It doesn’t matter which way you turn or where you look, everyone is still talking about Brexit.
With the delayed deadline looming, things are looking ever more desperate as Theresa May continues her attempts to get a withdrawal agreement through the House of Commons.
So, in amongst all the speculation and conjecture, what’s the current thinking in the tech industry in the face of continuing Brexit confusion?
Technology or otherwise, for the last few years ‘uncertainty’ has been the buzzword dominating Brexit talk in UK industry, and such ambiguity has negatively impacted various aspects of tech start-up growth and UK-EU collaborative developments.
Universally, businesses have struggled to come up with any form of suitable future-proofing as they helplessly attempt to prepare for the unknown. In a pivotal week for the government, tech firms will be amongst many others in hoping such uncertainty is resolved sooner rather than later, and proper contingency planning can begin.
A focus on export markets
With universal uncertainty comes the reluctance of many businesses to make significant investment decisions, and this means the UK tech market will likely suffer in the short term.
Throughout the Brexit process, UK businesses have a shown a pattern of unwillingness to trial and invest in new tech, meaning tech companies have turned their focus, and investment, towards export markets.
Should this continue, there is a real risk global tech companies will continue their investment in their operations elsewhere, leaving the British tech industry looking from afar.
Immigration & hiring concerns
One of Brexit’s most polarising elements has been the immigration debate. A major issue for the tech industry is its considerable reliance on an EU powered workforce, which is set to be dented by whatever form of Brexit comes to pass.
Consider London, where some tech firm’s staff are over 50% EU nationals. Question marks about immigration policy post-Brexit mean tech bosses harbour legitimate fears over staff retention and attraction in the coming years.
With skilled labour in the industry at a premium, tech companies may look to increase investment in home grown talent, or look further afield to talent rich territories like North America.
For EU nationals currently working in UK industry, or indeed those employing them, it may be worth consulting an immigration lawyer to advise on next steps.
OK in the end?
For all the speculation and concern, it’s anticipated that things should work out all right in the end for the UK tech industry. Regardless of a hard or soft Brexit, the UK tech industry is set to weather the storm and come out of the other side intact.
As with many other areas of industry, the UK, and more specifically London, is too attractive a prospect for global firms to simply abandon, even if short term focuses might lie elsewhere.
It’s considered that the next 12 months will be a period of consolidation for UK tech businesses. Companies will be looking to ensure the continued efficiency of their logistics, supply chains and work processes through the rest of the immediate Brexit period.
Right now, the only thing clear about Brexit is that no one knows quite what will happen. For the UK tech industry, there are some genuine concerns, but nothing it cannot survive.