Surge in the numbers of foreign IT Professionals coming to UK
This is according to data obtained by SJD Accountancy, the UK’s leading contractor services provider.
The official Home Office data states that 34,229 non-EU IT professionals entered the UK in 2014, up from 30,189 in 2013. This is the highest number since the end of the recession, as 21,976 IT professionals from non-EU countries came to the UK in 2010.
The numbers refer to work permits issued to non-IT professionals filling a diverse range of roles. The most in-demand roles include IT business analysts, architects and systems designers, programmers and software developers, web design and development specialists.
SJD Accountancy says that the number of work permits issued to IT professionals is a statistically important metric of demand for tech skills across the board, as well as for specific areas of shortage.
Simon Curry, chief executive officer of SJD Accountancy, commented, “As economic activity rebounds and spare capacity diminishes, the UK is once again becoming increasingly reliant on foreign IT skills.”
Number of non-EU IT professionals coming to the UK, 2011-14
“Despite attempts to rectify the UK’s historic underproduction of IT skills, we are in danger of becoming as reliant on foreign talent as we were before the recession.”
He adds: “These numbers show that the expansion of the UK tech sector is at risk if the UK is unable to keep up with demand for IT skills. Skill shortages can delay projects and push up costs for businesses.”
SJD Accountancy points out that the number of people starting ICT apprenticeships has dropped to its lowest level in three years. In 2013/14 13,060 people started ICT apprenticeships, which is a decline of 33% from 2011/12, when 19,520 students began apprenticeships.
Curry continues: “The number of computer science qualifications obtained at apprenticeship and degree level is falling just as demand for IT skills is rising. Organisations which utilise IT skills are often highly mobile and an appropriately skilled workforce is usually a major factor in determining where they base themselves. Unless the UK can increase the number of people obtaining IT qualifications, these organisations will face tough choices about where in the world they operate from.”
SJD Accountancy says that with demand for IT skills rising, skills shortages are set to worsen. Its recent survey of IT contractors found that, for the first time since the recession, twice as many IT contractors are seeing rate increases than experiencing rate cuts. 25.4% of IT contractors are reporting an increase in their daily rates, compared to 12.6% who are experiencing reductions in their pay. In 2012 nearly twice as many IT contractors (29.1%) saw their rates cut than increased (17.4%).
Curry concluded, “Increased competition for the best candidates is starting to drive up IT sector pay. The time it is taking to fill roles is lengthening and in many cases finding the appropriate skills can be very challenging. Under such circumstances hirers are increasingly likely to turn to foreign talent to plug skills gaps.”