The UK electronics industry’s main concerns for doing business post-Brexit are continued free trade with Europe, access to skilled workers and collaboration on R&D with European Union companies, according to a survey by UK trade body the National Microelectronics Institute (NMI).
A small survey intended to provide a snapshot of NMI members’ key Brexit-related concerns revealed that 74% of respondents were worried about future lack of access to the European Union’s free trade market. Asked for comments on these concerns, many cited the potential for new customs and trade tariffs, as well as associated increases in red tape and paperwork for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Next on the list of NMI members’ concerns was recruitment, with 65% of respondents concerned about reduced access to the EU’s pool of skills and labor. The NMI’s Chief Executive Derek Boyd points out that many of the UK’s leading electronics companies employ a wide variety of nationalities from the EU and beyond. The industry desperately needs the freedom to continue to recruit “from wherever talented people exist,” he says.
Recruitment concerns were closely followed by fears about collaboration on R&D with EU companies and access to EU funding.
“Losing access to those would be a blow for the industry,” Boyd says. “UK universities are one of the biggest recipients of [EU] Horizon 2020 grants. But it isn’t just about grants and funding — smaller UK companies may lose the opportunity to collaborate on R&D with the big players in the EU.”
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