FIRMS in the digital technologies sector are being urged to counter the negative effect of Brexit on accessing staff with the right skills. ScotlandIS, the industry trade body, warns that with the sector already facing a skills shortage and Brexit uncertainty posing a “serious threat” for firms that rely on skilled EU nationals, businesses must address the issue

The latest ScotlandIS Brexit Briefing, produced in association with Scotland’s largest law firm Brodies LLP, focuses on the rights of non-UK EU nationals and recommends that firms take steps to support employees wanting to protect their residency rights post-Brexit. It found that 75 per cent of members surveyed following the 2016 referendum said Brexit would have a negative or very negative impact on their access to staff with the right skills.

Scotland’s software and IT businesses alone employed 4,000 non-UK EU nationals in 2015, accounting for 11.5 per cent of employees, according to the Scottish Government. The digital technologies industry north of the Border contributes £5 billion in GVA per annum and employs about 91,000 people.

Lynne Marr, a partner at Brodies, said: “No immigration procedures have been necessary for most EU nationals so far – other than the usual right to work checks carried out for all employees at the start of employment – and that means many employers do not have this information to hand.”

“Employers will need this information to assess the potential impact on their business if non-UK EU nationals among their staff leave the country post-Brexit or if additional immigration controls make them more difficult to employ in the future.”

Meanwhile, a new skills and recruitment survey from Technology Scotland has revealed that 87 per cent of participants believe the Scottish technology sector remains an attractive place to do business and 89 per cent do not typically have problems retaining staff. But 61 per cent have experienced at least one skills shortage vacancy in the last 12 months which has remained open for over three months.