s request for information from businesses in all sectors on the regional and sectoral impact of migration. Tiga’s response will help to influence Government migration policy.

Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga, said:

“A successful UK games development sector needs a highly educated and trainable workforce in order to compete successfully. Our industry relies on highly creative, technical people with skills and qualifications in areas such as art, design, programming, artificial intelligence, animation, mathematics and physics.

“Yet research by Tiga in 2008 showed that 63% of game developers had found it difficult to fill vacancies in their organisation’s workforce over the previous 12 months. Those game developers reporting skill shortages found it particularly hard to fill vacancies for programmers, artists and designers.

“Given these recruitment problems, many UK game developers are driven to recruit staff from overseas. Approximately 10-15% of Realtime World’s workforce is recruited from outside of the European Economic Area; an additional 10% of their workforce is recruited from outside of the UK and within the European Economic Area. Likewise, around 10% of Blitz’s employees are from overseas. Many UK development studios employ a wide range of different nationalities.”

The Government’s PBS for governing migration into the UK, introduced in 2008-09, gives preference to entrepreneurs, financial high flyers and professionals such as scientists and engineers to enter the UK. In principle the new system is attractive. However, game developers have experienced some difficulties with the PBS.

• There is a lack of any specific guidance for the games development sector concerning how to use the PBS. This has made it difficult for developers to hire migrants. Only a small number of UK developers have been able to recruit migrant workers under the new system.

• UK Border Agency officials do not always appear to appreciate the needs of the UK games industry. Making a video game is different from creating a piece of commercial software. UK Border Agency officials may not always understand the specific skills shortages facing the UK video games industry. For example, some UK game developers face real difficulties recruiting individuals with skills in massive multiplayer online games (MMOs).

• Only a small number of UK developers have gone for and achieved the licence to issue the new certificates that enable them to recruit migrant workers.

• Some developers have reported that there are still pockets of frustration with the new system, not least because VISA turn-around times vary significantly, with the result that it is difficult to plan timescales for getting people into a given company.

Richard Wilson concluded:

“The new PBS for regulating migration is good in principle but we need some changes to make the system work more effectively for game developers. Developers need clear guidance on how to work within the new PBS. The UK Border Agency needs better to understand the skill shortages facing the games sector.”

Notes to editors:

1. Tiga is the national trade association that represents games developers in the UK and in Europe. We have 150 members, the majority of whom are either independent games developers or in-house publisher owned developers. We also have outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership.

2. 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: Dr Richard Wilson, Tiga CEO on: 0845 0941095; Mob: 07875 939643; or: Email: richard.wilson@tiga.org, or Eva Whitlow, TIGA PR Manager on: Mob: 07814 039 983; Email: eva@tiga.org.

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