More IT jobs going to foreign workers

by Editor 3/20/2008 4:11:00 PM

While the consulting sector worries about hiring freezes and layoffs, IT industry jobs in the UK are getting offshored to non-EU workers more and more frequently according to the government data cited by the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCo), a trade association for the IT, Telecommunications and Professional Level Engineering Recuitment Industry.

In the past 12 months, there has been a 14 percent leap in the number of information technology professionals who are not citizens of the European Union, who have come to the UK seeking jobs in the technology sector. 80 percent of the foreigners who apply for work permits for jobs in the IT industry come from India.

The trade association has raised the issue of the qualified foreign staff threatening British jobs. 38,450 workers were issued work permits for the information technology sector in the past year, compared to 33,756 foreign workers who had arrived to the British IT sector the year before.

While India has been Britain’s main destination for outsourcing IT jobs for quite some time, now organizations are using the lax visa requirements to bring IT staff to the UK.

ATSCo chief executive Ann Swain commented: "There was a fear that support functions would be the thin edge of the wedge and that mid-level IT roles would go offshore next, but what is happening is quite different. Foreign IT workers are actually coming to the UK to take these mid-level roles. The IT skills shortage issue is nowhere near as acute as during the dotcom boom, so why is it that more than 10 times more foreign IT workers are entering the country now than then."

At the same time, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding voiced her concerns this week that women are severely underrepresented in the IT industry, with very few of them choosing to pursue IT jobs at a time when the engineering and technology sector will need approximately 300,000 qualified professionals in Europe by 2010, as some estimates show. 

Reding says that the image that usually goes with IT jobs - the one of them being geeky, boring, too technical - must be revamped: "We need to show that IT ... is interesting, is mainstream, is part of everyone's daily life — and that an information and communications technology career is a choice for a creative person."

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