Headstrong: Pulling out of the EU would be bad for UK studios

Headstrong: Pulling out of the EU would be bad for UK studios
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

July 17th 2013 at 11:25AM

Skills shortage has left studios will no option but to hire for specialists from abroad

Pulling out of the European Union would be damaging for the UK games industry, one of the producers at a long-running UK outfit has claimed.

Headstong Games executive producer Brynley Gibson told Develop that if David Cameron’s coalition government was to retreat from Europe, the UK’s own talent pool is currently in no position to fill the critical specialist roles that the industry needs.

“If we couldn’t hire freely from Europe we would be struggling to hire the staff we need to complete our current projects to the standard they need to attain,” Gibson told Develop.

“There is not a lack of candidates out there, but there is a lack in the quality of candidates and, of course, every developer wants to take only the best they can.”

Cameron has hinted at referendum on Europe and it this that concerns Gibson.

“With Cameron promising a referendum on Europe in the next parliament and UKIP [UK Independence Party] on an undeniable upturn, there is a threat, however slight. Restrictions wouldn’t just be damaging for the games industry, but for any skilled employer in the UK.”

Hiring new staff from aboard is not a straightforward process, so when studios do so they have often exhausted every other possible recruitment option.

In 2011, a report by the Migration Advisory Committee identified that UK businesses in the games sector should seek skilled migrant workers in order to fill the gap left by the UK’s gaping skills shortage.

When asked about the UK’s hiring situation in regards to immigration, UKIE CEO Jo Twist said: “To truly reach its full potential, the UK games industry needs more home-grown talent and an immigration system that welcomes the very best people from overseas.

“We also need to have an immigration system that allows the best overseas talent easy access to this country.”

Develop spoke to a number of games industry professionals to hear their thoughts on immigration. Read more in our look at the state of UK immigration and how it compares to nations overseas.