The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended a number of game industry jobs be added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
Consequently, the SOL – which is used to prioritise visa applications from candidates with expertise in a number of specialist roles reported to be in high demand in the UK – has recently been updated to reflect shortages found across many creative industries, including roles commonly needed in the video games sector.
“A large proportion of the job titles requesting to be put on the SOL for the Creative Industries are those which require STEM skills, for example within video gaming, VFX, and animation,” the report stated. “Companies have to compete for high skilled roles which require IT skills with other higher paying industries, for example the financial sector.
“The rapid development in technology can cause difficulties getting workers with the skills companies need to remain competitive,” the report added.
“Gaming has a range of SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] who struggle to compete on salary with larger organisations and other industries that require the same skill set (e.g. the financial sector) and so often offers shares in the company as an alternative incentive.”
The review concluded that all jobs categorised under “IT business analysts, architects and system designers”, as well as roles such as programmers, artists, producers, and directors, should be prioritised.
The Migration Advisory Committee also reported that while “there are initiatives to tackle this”, the UK video games industry “sits well below the average for gender and BAME representation”, as well as noting that the digital skills gap “is larger in the UK than anywhere else in Europe”.
In a statement on its official website, Ukie – the only trade body for the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry – said it welcomed the recommendations of the MAC, reporting 63 per cent of the roles it suggested for inclusion by the industry were rolled into the code changes made by MAC.
“One of the reasons why the UK is the best place to make games in the world is its ability to welcome the best and brightest into this country to support our thriving industry,” Ukie said.
“The expansion of the Shortage Occupation List to include a significant number of industry specific roles is a great first step to maintaining that position, whatever the future holds for the country’s immigration policy.”