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Going up…

Going up…

A while ago I wrote in another blog about a potential problem with the IT industry in the UK, where the bottom of the career ladder was being rapidly pulled up by the continuing off-shoring of UK jobs. At the time I was just speculating out loud, but some recent numbers have made me think.

For one thing, IT graduates have the highest unemployment rate of all, at around 17%. OK, so IT is notorious at preferring experience to paper qualifications at the best of times, but this is an extraordinary figure when you consider just how much IT work is out there, even in these straitened times.

So where are the IT jobs going then, if not to the UK workforce?

If you look at the numbers of ICTs being granted you might get a bit of a clue. A recent set of figures from the Government gives a very disturbing picture. For most occupations (and the list ranges from medical practitioners to magicians), the trend is actually fairly level; for example, 80 ICTs for electrical engineers in 2000, 95 in 2008. Hardly an issue.

But look at the IT trades – programmers from 290 to 875, Business Analysts up from 255 to 1050, Project Managers from 290 to 1450. The figures stop at 2008, when the rules were changed, but the trend continues upwards: recent figures from the Home Office show a 67% rise between Q1 2009 and Q1 2010.

I agree you have to take these numbers with a bit of a pinch of salt. For instance the 2009 to 2010 increase is for applications, not ICTs actually granted. Even so, it’s clear that the tend is ever upward. What’s more, it doesn’t take long to find job adverts for IT roles at rates that are well under any kind of market value. Say it quietly, but surely people are not advertising roles nobody would take on just to prove they can’t recruit anyone so please can we have an ICT instead? Plus, just to rub some of that salt into the wound, the offshore companies are taking on UK workers as part of an outsourcing deal and then making them redundant at a fair old rate because the work is now being done “elsewhere”.

And what really annoys me is the abuse of ICTs in the first place. These are meant to be used to transfer skilled people for specific roles within a multinational organisation. My experience of some of these workers – and perhaps I’ve just been particularly unlucky, although I rather doubt it – would not lead me to believe these are highly skilled experts in their field. Quite the opposite, in fact.

There is some light, of course. The Migration Advisory Committee is keeping a close eye on such things, and you can’t have failed to notice the debates about immigration and work visas, although this is being coloured by some very powerful companies insisting – against all rational evidence – that they absolutely have to being in people because they can’t find anyone suitable over here already. Well, apart from the 17% of IT graduates and the several thousand people on the bench since their old job got rolled offshore that is.

So as I said originally, the bottom of the career ladder is being pulled up. Which means in about another five years, we won’t have an IT industry and we can all stop worrying about it.

Just for once, I rather hope I’m wrong…

Alan Watts can found at LinkedIn.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Lost Parody T-Shirt by @my_cine

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