Migration Advisory Committee recommends games roles are added to UK skills shortage lists

The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee has recommended to the nation’s Government that several video games industry roles be added to an official list compiling careers in which the country sees shortages of appropriate talent.

As reported by Gamesindustry.biz, the near-400 page ‘Full review of the shortage occupation list‘ report spans all industries and roles. If the recommended games industry and related roles were added to the ‘shortage occupation lists’ (or ‘SOL’), it would be made easier for companies to hire from overseas. Equally, migration process would be somewhat relaxed for those looking to come the the UK to fill such roles.

The logic is a simple one. Industries like video games serve as a tremendous boon to the UK economy. If such industries are diminished by a lack of talent in some areas, there is a nationwide benefit in filling such roles; from abroad if needed.

“Today’s labour market is very different to the one we reviewed when the last SOL was published in 2013,” said the committee’s chair professor Alan Manning. “Unemployment is lower and employers in various industries are facing difficulties in finding skilled people to fill their vacancies.

“That is why we have recommended expanding the SOL to cover a range of occupations in health, information and engineering fields.”

Previously the SOL has included the video games industry roles ‘software developer’, ‘shader writer’ and ‘games designer’. It is now recommended, however, that across all industries ‘programmers and software development professionals’ roles are added to the SOL. Outside of the report’s ‘Digital and IT Occupations’ category, it was equally recommended that all roles that come under the broad categories ‘artists’, ‘IT business analysts, architects and system designers’, ‘web design and development professionals’ and ‘arts officers, producers and directors’ were added to the SOL. Across those categories many games development, servicing, publishing and other roles would be covered.

Under the report’s ‘arts officers, producers and directors’ category, the Committee’s notes: “Computer Games, VFX and Animation are employers of high skilled workers with technical skills and creative abilities. The rapid development in technology can cause difficulties getting workers with the skills companies need to remain competitive. Gaming has a range of SMEs who struggle to compete on salary with larger organisations and other industries that require the same skill set (e.g. the financial sector) and so often offer shares in the company as an alternative incentive.”

If those roles are added to the SOL, it may galvanise the UK games industry – and its many companies – providing the opportunity to continue to grow. How Brexit will impact things is – perhaps unsurprisingly – hard to predict.

“Our recommendations are clearly only applicable under the current immigration system, while EU free movement remains,” offered Manning. “We are recommending a full review of the SOL once there is a clearer picture of what the future immigration system will look like.”