Demand for Indian IT workers in Britain drying up

Monday, 30 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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LONDON: The demand for Indian IT workers in Britain is drying up, says a new report by Migrationwatch UK, a think tank.

The report, released in London Monday, says a block has been placed on new recruitment of IT specialists from India after the sector was taken off the "shortage list" of the Home Office.

The shortage list includes professions where Britain is particularly short of skilled labour and is looking for migrant workers to fill gaps.

The shortage list still includes health professionals, including primarily nurses, teachers and policemen.

But the removal of IT from the shortage list earlier in September will be a serious blow to many Indian IT professionals who had been looking for a career in Britain.

Of about 17,000 IT workers who came to Britain in 2000, about 11,500 were Indians. Many of the rest were Indians coming in from other countries such as Australia and the Caribbean.

Removal of IT workers from the shortage list means it might still be possible for an IT worker to come to Britain if a firm is willing to employ him or her, but it will not be so easy to secure work permits.

IT workers were removed from the shortage list because highly skilled Indian workers were taking on employment on relatively low pay. This meant British staff trained in IT was finding it difficult to get suitable jobs.

Migrationwatch UK, a think-tank on migration issues, says the government's decision to raise the number of work permits issued to foreign workers will mean that a record level of 175,000 migrants can be expected next year compared to 30,000 per year in the early 1990s.

That figure could include a large number of Indian nurses, but no longer the rush of thousands of IT workers.

The report suggests this could lead to a substantial increase in immigration from 2007 onwards since, after four years, permit holders can apply for settlement -- 95 percent of such applications are granted.

The new level could be as high as 80,000 people a year including dependants compared to about 9,500 in recent years, the report says.

But workers coming in can still beat the work permit systems. "The rapid response times, and the lack of post entry controls, leave the work permit system wide open to fraud and abuse," the report says.

It also found that, contrary to government hopes, there would be little or no reduction in pressure from illegal immigrants. Except for China, the top 10 source countries for work permit applications are different from the top 10 for asylum seekers.

Source: IANS
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