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We live in interesting times

We live in interesting times

I know I keep banging on about ICT abuse, but I make no apologies for it. The systematic destruction of one of the few things we do well in the pursuit of short-term gain is getting well beyond a joke. Just look at what’s been reported in the last week or so.

Firstly, it seems that British business is in dire straits, utterly unable to get the skilled staff it needs to fill some key roles. Therefore, we mustn’t put any kind of cap on intra-company transfers or we will go even more bankrupt than we already are.

OK, so explain this. While most companies need a hundred or so ICTs a year to bring in their key personnel, how come just five of them consume over 10,000 a year? If these highly skilled employees are so necessary, why are the people already doing the job being tasked with teaching the newcomers how to do it? Isn’t the point of an ICT that the holder knows what they’re doing already?

Also why, may I ask, if one of the key tests for granting an ICT is that the imported worker should not displace an established worker, why are increasing numbers of established workers being displaced as soon as possible?

Or if we really can’t supply the skilled staff we need out of the thousands of out of work contractors and the 17,000 IT graduates who can’t get work, just why aren’t UK companies training the people they need from their existing workforce?

Then I read of someone whose freelance colleagues have been told they have to become employees of the agency – not, you notice, the client – at a set maximum salary. Needless to say, they have universally decided that’s not how they want to live their lives and are leaving as their contracts run out. So now they’ve been asked to stay on long enough for their replacements to get their visas processed and receive training and mentoring on how to do the job of the departing freelance.

Kafkaesque, isn’t it?

There are faint glimmers of hope. For example, the suggestion is that you have to pay an ICT at least £40,000 a year – and that’s meant to be a genuine salary, not £20,000 plus subsidised accommodation, flights, and other ethereal additions to make the numbers look good. Although that’s been offset by the threat not to include ICTs in the immigration cap. After all, they’re not going to swap the ICT for a Tier 1 after a while and stay here, are they? Oh, hang on a minute…

The Coalition have been researching and consulting very hard on this whole subject. They have been lobbied by groups such as the PCG who feel they would rather like to hang on to their market, and by others who business model seems to be based on taking that market and moving it elsewhere. I think the policy will make interesting reading. I don’t think, however, that I’m going to like it very much.

Never has that old Chinese curse seemed so totally apt…

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

Image: Say No to new Japanese Immigration Procedures! by stbeck

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