Government must include intra-company transfers in immigration cap
Government must include intra-company transfers in immigration cap or UK IT jobs will continue to suffer
Intra-company transfers account for 80% of work permits in IT
Intra-company transfers inhibiting job creation in the UK
The Government should include intra-company transfers (ICTs), a type of work permit that accounts for 80% of non-EU IT workers entering the UK every year, within the immigration cap, says the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
ICTs allow employers to transfer staff to the UK without advertising jobs in the UK first.
APSCo says that whilst it is opposed to the immigration cap, it is nonsensical to introduce one which does not include ICTs.
APSCo has responded to separate consultations on the immigration cap being held by the Migration Advisory Committee and the UK Border Agency.
In its responses, APSCo pointed out that three times as many non-EU IT workers are entering the UK using ICTs than during the dot com boom when skills shortages were acute. A cap on non-EU immigration, which excludes ICTs, would therefore do little to boost employment of resident IT professionals.
APSCo says that the majority of IT workers coming to the UK on ICTs do not have specialist skills that cannot be sourced from the UK jobs market. The ICT rules are being exploited to reduce employment costs, thereby restricting opportunities for workers in the UK.
APSCo also said in its submission that the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), which applies to all other work permits, should apply to ICTs. The RMLT means that employers must advertise requirements in the UK first before being allowed to source workers from overseas.
Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, comments: While APSCo is opposed to an immigration cap in principle, if we are going to have one it is nonsensical to exclude intra-company transfers. The Government is determined to push ahead with a cap, but if intra-company transfers are excluded, its largely a political gesture that will do little to restrict the influx of non-EU IT workers to the UK.
We urge the Government to include intra-company transfers within the cap. A reduction in the number of intra-company transfers would be compensated for by increased employment within the existing pool of resident IT professionals.
Most workers coming to the UK on intra-company transfers have generic skill sets that are readily available in this country. We are certain that a large proportion of these roles, if advertised at UK market rates, could be filled by the resident labour market.
She adds: A cap is a blunt instrument that would struggle to provide the flexibility that UK plc needs. How would employers access specialist skills once the immigration limit had been reached?
APSCo says that organisations using ICTs often pay these workers in their country of origin, making pay rates difficult to trace. They sometimes also pay workers in packages including accommodation that can be priced arbitrarily by the employer.
Ann Swain says: We need full transparency on the pay and terms of conditions of workers entering the UK via the ICT route.
The Migration Advisory Committee also asked to what extent lack of training/skills is a factor behind the growing use of work permits.
APSCo responded by pointing out that there are no recognised skill shortages in the UK IT sector and that there is a pre-existing pool of IT labour in the UK. There is, therefore, no need for significant training and up-skilling of UK resident workers.
Ann Swain says: Intra-company transfers are used because it is easy and saves on employment costs. Employers dont want the expense of hiring UK or EU nationals. This is nothing to do with lack of skills in the UK workforce.