TIGA, a UK games industry trade body, has welcomed the news that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended the retention and expansion the Tier 2 (General) visas framework and reduce the salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600, stating it “could help to ensure that the video games industry can still access the highly skilled developers that it needs post-Brexit”.
The UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee recommended that a number of jobs related to the video game industry should be included in the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) last year. The list – which is used to prioritise visa applications from immigrant candidates with expertise in a range of professions – was recently been updated to reflect shortages found across many creative industries, including roles commonly needed in the video games sector.
“TIGA welcomes the attention given to sector-specific needs for the STEM and creative industries in the MAC’s report and the recommendation for sector-specific visas for these industries,” said Dr Richard Wilson OBE, CEO of TIGA. “The MAC’s proposal that the existing framework for Tier 2 (General) visas should remain as an employer-sponsored route and should be retained with a salary threshold expanded to include medium and highly skilled workers, could help to ensure that the video games industry can still access the highly skilled developers that it needs post-Brexit.
“However, if the UK Government does proceed to introduce a points-based migration system, then the top three criteria should be ‘work experience’, ‘having a job offer’ and ‘language proficiency’.
“Many games businesses will also welcome the MAC’s recommendation lowering the salary threshold for migrants with a job offer to £25,600 from a suggested £30,000,” Wilson added. “The UK video games industry is a creative, high technology, high skills, export focused industry. It is essential that the sector can access the best global talent so that it can continue to contribute to the success of the UK economy.”
The Migration Advisory Committee specifically noted that while “there are initiatives to tackle this”, the UK video games industry “sits well below the average for gender and BAME representation”, as well reporting that the digital skills gap “is larger in the UK than anywhere else in Europe”.
In related news, TIGA also today launched its Manifesto for London 2020, saying it will work with the London Mayor to “maintain a strong, effective and reasonable voice for the video games industry in the media, government and political circles, accredit UK video games degree courses via TIGA’s effective and efficient University Accreditation System to ensure that universities and colleges produce graduates with industry-relevant skills and to promote best practice in higher education for games” and “enhance industry-academia links and knowledge sharing with respect to educational and skills requirements for the sector”.
It also pledges to promote the TIGA STAR system to identify excellent employers and to promote best practice in the video games industry and provide “an authoritative source of data on the state of the UK video games industry” by “promoting best practice, sharing knowledge and celebrating success by delivering the annual TIGA Games Industry Awards and by publishing practical business guides for the industry”.
“TIGA’s 2020 manifesto for the London Mayoral Elections sets out a plan for reinforcing our successful video games industry in London,” Wilson OBE commented. “London has a dynamic video games sector. Leading games companies, including Sony and Space Ape Games, are based in London and studios have access to highly skilled developers and leading universities. However, many studios still struggle to scale up, raise finance and recruit the necessary skilled people.
“TIGA’s 2020 manifesto for the London Mayoral Elections sets out a plan for reinforcing our capital’s successful video games industry. By strengthening start-ups, improving access to finance and enhancing skills we can ensure that London’s video games sector will grow, increase and expand.”