Mixed reaction over government immigration caps

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Now that the government has began its strategy to reduce the number of non EU workers on visas in the UK the debate in the IT sector can begin.

In an effort to get a debate going here are the views of various people I have spoken to over recent months but what do you think?

1  - A senior IT professional at a large UK company from overseas: "Cameron will now go ahead with his plans to put a cap on immigration, but I'm not intimidated. There are many immigrants in my department and even though we are paid less money, we bring a significant contribution. Speaking for myself, I am a lot more skilled and produce a lot more compared to colleagues of about the same age."

2 - Mark Lewis, partner and head of outsourcing at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner said there needs to be a limit on the numbers of migrant workers but warns that the cap should not be set too low.  "I see no reason to have a totally open-ended number of IT visas granted every year. Limiting the number at a sensible level for UK businesses is fine. But the government would be crazy to restrict the inflow of highly skilled migrants."

3 - Peter Skyte, National Officer at union Unite said there is a need for balanced rules that do not damage UK businesses and do not disadvantage UK workers.  "The points-based migration system and in particular use of the Intra-Company Transfer route in the IT sector is open to misuse or abuse by employers with the potential to undercut pay rates and displace skilled resident workers as currently operated."

4 - Bob McDowall, analyst at Towergroup  said if the government tightens the scheme, big businesses will have challenges resourcing for IT.  "This will be especially the case in the financial services sector."

5 - A campaigner against the alledged abuse of the Intra Company transfer system: "The use of the ICT system to bring in large numbers of IT workers to work at third-party client sites is purely about paying less for foreign workers who are tied to their sponsors and avoiding taxes. The workers need more protection to ensure they are not underpaid and discriminated against. And permanent migrants, residents and UK businesses need a level playing field to compete against companies that take advantage of lax rules around intra-company transfers,"

6 - Ann Swain, CEO at Apsco, said there was nothing wrong with the current system but it was being abused. "There seems to be no appetite to police it."

7 - An IT contractor: "UK contractors have been cut at one company he worked at and permanent staff have to train their Indian replacements, who will eventually take the permanent staff jobs as well."

8 - John Brazier, managing director of the Professional Contractors Group (PCG): "While intra-company transfer permits clearly have a value, their abuse and overuse is damaging. I hope the annual cap proposed by the Conservatives would be extended to intra-company transfer permits as a way of dealing with the displacement that has affected many contractors."

 

10 Comments

Intra company transfer should be controlled, but can not stop completely. Close monitoring is needed about the living conditions, payment received etc of the transferred employee. I know, from my such colleagues, that the difficulties in keeping the family along with them. The companies generally does not give proper care on the employee like very short notice for transfer, less pay, bad living conditions. Need to address all those, otherwise nobody in the whole system will be benefited, except a few top layer employees.

our IT department was outsourced a few months ago, people were asked to train Indian's to do their jobs they all refused and left, the service now is appalling, the company hired - TATA, don't seem to have a clue as what they are doing, we've had so many outages.

The company I work for has decided to off-shore much of the IT development. The life cycle was as follows. The Indian off-shore company sent 2 of their best guys over to impress the executives (who are typically IT illiterate). These guys knew their stuff and were very good. After the off-shore company secured the contract they appeared to fill the back office with "school boys" with very little experience or knowledge. The net result was that projects now take 4 times as long as before as specs have to be much more detailed, often work has to be repeated. The hourly rate as halved but the total hours have quadrupled. Meanwhile the local colleges are producing unemployed IT and business graduates who could be rapidly trained to do the same work. The government needs to get a grip on the situation especially as unemployment may be heading past 3 million with the cuts in public spending.

There is a growing culture among IT Bosses/Decision makers: In the name of cost saving - they outsource the IT service. Bag the bonus as a result of so-called cost-saving, and move on to next job. They don't care the aftermaths of outsourcing. Business users, Business, and Local IT employees suffer. Until this trend is stopped by showing that there is no cost-saving as such and outsourcing is just a gimick for CIO to earn quick bonuses and move on (Just like bankers!) - this ICT/Visa/HSMP schemes will continue, Because IT bosses are instrumental in influencing government in creating such schemes for their own benifits.

I agree with this view completely - most of the executives in my company are essentially short term "Carpet Baggers". There are here today gone tomorrow along with their bonuses!

If ICT staff are so skilled, enforce a minimum 50-60k UK wage to bring someone over, taxed in the UK with accommodation and allowances also taxed as "benefits in kind" (Come on, we're always being told offshore staff are more skilled, better educated and better English speakers than UK staff by NASSCOM and the like so they obviously deserve a high salary).

That takes care of them caring for their families, and also pays for their impact on UK services, surely?

Bob is right the minimum salary for ICTs should be raised to ensure it is only used for people who report directly to the board or have skills that are so uncommon and essential that the business would fail without them. This is the commitment the UK has made in trade agreements.

As an IT consultant working in the London Market/General Insurance sector for the past 8 years, I have seen each of the client sites where I worked engaging Indian out-sourcing companies to replace both their IT contractors and permanent IT staff also. This extended to their IT helpdesk, developers, test team, business analysts etc. There is no shortage of skilled UK workers to fulfill these roles, but the companies have carte blanche to get in cheap Indian labour to undercut them, while the government knowingly turns it's 'Nelson's Eye to the telescope' and pretends to support freelancers. I'm afraid this is going to get worse before it gets better...

@Ian: " I'm afraid this is going to get worse before it gets better..."

It's not going to get better. Every job offshored or filled with an Imported Computing Trainee is one less opportunity for UK-based IT workers to maintain/develop their skills and experience. As UK-based IT workers fall increasingly behind and are forced to drop out of the industry, the self-fulfilling prophecy of the "skills shortage" will come true, and it will no longer be possible to re-generate the UK-based IT industry. How many UK-based coalminers or shipbuilders do you know with recent experience? IT is going the same way as coal, steel, ship-building etc went in the 1980s.

@Matt - true and it will be goodbye computerweekly.co.uk and hello computerweekly.co.in.

It is not just UK IT professionals and graduates that suffer, but all the jobs, industries, services etc that surround them. HR departments will shrink, less managers will be needed, less agencies for permanent and contract jobs, less profits for jobsites, less accountants for contractors etc.

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This page contains a single entry by Karl Flinders published on June 29, 2010 2:15 PM.

Is the government throwing the IT baby out with the bath water? was the previous entry in this blog.

Indian professional group opposes UK immigration cap is the next entry in this blog.

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