As the Government relaxes its work permit rules for certain skills sectors, antipodean contractors are finding themselves in demand by UK companies who appreciate their willingness to travel and their 'excellent reputation' as hard workers.
Careercare, an IT recruitment firm in Scotland, say its clients have found Australian, New Zealand and South African contractors flexible in their attitude to work locations, and more responsible, mature and committed than their UK counterparts.
"Antipodeans show the 'get up and go' that the IT industry needs," comments Careercare managing director, Alan Smith. "They're enthusiastic and offer both practical skills and experience at the same time."
"In our experience it is harder to get a guy from Edinburgh to move to Glasgow than it is to get an Australian to work in Inverness. These people are attracted to some of the most remote parts of Scotland and are willing to work anywhere."
According to Smith, the agency found most UK contractors unwilling to work away from home when it was sourcing staff for Integriti Solutions, a Dingwall-based firm that supplies corrosion and vibration monitoring systems. "Yet we've placed three Australians and a South African there in the last 12 months alone," he remarks.
Graeme Leiper, production and technology director at Integriti says the firm is delighted to have antipodeans on its IT team. "Typically, they are looking for three to six months work and this fits well with our business model as we work on a project basis. They are free to travel and are attracted by the outdoor life, so getting them to Dingwall is not an issue," he explains.
"They tend to be highly skilled people who have held senior positions in their own countries, and they are not afraid of responsibility. In comparison with UK people of the same age, antipodeans are more responsible, more committed and more mature."
According to Careercare marketing director, Jan Mutch, the Scottish contractor market is "absolutely booming" at present, partly due to the fact that many international organisations, such as financial services firm JP Morgan, are opening offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow. This, together with increasingly competitive contractor rates and the new work permit rules, will make Scotland an even more attractive work option to antipodean ITers, believes Mutch. She adds that Java and e-commerce skills in particular are currently in demand in Scotland.