Migration Advisory Committee report is flawed and does UK IT professionals no favours

Damning retort to the pay recommendations for non EEA IT workers.

The Migration Advisory Committees (MAC) recently published its salary recommendations that non EEA IT workers, applying for UK visas, should be set. These recommendations are used by the government to set pay threshold  for worker from overseas being granted visas.

This is a very important subject as thousands of UK IT professionals believe they are being undercut by overseas workers that are paid far lower salaries.

George Molyneaux, from Salary Services Ltd/jobadswatch, has published a response to the recommendations made by the MAC. It makes very interesting reading. First I have a snapshot of his views followed by a link to the PDF of his full article (at the bottom of this article, just click on the image).

Molyneaux has criticised the government in the past for using out of date salary figures.
Here are his comments on the latest MAC recommendations.

“…the changes being implemented do not reflect the structure and salary levels of personnel working in IT and effectively mean the criteria being applied to grant visas to non EEA IT workers is flawed.

“In the view of the author these changes will result in a meaningless set of salary figures being applied by UKBA.

“MAC states that some partners involved in the survey had stated that the job functions of programmer, analyst programmer, software engineer and developer encompassed similar roles. In that case why do employers advertise all these roles under the different job titles? The answer is that the job functions are not the same. The software skills required for a software engineer are totally different to those required for a developer.

Does the MAC really believe there are IT directors at any level earning just £25,300?”

He also describes the problems caused if pay thresholds are set too low.

“Advertising for IT jobs is 68.9% down on pre 2008 levels. Despite this there is no evidence that the number of non EEA migrant workers has declined. The rush for companies to outsource IT operations and development over the past ten years has had a major impact on opportunities for IT workers in the UK. The fallout from the financial crisis seen during 2008 should mean there is a pool of experienced IT personnel available.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency newly qualified computer science graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find employment and currently head up the table of undergraduates out of work. These factors should mean that non EEA recruitment should be kept at a minimum. In particular visas for non experienced personnel (new entrants) at the 10th percentile level should not be implemented.

The overall impact of the MAC changes will certainly do no favours for home grown IT professionals, whether experienced or newly qualified. Over the past twenty-five years Salary Services Ltd/jobadswatch, together with its predecessor Salary Survey Publications has produced quarterly reports covering IT recruitment trends and salaries. During that period we have constantly highlighted the dangers of outsourcing to foreign companies and the likely impact on UK based IT employment. What started as a trickle of outsourcing computer operations rapidly expanded to incorporate development. Since year 2000 the UK has become more and more reliant on foreign based companies, all requiring their own imported staff to be based in the UK to support their operations. The time has come to start and curtail this.”

Click the PDF below for Molyneaux’s comments in full.

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In regards to IT staffing: According to the Department of Labor, the 2010 median pay for Software Developers was $90,000. In working with Dallas IT recruitment companies and they tell me that technology companies are planning to hire more people in the next six months as many key positions continue to remain vacant due to shortage of skilled IT professionals, especially SAP Developers. You should have good chances of getting jobs if you are in the IT Industry.

Than Nguyen


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) can be found here:


The MAC are basing the "going rate" salaries on the 10th and 25th percentile salaries for full time workers by 4 digit SOC2010 code in Table 14.7a. The 10th percentile is for "new entrants" with up to 3 years experience and the 25th percentile is for experienced staff with more than 3 years experience.

These are well below what an average UK worker doing the same job would be paid and these low salaries hardly reflect that these workers are supposed to be the "best and brightest" and have valuable skills that are hard to find in the UK.

Setting the going rate for an experienced software developer at £29k when the UK mean salary is £39k does not provide much protection from undercutting. No wonder 1 in 3 employer sponsored visas go to software developers.

The Research Director at SSL (George Molyneaux) and the Skills Sector Council (e-Skills) have got it right. This is damaging home grown IT talent.

It also damages UK businesses that employ UK IT workers when their competitors get an unfair advantage by exploiting and underpaying imported professionals.

@Karl: Argie Bee provides some very specific evidence regarding the MAC's unrealistic salary levels there. Any chance of an interested journalist raising these questions with the relevant politicians?