Leaky Work Permit system hitting UK IT workers and contractors


Missing Out

UK IT workers will continue to miss out on job opportunities unless the rules which allow companies to transfer overseas staff to the UK are tightened up, Ann Swain, CEO of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), told a BBC Radio 5 Live investigation into the UK immigration system (aired on Sunday 27 September).

Ann Swain was speaking during a live 30-minute debate alongside Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), on Donal MacIntyre‘s Radio 5 Live programme investigating the impact of intra-company transfers (ICTs) on the UK IT industry.

Big Numbers

ICTs allow companies to transfer non-EU workers to fill jobs in the UK without having to try to recruit from the UK labour market first.

Nearly 30,000 non-EU IT workers came to the UK on ICTs last year.

The programme addressed what is widely perceived as the excessive use of ICTs by foreign IT companies, with Ann Swain arguing that much more stringent requirements should be placed on companies wanting to bring non-EU workers to work in the UK.

Not Far Enough

Ann Swain and Professor Metcalf discussed the recent recommendations by the MAC, which will be adopted by the Government, with Ann Swain arguing that the proposals do not go far enough and will not significantly reduce the use of ICTs in the IT sector.

Comments Ann Swain, CEO, of APSCo: ‘Abuse of the intra-company transfer system has been going on for years in the IT sector. The Home Office needs to be much more aggressive in ensuring that companies are not bringing in entry-level workers on ICTs to undercut the UK workforce.’

Lip Service

‘The intra-company transfer system was designed to make it easier for companies to bring in key senior workers who have specialist knowledge of their company. It is clear that the way in which the system is currently used barely even pays lip service to that intended purpose.’

A recording of Donal MacIntyre‘s show on Radio 5 Live with Ann Swain can be heard on BBC iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00myj91 until 4 October 2009.

ITContractor.com Comment

‘Nearly 30,000 non-EU IT workers came to the UK on ICTs last year’.

As around a million people work in IT in the UK that has added 3% to the UK IT workforce.

And it‘s not just this year, it is happening every year.

According to the Economic Laws of Supply and Demand if you increase the supply of a commodity (in this case IT labour) and the demand remains the same then the price of that commodity will fall.

So, it is not just that there is more competition for jobs with the knock on effect on contractors but that competition will mean a fall in salaries and rates for those working in the UK.

Indeed, that is what has been happening over the last couple of years and it is not just caused by the downturn.