Immigration cap policy does no favours for UK IT professionals

So after all the controversy and fuss and expectation created by the Tory promise of an immigration cap, now the government has announced the plan it is back to business as usual for UK IT professionals. The cap does nothing to help encourage more people to work in IT, nor to persuade employers to recruit more young people in IT roles.

Don’t get me wrong – I have absolutely nothing against the Indian IT providers who have been so successful and brought so much to the IT industry – I’ve always been a strong supporter of them, I’ve been to India to see them in action, and there is a lot we can learn from their professionalism, quality and overall business approach. They are every bit as entitled to bid for work in the UK and to deliver it using their strength of low-cost offshore resources as any other firm from any other nation or sector.

But there is plenty of business to go around, and plenty of opportunity for job creation in UK IT that doesn’t restrict the sales potential for offshore providers. Unfortunately, the balance at the moment too often swings too far away from job creation. India has lobbied David Cameron with great success.

There are 90,000 advertised job vacancies for UK IT professionals at the moment. There will be even more jobs created in the coming years as IT expands, both in suppliers and in IT departments. But the decision to exempt intra-company transfers above a £40,000 salary threshold from the immigration cap – and especially Tory immigration minister Damian Green’s advice on how to get around the cap by bringing in staff for less than a year at a time – does no favours for those who hoped to see more government encouragement to recruit, develop and train young people into IT.

I won’t rehash the arguments about how poor UK IT is in bringing young people into the fold – you can read the blog post I wrote about it here.

But it is clear that many IT employers will continue to opt for low-cost offshore resources instead of the longer-term commitment needed to develop their own IT staff.

The government has rightly identified IT as one of the engines of economic recovery and job creation. The new immigration cap policy does nothing to help UK IT professionals meet that challenge.