New immigration proposals could lead to an influx of foreign IT graduates into the UK the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (Apsco) has warned.
It says plans to make it easier for companies to bring graduates into the UK will make it harder for UK IT graduates to get jobs.
The government is proposing to make graduates eligible for intra-company transfers, a type of work permit that allows companies to transfer workers from overseas offices without having to advertise vacancies in the UK first.
The purpose of intra-company transfers is to allow companies to easily transfer highly skilled workers with specialist knowledge to jobs that would be difficult to recruit for in the UK.
Under the current system, graduates would be unlikely to accumulate enough points to be transferred to the UK. But under the proposals from the Home Office's Migration Advisory Committee, Apsco says graduates would be eligible after three months of working for a company. Normally, workers must have been at a company for at least 12 months.
IT companies are exploiting the intra-company transfer rule more than most - they brought 29,240 non-EU IT workers into the UK in 2008, compared to 14,255 in all other professional service sectors combined.
Ann Swain, chief executive of Apsco, said, "The whole point of the intra-company transfer scheme is to bring in senior staff with specialist knowledge or expertise not readily available in the UK. Using the system to bring in graduates would be wrong-headed and illogical.
"While graduate secondments can be a useful way for companies to train staff, these proposals could lead to a significant increase in non-EU IT graduates coming to the UK at a time when there are plenty of UK IT graduates out of work."