Does the jobcentre 3 month rule deplete UK IT skills?

I have been talking to lots of IT professionals lately because I have been looking at the impact of IT offshoring on UK workers.

As a result I am putting together an article about the UK jobcentre system and how it caters for IT professionals.

One of the recurring themes of my interviews, with IT workers that have been made redundant as part of an offshoring IT agreement, is they find Jobcentres disappointing.

But possibly the biggest problem is after three months jobseekers are expected to broaden their searches. This is difficult for specialist IT professionals and jobcentre staff don’t seem to understand that IT is an umbrella tern more a plethora of different roles.

The chain of events will begin with a specialist IT worker losing his or her job. They will have already trained an offshore replacement. After three months looking for work they are forced to broaden their search. They eventually get another job in IT but it is a completely different role.

If you repeat this, thousands of times, you lose the onshore skills and then there is no choice for businesses and government.

The skills will be lost forever.

So is the three month rule to broaden job searches appropriate in the IT sector? Three months is not a long time during a deep recession. When demand for the lost skills rises there will be a massive onshore skills shortage and UK organisations will depend on offshore suppliers.

Although this need not be a negative thing it does pass control of destiny over to suppliers. Imagine a few years down the line, a supplier could double its prices. This is unlikely but possible.

Do UK IT workers made redundant need more support potentially for longer?

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On a related, but slightly different, tack, I had a very interesting chat last week in Bangalore with the CEO of one of India's leading IT companies. He says that he is actually looking for suitably qualified IT workers in the UK to join his company. He states that, for all the talk about Intra-Company Transfers (ICT), companies like his would much prefer to employ local IT staff. The main reasons are that there are a limited number of India-based IT workers who actually want to come to the UK under ICT and the catchment group is in the age range 24-28, so is by definition quite limited. As he has to pay his Indian staff approximately the same as equivalently qualified UK workers, it would be far less disruptive to employ UK IT staff. He asks: where are they and how do I get to know about them? He raised this issue with Lord Mandelson recently. Perhaps our Job Centres should send lists of UK IT workers to the Indian IT companies and between them and the IT consultants bodies set up a proper work exchange?

I know UK IT workers who have work for, have worked for or have applied to work for the big Indian IT companies in the UK.

A few have had ok experiences, but most have found it a nightmare. I have been told that bullying, lying and racism is common. There is an expectation that workers should pay their own expenses as the UK going rate they pay ICTs includes expenses.

One person is even taking their Indian employer to an employment tribunal with a group of colleagues. Apparently this is not uncommon, but after threats from expensive lawyers they employer usually backs down and silence is bought.

It sounds like lying propaganda that there is a problem finding Indian IT workers willing to work here. More than half the employees of the big Indian IT companies fall into the age group suggested and the chance to work in the US and Europe is still the biggest attraction for Indian IT workers.

There are changes coming that are making Indian IT companies change their behaviour. The threat of the 50-50 rule in the US is leading to more US hires. The change to ICT rules here that will mean it does not automatically lead to indefinite leave to remain is having some affect e.g. a move to using tier 2 general visas.