Home Office figures have revealed that 30,000 foreign IT workers entered the UK on intra-company transfers last year from seven companies who have their headquarters in India. The main three users of the ICT scheme were Tata, Infosys and Wipro. The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show that most of the positions filled by these ICTs were for entry and mid-level IT positions, which could easily have been filled by UK based staff. Actually none of the positions filled with Indian workers required a skills base currently in shortage within the UK.
Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented: “These figures show just how easy it is for foreign companies to bypass the UK labour market. The majority of companies relocating non-EU IT workers to the UK aren’t British companies looking to plug skills shortages, but foreign companies with their headquarters abroad moving staff to UK subsidiaries.
She continued: “Foreign companies are supposed to pay workers brought in on intra-company transfers UK market rates, but you have to wonder whether there is some economic benefit to transferring Indian workers from a low wage economy to the UK? If there is no cost-saving, then why do they do it?…These figures show that they [ICTs] are being used to fill entry to mid-level roles in which the [IT] skills used are largely standardised.”
She concluded: “There is no requirement for companies to tap the UK labour market before transferring workers from overseas. This is a major loophole which the government has failed to close, despite intra-company transfers accounting for about 80% of all work permits issued in the IT sector.”