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IT recruiters claim over-reliance on foreign workers

Recruitment body Atsco says more needs to be done to encourage UK students to consider careers in IT
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Written by Steve Ranger, Editorial director, ZDNet on

Short-sighted staffing decisions could be damaging the future development of the UK technology industry, the body representing IT recruiters has claimed.

The number of technology workers from outside the EU entering the UK has increased by 14 percent in the past year.

According to the Association of Technology Staffing Companies' (Atsco's) figures, 38,450 UK work permits were issued to non-EU IT workers in the past year, compared to 33,756 a year earlier.

The organisation says that relying on overseas IT workers is a short-sighted policy and that more needs to be done to invest in training and encourage students to consider careers in IT.

Atsco obtained the data from Work Permits UK, the Home Office body responsible for visas.

Atsco said the vast majority of IT workers coming to the UK are classed as intra-company transfers, whereby companies relocate IT staff between offices in different countries.

Atsco chief executive Ann Swain said that, while the initial fear with outsourcing was that technology support functions would be the "thin edge of the wedge" and that mid-level IT roles would go offshore next, what is happening is quite different, with workers from overseas coming to the UK to take these mid-level roles.

Swain said in a statement: "Our concern is that the British IT workforce is being bypassed and that this is damaging the long-term competitiveness of the UK IT industry."

Swain said there has been a lot of soul-searching about the recent decline in the number of computer-science graduates from UK universities but added: "Is it any wonder so few students are choosing IT when entry-level jobs are being sent offshore and workers are being brought in from overseas for mid-level positions?"

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