Why should I study computer science when the jobs go offshore?

The government has this week scrapped the current IT curriculum. It will replace it with more focus on the “rigorous” teaching of computer science and programming subjects.

This will replace a curriculum that is currently heavily focused on using software rather than how it is created. This sounds good but the government will need to do more to address the trend of businesses offshoring IT work.

Big businesses these days aren’t concerned about where there IT skills come from, but rather  how much it costs. As a result offshore locations, most notably India, provide thousands of software engineers to UK firms and UK professionals are priced out the market. Offshore workers can cost a third less or more.

Only this week the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said that 1 in 4 UK workers are displaced by non EU migrant workers, with IT the biggest hit group.

There is also pressure from Eastern Europe where EU nations have a wealth of IT skills and offer nearshore IT services to UK companies. Countries like Romania have a legacy of high standard IT education dating back to the Soviet days.

The government has tried to stem the flow and in 2010 it put a cap on the number of non-EU workers getting jobs in the UK. But this did not include the dreaded Intra Company Transfer that allows companies with operations in the UK bring their staff in. However it did assign a minimum salary in ICT workers of £40,000 if they stay over a year, which many in the IT industry is too low especially when you consider that non salary tax free allowances are included, such as living allowance.

So should the government back-up this plan to increase computer science and programming skills with policies that encourage businesses to recruit in the UK?

Or should it train people to manage services being delivered offshore?

Governments have been wrestling with this for some time. See this link on Wikileaks for a confidential document about government attempts to manage immigration.

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