Ed Miliband appoints Maggie Philbin to address UK skills shortage

Ed Miliband is going for the celebrity point scoring with the announcement of Maggie Philbin to head of a task force to look at ways of addressing the UK IT skills shortage.

I remember Philbin from Tomorrow’s World and I think she is great, but I don’t see what the task force can reveal that has not already been revealed. Miliband has said himself that too many jobs are being outsourced to non UK workers. If you ask most IT professionals they say the same thing. So what is left for the taskforce to discover?

The use of visas and Intra Company Transfers enable offshore IT companies to bring staff to the UK to carry out roles within customer businesses. These roles are usually entry level and as a result they stop UK IT professionals getting on the first rung of the job ladder, which leads to a skills shortage further down the line.

And the only way to address this is to introduce legislation that stops businesses from having IT jobs done by non-UK workers. But when big business wants low cost services it gets what it wants. Like the current coalition Labour is beginning to pay lip service to controversial issues.

The Tories did the same thing by putting a cap on the number of visas granted to businesses. Although it did not include Intra Company Transfers and therefore did little to stop jobs being done by offshore staff onshore, this kind of policy is popular with voters, particularly those inclined to read the Daily Mail.

Let’s face it the Coalition doesn’t want to piss India off. 1.2 billion people are a lot of potential customers. And when Labour get back into power they won’t want to piss India off.

So unless Maggie Philbin can write official Labour immigration policy I don’t understand what she will do.

Miliband also reaffirmed his idea of making businesses create a UK apprenticeship for every job carried out by a non EU citizen. I am not sure if this would be workable in the real world and like the Tories promise to cap visas it will probably not include Intra Company Transfers.