UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled his AI Safety Institute in November 2023 as part of his commitment to making the UK a global hub for technology. The organisation will test artificial intelligence (AI) models from leading developers before they’re unleashed on the public. While some might raise an eyebrow at a government body having the final say on what the public gets to use, it’s the best safeguard we have at this point in time.
Positioning the UK as a “global hub for AI safety” plays into a larger system of tech skills, prowess, innovation and also acceptance – as we reported in November 2023, the British public is ready to accept AI as long as businesses are open about its use . Government data shows that, in 2022, the UK had the biggest technology industry in Europe, and the third largest globally . As per the stats, UK tech companies raised £24 billion in funding, compared to £11.8 billion and £9.1 billion for companies in France and Germany, respectively. Add to this the fact there are more “high-growth companies” compared to the rest of Europe, and the data supports the idea that the UK is a tech leader.
Foreign Workers Make the Tech Industry Tick
What’s perhaps most interesting about the UK’s rise to the top of the tech tree in Europe is that growth has only been possible because of help from Europe and the rest of the world. Specifically, the UK has become a preferred destination for tech workers. Research from Tech Nation shows that 54,000 international tech workers applied for a UK visa in 2022. That’s 13,000 more than 2021.
Smoothing the path for foreign workers wanting a UK visa are qualified immigration lawyers. Tech-focused companies such as Samsung, Automation Logic and SecGate have enlisted the services of immigration lawyers from London-based firm Reiss Edwards. Firms such as Reiss Edwards help companies untangle the red tape within the visa system. To the UK government’s credit, the skilled worker visa has been improved. Since changes were made in 2023, entry requirements have been lowered to allow more people to obtain a skilled worker visa. What remains a challenge, however, is the application process.
A Steady Influx of International Talent is Crucial
Tech companies big and small not only need staff with enough capacity to complete the necessary paperwork, they need the requisite knowledge. That’s where immigration lawyers have proved useful. They can help with the application process but, crucially, provide invaluable information on what companies must do if they want to employ foreign workers. As we’ve seen in other industries – like the UK’s hospitality sector – a steady influx of international talent is vital.
Therefore, if the UK is going to retain its position as a global tech hub, it needs an international workforce. Tech CEOs must be willing to make their companies appealing to foreign workers and, moreover, enlist the services of experts to facilitate the recruitment process. Rishi Sunak’s vision for the future of AI is a bold one but, as the data shows, the UK is well-placed to turn this vision into a reality.