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UK clamps down on IT work permits

Skills shortage? What skills shortage!

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Tech workers from overseas will find it harder to obtain UK work permits, following the government's decision to remove all IT jobs from its shortage occupation list. The change to so-called Tier One Fast Track Visas (FTV) takes effect on September 1.

Work Permits (UK), the government agency responsible for awarding work visas, said it made the change following a meeting of representatives on the ITCE sector panel on August 21. The panel took soundings on the state of the IT job market and unanimously agreed to end tier one applications. It will reconsider its decision in three months time.

Overseas workers can still apply for permits under Tier 2 regs, but this involves a resident labour test. In effect, applicants will need to demonstrate skill of a high order.

To say that IT contractor organisations and web sites are pleased is an understatement.

Gerry Mclaughlin, MD of NamesFacesPlaces.com, a vociferous opponent of FTV, described Work Permit (UK)'s decision as "sensationally good news for contractors and all IT folk".

According to Mclaughlin, between 30-50 per cent of the UK's 100,000 contractors are out of work. Hmm, we have seen self fill-in web surveys compiled by the Professional Contractors Group (PCG), among others, which claim such a level of unemployment, but it seems extraordinarily high to us.

Anyway back to Gerry's figures, compiled with a little help from Contractor UK.

Around 10% of the UK’s permanent IT labour force was laid off last year, he says, equating to around 30,000 IT employees and the the same number of contractors. Around 37,000 Fast Track Visa workers have been given these tier-1 Work Permits in the past 3 years.

According to ContractorUK.co.uk the Government issued 15,888 FTVs - to IT workers, we presume - in the last 12 months, compared with 21,000 for the previous two years. ®

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