A new report by the Space Skills Alliance for the UK Space Agency has revealed a critical skills shortage for the UK’s growing space sector.

The report revealed that 52% of organisations report skills gaps in their current workforce and of those trying to hire new staff, 83% experienced difficulties, citing the complexity and cost of the UK immigration system.

According to global immigration law firm Fragomen, the sector should tap into recently created and updated unsponsored immigration routes to attract the best global talent.

Charlotte Wills, a partner at Fragomen, explained, “The UK’s growing space industry is competing for talent globally and the Government is using the immigration system to attract the brightest and best from around the world.

“Organisations often turn to the sponsored route to enable them to hire overseas talent, but there are many non-sponsored visa routes that could be explored as part of recruitment pipelines. They are often quicker, easier and cheaper to manage, and designed to attract talented, skilled workers.

“The UK Government has recently made positive changes to various UK routes to increase flexibility, such as expanding the duration of stay permitted under the Youth Mobility visa from two to three years for certain nationalities, as well as the eligible age range. Also, starting this month, people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have that status extended by two years, if they have not already converted to Settled Status.

“There is also the High Potential Visa route, again unsponsored, that allows individuals who have graduated from the top 50 non-UK universities in the past five years to work in the UK on an employed or self-employed basis. We’ve also seen an increase in successful applications under the Graduate route, which enables people to work in the UK for at least two years after graduating from a UK institution.”

“And whilst the UK immigration system is expensive when compared to other countries, it does offer reliability and predictability. The application process is relatively straightforward and mostly managed online – if you meet the criteria, you will be granted a visa to work. These factors should be considered and included in a future Space Workforce Action Plan, along with other ways the UK’s immigration routes can continue to support this growing sector.”

A copy of the Space Sector Skills Survey 2023 report can be found here.

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter