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Brexit and the IT Industry

The Brexit repercussions from the Brexit vote–the vote on whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union or not are not over.  The vote was brought about by people who supported remaining in the EU who wanted to put the matter to bed once and for all, assuming that vote would be to remain a member of the EU. For many, at least at the time the idea for the vote was initiated, it was expected that the majority of British citizens would vote to remain in the EU.

The matter was indeed put to bed, but probably not the way many people around the globe expected.  Britain will not remain a part of the EU.  The results of this vote will give it greater independence in saying who can enter the country, and making their own trade deals, but with that independence, there is also uncertainty.  A part of the uncertainty comes from technology within the UK, and how many of those companies deal with foreign governments—in and out of the EU.

Impact in Financial Services Industry

At the time of the Brexit vote, there are 160,000 French people alone who work in the financial industry in London.  Because technology has such a huge role in finance in today’s world, the vote to leave the EU will certainly have some impact on financial markets, especially if Britain does make it more difficult to enter and exit its borders.

Now there could be a shortage of skilled workers to take those jobs.  Since Britain is no longer a part of the EU, its borders are no longer as open for workers moving from one company to another.

Shortage of Workers

One disadvantage many tech-based companies face is a shortage of IT professionals within Britain.  These companies were able to take advantage of the relatively easy travel within European Union countries to get the skilled professionals they needed. 

In addition to losing access to many of the workers they have come to rely on in computing and other technological professions, Britain will lose access to a new European cloud that is in development. In Europe, there are 1.7 million researchers and 70 million professionals working science and technology.  The European cloud gives the professionals a place to put research data.  They will be able to use this cloud to store, manage, and analyze research data. 

The European cloud will also allow data to be reused, and there has been a large investment in digital innovation hubs where businesses will be able to seek advice from professionals, and where they will be able to test their strategies.  It is unclear what will happen to Brittan’s IT and science industries if they lose access to the opportunities that this cloud might provide them.

Meanwhile, Britain is still considered by many to be the leader in developing IT solutions in Europe, but companies were sometimes able to make investments into IT solutions stretch farther be being part of the EU.  Now that partnership has ended.  The question some members of the tech industry in Britain wonder is if the country can afford to make up the difference in investment. 

How the Brexit Could Affect the United States

Good news for the United States and for its economy in that even though Great Britain is a valuable ally, it receives a small part of total exports from the United States, and we receive a small percentage of imports from Great Britain. Even though Great Britain is the sixth largest trading partner, the other five are more important, and a big change in internal politics and economics in Britain should not mean there will be a major impact on the United States.

Just like in London, there will also be issues with technology laws and privacy.  The EU had privacy laws that satisfied the United States.  Information in Britain will no longer be protected by those same laws.  If Britain still wants to handle information and to do business with the United States, they will have to submit their own privacy policies and have them approved by the United States for business to continue between the two nations. 

There are also several technology companies that are owned by people in the United States, and their European base of operations has been in the United Kingdom.  Since Britain has voted to leave the EU, these companies will have to determine how to create policies and to ensure they will be in compliance with the UK and with the EU.  These companies will probably still remain based in Britain, but now they may face expense to ensure they are satisfying another set of rules.

Another factor that could affect the United States is those companies that have a base in England probably also rely on natives of other companies to operate their technology.  With an expected outcome of the Brexit being a more restricted amount of traveling into Great Britain, those United States companies face having fewer skilled workers at their disposal.

It is important for the United States to remember that there will be changes to the trade partnership since Britain is no longer a part of the EU.  However, we will continue to be important allies to each other as we move forward.