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UKFT x BFC Industry Government Forum: Talent & IP


UKFT and the British Fashion Council (BFC) hosted the second industry government forum for the fashion and textile industry to update on Talent and Intellectual Property on 19 April. UKFT’s CEO Adam Mansell and BFC’s CEO Caroline Rush were joined by Sally Britton, Partner at Mishcon de Reya.

It is essential the fashion and textiles industries can support, source, train, retain and move talent and workers. Brexit has caused significant issues, and fears over the loss of a generation of talent due to COVID is further compounded by the changes to arts education.

Key Updates and Policy Asks:

Skilled Workers/SOL: There is a talent and skills shortage in manufacturing, particularly in certain technical areas, and as a result of Brexit, there is greater emphasis on the issue with the new skilled worker immigration policy in the UK. Both UKFT and BFC continue to ask for these roles to be added to the Shortage of Occupation List, with UKFT leading on development of home-grown talent through better vocational education.

Education & Skills: UKFT and BFC work with employers, training providers, universities, and other stakeholders to raise the skills and productivity of the people from diverse backgrounds who work in our sector to the highest level, ensuring the UK fashion and textile industry remains competitive against global competition. UKFT has developed 14 new apprenticeships for the sector and have recently launched a three-year school engagement campaign to encourage new entrants to the sector.

Movement of Creatives: We continue to push for quarantine exemptions as we now prepare to come out of pandemic restrictions. Outward mobility of creatives to the EU remains a critical issue post-Brexit and we are working alongside other Creative Industries to ensure creatives have easy and affordable access to EU member states for paid engagements. We are sharing this work with the Camera Della Moda Italiana to ask the Italian Government to support the access of UK models and freelancers to Italy. We will do the same with other EU member states over the next few weeks.

Visas in EU: As part of the UK-EU TCA, there are 11 activities that are permitted to be carried out by short-term business visitors without the need for a work permit, including business meetings, Trade Fairs, selling and buying. However, visas are needed for anyone undertaking a paid activity in the EU regardless of their role or sector. To further complicate this, this will vary by EU Member States as some allow permitted activities without the need for a visa as part of their domestic immigration regimes. These issues are being raised very vocally across the creative industries with calls for support to understand requirements, funds to support costs and a continued call to gain reciprocal agreements with EU countries to ensure creatives and freelancers are able to access EU market multiple times. The BFC is part of the DCMS Touring Working Group. The BFC recently co-signed an open letter to the Prime Minister on the matter.

Intellectual Property: Protection of Intellectual Property is a key issue for the fashion and textiles industry, which relies on creativity, design and brands. The industry relied on Unregistered Community Designs, however this wasn’t recognised as part of the withdrawal agreement. We are asking the UK Government to Commit to a UK review on simultaneous disclosure to replace Unregistered Design Rights on a timeline in tune with the EU. Under “exhaustion of rights” laws, there is currently a continuity of supply of parallel imports into the UK from the EEA, without reciprocity, thereby putting UK-based agents/distributors at a disadvantage. With legal support we are addressing the disadvantage created for UK based agents and distributors through the Brexit deal. With both reciprocity of design rights and exhaustion of rights we are seeking reciprocity (as appropriate) on an international basis, with a priority on the EU given the disadvantages created through Brexit.

Recent Positive Changes to Policy from Engagement with Government
Tier 5 Models Code of Practice & ‘Stop the Clock’ Visas: The BFC secured the Tier 5 Models Code of Practice with the British Fashion Model Agents Association (BFMA), by working closely with the Home Office with the support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Continued dialogue has resulted in the change to the Immigration Rules that enables a “stop the clock” mechanism on the Tier 5 visa used by models and freelancers – this means that international talent can now come to the UK for London Fashion Week, then they can travel to outside the UK for work without that time spent counting towards the 14-day engagement rule – essentially stopping the clock on their 14 days and re-starting it when they re-enter the UK. This is hugely important to supporting the competitiveness of the UK and making the UK more accessible to international models and creative talent.

UKFT members can request a copy of the Guide to Immigration and Movement of People post-Brexit – Overview of UK Visa Options. Email info@ukft.org for details.

The next Meeting will be held on Monday 24th May 4-5pm.

Sign up for the next event here