DWP IT project needs immigrants but government doesn't

Interesting story about the DWP’s Universal Credit IT project today.

The IT project underpinning the Universal Credit is troubled to say the least. The government made a fanfare of how it was to digital and agile methods to develop the system.

But it seems the government’s decision to reduce immigration is harming its ability to do the project due to a skills shortage.

Years of outsourcing has left the DWP short of in-house skills. Now with demand up across business and government sectors, salaries for people with these skills have gone up.

“There are, simply, more jobs available in digital and software development than people to do them,” Harry Gooding, head of client engagement at recruitment consultancy Mortimer Spinks, told Computer Weekly.

“As a result, the average permanent salary has gone from £44,000 per annum to £52,000 – this is quite simply a supply and demand thing.”

The government’s immigration policy is magnifying this.

“David Cameron’s immigration policies mean we are no longer getting the same wave of immigrants coming to do the IT jobs we have available. It used to be that a third to a half of all the jobs we recruited were filled by English-speaking people from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa who were excellent developers. There is no longer the same incentive for them to fight their way into this country – which is what it now takes – and work here,” Spinks told Computer weekly.

“Meanwhile, there are very few people coming out of our education systems suitable qualifications, but there is a huge influx of technology businesses looking for those skills.”

Well the government could always outsource the project to a global IT service provider who could bring in staff from any of its locations across the world without the need for a visa, using Intra Company Transfers (ICTs). That would be interesting if the government used this loophole to get around its own policy. Not likely given the fact that the government wants to use IT services firms as little as possible on this project.

Through controversial ICTs IT service providers can bring staff to the UK from any of its overseas locations.

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