Immigration policies need to be reviewed in order to help address the "digital skills crisis" in the UK, a government select committee has said.
The Science and Technology Committee has published a report stating that it needs to be easier for SMEs to employ people from outside the EU, while claiming that the skills gap currently costs the UK £63bn annually in lost GDP.
A key recommendation, the report said, would be to review the requirements for immigrants to get IT jobs using Tier 2 visas, which would allow SMEs to more easily employ people from abroad.
The government recently made changes to help SMEs recruit specialists from outside the EU, but the report says that the new rules exclude companies with 20 or fewer employees.
Science and technology committee chairwoman Nicola Blackwood said: "The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind.
"The government deserves credit for action taken so far but it needs to go much further and faster. We need action on visas, vocational training and putting digital skills at the heart of modern apprenticeships."
The government has added roles such as IT product manager, system engineer, data scientist and cybersecurity specialist to the Tier 2 visa "shortage occupation list", but this option is open only for qualifying businesses.
Also unable to take advantage of Tier 2 visas, along with smaller companies, are firms that are more than 25 per cent owned by a larger company and those with "significant investment" from FTSE 100 companies.
As well as pinpointed immigration restrictions, the report has called for issues at an educational level to be addressed, with the recommendation for new training opportunities.
The committee wants digital skills to be made one of the "core components" in all apprenticeships, not just digital apprenticeships.
Ross Fraser, vice president and managing director for the UK and Ireland at EMC, said that graduates are not leaving university ready to come straight into the sector.
"The UK is perceived to be leading the world in terms of the national computing curriculum and IT education in schools generally," he said.
"However, graduates still aren't arriving on the market 'business-ready' and need rapid training to make them useful and effective to the business.
"While the committee is already calling for changes, it's important for employers to work closely with the education industry; to help identify what skills are needed and where the talent gaps lie to help attune education to the industry's needs."
A report from the National Audit Office earlier this year found that the government had been able to recruit only 70 per cent of the computer science teachers that are needed in the sector, with only 35 per cent of teachers currently working in the subject having a relevant degree.
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