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Figures from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, which represents many IT recruitment firms, claim that almost 30,000 IT professionals came to the UK from outside the European Union last year using intra-company transfers. This mechanism allows organisations to bring in staff from overseas offices into the UK, Computerworld writes.
The Government's Migration Advice Committee confirms this development. Data published earlier this month shows that "IT and telecommunications occupations account for 65 percent of intra-company transfers, with the vast majority being software professionals, who account for 48 percent of intra company transfers alone. Most of these are for out of country applicants. However, around 20 percent of IT and telecoms intra-company transfers were for immigrants already in the UK."
APSCO and the union, Unite, have both lobbied the Migration Advisory Committee to make it harder for organisations to bring IT staff to the UK citing unemployment among UK IT professionals and the need to increase the skills levels of UK workers.
The debate is likely to intensify as organisations like British Telecom are closing their graduate recruitment schemes.
Commenting on earlier complaints by APSCO about the number of IT professionals coming into the UK, IT HR expert Iain Smith of Diaz Research said, "Those who want to stop foreign IT workers entering the UK are facing a tough job. It is not as simple as up-skilling the folk we have here and raising protectionist barriers."
"One of the subtleties about off-shoring IT work is that it brings a significant number of IT workers on-shore. These on-shore workers will often be foreign nationals whose value lies as much in their knowledge of off-shore teams and processes 'back home' as it does in technical expertise."