Immigration cap 'already punishing UK studios'

Immigration cap 'already punishing UK studios'

By Rob Crossley

February 21st 2011 at 1:12PM

Jagex and The Creative Assembly rally against coalition measure

The coalition government’s immigration cap is having a demonstrably negative effect on the UK games industry, according to two major studios.

The Creative Assembly says the cap has blocked access to “fantastically talented candidates”, while Jagex says finding top talent has become harder than ever.

The interim immigration cap, which runs until April, restricts the number of skilled immigrants allowed to work in the UK.

The measure quickly proved to be controversial, with groups from numerous industries suggesting it restricts the flow of the most experienced developers.

That is a sentiment echoed by The Creative Assembly and Jagex, who both spoke in a new Develop feature on games recruitment.

“We regularly receive applications from fantastically talented candidates from around the world who are interested in building a career in the UK, but we find it very hard, and in some cases impossible, to take on the staff we’d like,” reveals said The Creative Assembly’s HR assistant Emma Cole.

“It feels as if we’re not on the same playing field as our competitors in other countries,” she added.

Peter Lovell, a talent acquisition specialist at Jagex, agrees.

“The cap on immigration has made things a little more difficult for us already as we are struggle to widen our net to attract candidates from outside of the EU,” he said.

The coalition government established the cap with a wider aim to cut immigration by tens-of-thousands each year.

The fear is that, considering the fluidity of game development projects, such a cap could leave British studios without options to employ staff at key stages.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said that an immigration cap would not affect ‘inter-company transfers’ – meaning the likes of Microsoft and Sony could still ship staff to its UK dev houses under the scheme.

Yet smaller businesses say the amendment puts them at a disadvantage against transcontinental companies.

Home Office restrictions for the UK are having a negative effect at the experienced level, which, says MPG Universal’s Krohn, means studios are unable to hire new talent wanting to move to the UK, or worse.
 
“Importantly, those experienced staff who actually started their career in the UK but who later moved abroad are now unable to relocate back to the UK, which means we are losing a great resource and our graduates could in turn benefit from their experience,” Krohn says.

Develop’s full feature on games industry recruitment includes elaboration from industry professionals across the entire talent pipeline. Go here to read more.