The number of non-EU IT professionals coming to the UK to fill skills shortages is up by a half since 2012, official data indicates.
Some 36,015 non-EU IT professionals entered the UK last year, up from 23,960 in 2012.
That's according to data obtained from the Home Office by SJD Accountancy, which warned that the UK is becoming increasingly reliant on overseas talent to bridge the skills gap, even as the country prepares to leave the EU.
This is the fifth straight year the number of work permits issued to non-EU IT professionals has risen, and represents the highest level since 2008, when 35,430 were handed out, SJD found.
The most in-demand roles include IT business analysts, architects and systems designers, web design and development specialists, according to the findings.
The UK will become more reliant on non-EU IT professionals unless it can boost the number of computer science and ICT apprenticeships, argued SJD, which specialises in providing services to contractors and freelancers.
Undergraduate and postgraduate computer science degree levels have fallen 14 per cent to 21,250 since 2011/12 and ICT apprenticeships - although on the rise now - have also slipped 13.5 per cent to 16,020 since 2011/12, the firm said.
SJD Accountancy CEO Derek Kelly said: "Despite attempts to rectify the UK's historic underproduction of IT skills, we are more reliant on foreign talent than we were before the recession. These numbers show that the expansion of the UK tech sector is at risk if we are unable to keep up with demand for IT skills. Skill shortages can delay projects and push up costs for businesses."
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