Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will have a significant impact on the UK’s IT industry and access to digital skills, according to BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
Like many others in the UK technology industry, Paul Fletcher, group chief executive at BCS, warned that the decision has created a lot of uncertainty.
“This morning we start a process of huge national significance against a backdrop of uncertainty. It’s important for BCS as a chartered organisation to show leadership and foster debate in how we can make the most of that process,” he said.
"Our members together have an important role in creating a digitally successful, prosperous and thriving UK."
BCS has outlined several areas that the government needs to address if it is to bypass the negative effects of leaving the EU on Britain’s blooming technology sector.
The organisation has backed the building of digital skills in the UK, saying that any loss of funding provided to universities through the EU will have to be replaced from other sources, and that the nation must still able to participate in European research projects and funding.
The UK also needs to continue participating in the creation of future technology standards, such as for 5G, and attract technology talent from around the globe even if the freedom of movement of labour is removed.
BCS is taking a proactive role in tackling some of these areas by working closely with government research funding councils and Whitehall to ensure that investment in computing and IT subjects, and research at the nation’s universities, are not stymied by the Brexit.
However, the organisation also highlighted a significant need to address concerns about data regulations, which have been dictated by the European Parliament.
Also important is seeing that the UK remains an attractive place for major technology companies and startups, and assessing the impact of leaving the EU on trade relationships with Europe.
The government has yet to enact Article 50, which informs the EU of Britain’s intention to leave the union within two years.
The turmoil of prime minister David Cameron's resignation has created further uncertainty about how Britain will enact the Brexit, and there is scepticism about whether clashing politicians can get Article 50 invoked.
Our view is that the Brexit will certainly challenge the UK’s technology industry. But if BCS, major firms and industry bodies get ahead of the predicted impact, perhaps the more severe ramifications can be negated.
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