Both industries are suffering from the cap on immigration imposed by this government, which has promised to reduce the number of migrants coming into this country. This is a self inflicted wound. To reverse it, all the government needs to do is announce that it will no longer include students in the number of immigrants it is trying to cap. Only count them as immigrants if at the end of their course they apply to stay, but as long as they are a fee paying student at an approved college of higher education, they are considered non-permanent.
Stretching the definition further, the argument needs to be made that computer scientists are so valuable – just think how much we would like a company like Facebook to spring up in this country – that software engineers with a masters or other postgraduate degree in computer science will no longer be counted in the numbers being capped until they have been here five years, on the grounds that they will doubtless get offered jobs all over the world. Simply by a Sir-Humphrey like change, the government can help business which create socially useful outcomes as well as economic activity. As an alternative to pandering to City industries and Russian oligarchs it has to be a vote winner.
Mark Needham is Chairman of Widget UK Ltd (www.widget.co.uk), a distributor of high tech consumer eletronic products