IT Intra Company Transfers (ICTs) still dominate immigrant workforce in UK

It has been a while since I have written about Intra Company Transfers (ICTs) and their impact on UK IT professionals. ICTs are used as a loophole to bring workers to the UK without a visa, if a company has a UK operation.

It is a method used by many offshore IT suppliers to bring lower cost about to the UK to work on projects. It is one of the reasons why companies, such as the Indian IT service providers, can be very aggressive on price and win so many deals.

The latest figures for the period 06 April 2011 and 28 February 2012 show that IT immigrants dominate.

The top 10 occupations accounted for 15,055 immigrants out of a total 23,952 immigrant workers in the UK.

Four IT categories featured in the top ten occupations. These were: programmers and software development professionals; Information technology and telecommunications professionals; IT business analysts, architects and systems designers; and IT specialist managers. These four accounted for 8,024 ICTs out of a total 11,684 in the top ten occupations. The largest group by far with 4,342 was programmers and software development professionals.

To put this into perspective there were only 757 medical practitioners, 905 charted and certified accountants and 904 sales accounts and business development managers permitted entry.
The Migration Advisory Committee is currently looking at the level to set the minimum salary for workers that come in to do certain jobs. In the IT sector many believe the minimum pay threshold is set far too low and makes it difficult for UK IT professionals to compete with offshore workers. A source told me they are considering lowering the threshold.


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"A source told me they are considering lowering the threshold."

I give up. The IT industry in this country is doomed.

For decades, we have refused to invest in training and retaining our existing skilled UK-based IT workers, and companies fire them by the thousand to replace them with cheap inexperienced imports or offshore workers wherever possible. Then we refuse to hire those skilled UK-based IT workers elsewhere because now their skills are "obsolete" i.e. lacking the latest buzzwords, or they're too old/expensive i.e. they can't support a family and pay UK taxes/pension/housing costs etc on a Mumbai salary + tax-free ICT expenses. We also refuse to hire UK-based IT graduates because they don't have the latest buzzwords on their CVs either (because nobody's ever given them a chance to acquire those buzzwords) and even a UK graduate trainee (burdened with massive college debts) will struggle to compete on cost with the ICT graduate trainees. Then, having systematically eliminated most of the ways in which UK-based IT workers can find work, stay in work and continue to develop their skills at work, we complain about the "IT skills shortage" and use it to justify yet more cheap imports. Repeat ad nauseam, or at least until the UK is so dependent on cheap foreign IT labour that we are no longer capable of maintaining or developing our own IT infrastructure, just like RBS.

I need to emigrate, and I would strongly advise any young person considering a career in IT (i.e. one that might last past their 30th birthday) to do likewise. The UK simply does not want to invest in maintaining and developing its own IT industry any more, whatever hype gets spouted by politicians and their corporate masters.

So you advise to emigrate blaming the immigrants for your condition. What will you call yourself then? Cheap inexperienced import?

Last time I worked abroad I was hired because of my experience, and I was paid the same as my local colleagues because I was doing the same job, and I paid the same taxes etc as they did too.

But if you are working in the UK temporarily on a low rate via the ICT scheme, you are not contributing to the UK economy but you are contributing to the loss of opportunities for UK-based IT workers at all levels, from new graduates to experienced professionals. If you are good enough to get a job in the UK on the same salary and paying the same taxes as a UK based worker, then you should do so and there would be no problem: let the best man/woman win. But the abuse of the ICT scheme as a source of cheap inexperienced labour, and the wholesale offshoring of UK based jobs - even where it has disastrous consequences as in the RBS case - is killing the UK IT industry.

I do not blame individual migrant workers for this, but I do blame the bloated consultancies and glorified gang-masters who import cheap graduates from India on revolving door short-term ICT permits while firing their UK based staff and refusing to invest in the next generation of UK based IT workers.

100% agreement with Matt X: "If you are good enough to get a job in the UK on the same salary and paying the same taxes as a UK based worker, then you should do so...".

Beats me why UK companies haven't worked out that it takes 3-4 Indian low skilled imports to do the job of 1 skilled UK resource. Clearly they are not 'good enough".

In the 'bloated consultancy' for whom I work, the cost of an import is a little over a third of the cost of the cost of a supposedly equivalent UK resource.

But an unbelievably high number of imports appear to be required to deliver the required services. So the customer of said 'bloated consultancy' ends up paying more - and not just in terms of salary costs. Office space is expensive. Go figure.

@Helz X.

"But an unbelievably high number of imports appear to be required to deliver the required services."

Yes, but after a couple of trips around the ICT revolving door, they will be promoted to "senior developer" or "designer" or "architect", on the basis of their alleged experience. Now they can be charged out at even more exorbitant rates to the end client, thus increasing the already fat profit margin of the bloated consultancy. And of course their services can also be sold as "experienced developers/designers/architects" on offshore projects, again at a healthy margin for the consultancy.