Immigration cap a nonsensical political gesture, says APSCo

I have been writing so much recently about the alleged damage offshoring is doing to the UK IT profession. I thought I would put out the Association of Professional Staffing Companies’ (APSCo) latest comment on the immigration cap to get a discussion going.


The government realised, before it was elected, that the immigration of skilled workers to the UK was a political hot potato. It also realised that if it promised to reduce the number of non EU workers entering the UK most voters would be happy. So the Tories promised a cap. This got a mixed response at the time from the IT industry but the public were in general up for it.


APSCo like many was against the idea of a cap in principle.  Ann Swain, CEO at Apsco, told me at the time that there was nothing wrong with the current system but it was being abused.


She was unhappy that companies, mainly Indian IT suppliers, were abusing the Intra Company Transfer (ICT) rule. ICTs allow companies to bring in foreign staff if they have operations in the UK. But it was really designed to allow large companies bring in senior staff, not low paid workers.


Because ICTs do not require a work permit they are not included in the government cap. About 80% of immigrant workers are in on ICTs with thousands IT workers from India. According to Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch, while speaking at a recent Home Affairs Select Committee which discussed immigration the use of Intra Company Transfers (ICTs) to bring in workers from overseas is a major cause of the high rate of unemployment amongst computer science graduates, which is 17% for those that graduated last year.


APSCo is calling on the government to include ICTs, within the immigration cap, says.


Ann Swain says the cap in its current form is nonsensical because it excludes ICTs. “The Government is determined to push ahead with a cap, but if intra-company transfers are excluded, it’s largely a political gesture that will do little to restrict the influx of non-EU IT workers to the UK.”


“We urge the Government to include intra-company transfers within the cap. A reduction in the number of intra-company transfers would be compensated for by increased employment within the existing pool of resident IT professionals.”


“Most workers coming to the UK on intra-company transfers have generic skill sets that are readily available in this country. We are certain that a large proportion of these roles, if advertised at UK market rates, could be filled by the resident labour market.”


She adds: “A cap is a blunt instrument that would struggle to provide the flexibility that UK plc needs. How would employers access specialist skills once the immigration limit had been reached?”


Here his comment made on this blog by IT workers BobF who is disillusioned with the increased offshoring of UK jobs.

“From the responses and back pedalling we have seen in recent weeks on the ICT immigration cap I have come to the conclusion that it’s all over for UK IT staff, unless maybe you desire a career in management.

My advice is to retrain to another type of work, preferably one which is not susceptible to outsourcing or on-shoring, or failing that emigrate.

When I think of the IT industry we had in the 80’s, and what we could have become I feel deep sadness.

Like so many other Industries and developments within the UK, an opportunity wasted in the name of short term profit.”

Not many positives there.

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

I'm with both Ann Swain and BobF on this. Swain is right that the real problem is the gross abuse of the ICT back-door, which means that thousands of largely inexperienced and relatively unskilled IT workers have been imported into the UK, not to address any "skills crisis", but because they are cheap labour. These staff have replaced many skilled and experienced UK-based staff, who cannot live on a Mumbai salary plus tax-free subsistence allowance, because they have to pay UK living costs and taxes. UK based staff can compete against skilled immigrants paid a UK salary, but we can't compete with cheap ICT cannon fodder on taxpayer-subsidised subsistence wages.

Meanwhile, I can't remember when I last met a young UK IT worker, as most junior roles seem to be filled with imported computer trainees, training them up to return and become the basis of the offshore IT industry. So BobF is right: there is no future in IT in the UK, whether for skilled and experienced staff or for new entrants to the profession. Like steel and coal, IT is becoming something Britain doesn't do any more.

The government is investigating ICT - if your MP is a part of the Home Affairs Select Committee who are investigating immigration then you should phone up and demand they do something.

Nicola Blackwood on the Home Affairs Select Committee asked some questions about ICT abuse in the last oral evidence session.

There is a 5live report about ICTs Sunday at 9:30pm. Adrian Goldberg is presenting and is looking for comments. I think his email is

An immigration policy restricting the entry of skilled workers into the country, rather facilitates outsourcing. Although there is more to outsourcing, tougher immigration policy is a significant factor that forces companies to outsource jobs.

Priya Kumar

high-end legal outsourcing