British IT workers ‘crowded out’
British IT contractors claim they are struggling to get work because
large companies are using a government scheme to employ people from
Firms are using intra-company transfer visas to move employees from
overseas bases – usually in India – to UK jobs.
BBC Radio 5 live was told people are brought to the UK to work on
government IT projects run by BT and Capgemini.
Both firms say they are operating within the law. The government said
it was tightening the rules on such visas.
The guiding principle behind immigration rules for skilled workers
coming to the UK, from outside the EU, is that an employer can only
hire an overseas worker if no-one in Britain can be found to do it.
But intra-company transfer visas (ICT) mean an overseas employee can
come to work for their company in the UK if they have six months’
experience, are paid an appropriate salary and do not take the job of
a permanent UK worker.
About 50,000 ICT visas are issued every year and two thirds of them go
to employees in IT and telecommunications. About 70% are given to
British IT worker Anil Verma has been out of work for two years.
“A lot of the IT contractors – they’re very very bitter about it,” he
“ Capgemini has no plans to replace all of its UK contractors with
overseas employees ”
“The government’s issued too many intra-company transfer visas and a
lot of these guys have come over from India and flooded the IT
industry. There’s not enough jobs to go round.”
Paul used to work for global IT firm Capgemini in Telford, Shropshire,
on a Revenue & Customs project. His contract was not renewed and he
left in May.
He says talented Britons are gradually being replaced by Indian
workers brought over on ICTs and he, like other IT contractors, feels
that they are being undercut by cheaper overseas labour.
“There’s no sense in bringing somebody from overseas to do that if
it’s costing the company exactly the same,” he said.
Capgemini said it complied with all the ICT visa regulations,
including those relating to pay.
“Overseas people working in the UK for any of our clients provide
specific skills and are permanent employees from the global Capgemini
Group,” it said.
“Capgemini has no plans to replace all of its UK contractors with
overseas employees, as these local contractors are a valuable part of
our flexible workforce.”
The BBC also heard from BT contractors working on an NHS patient
records project in Leeds. They said Indian nationals on ICT visas were
being used to fill roles once filled by British workers.
“ They are not filling roles that require a permanent UK presence ”
BT said no permanent staff had been replaced.
The company admitted it had tried to reduce its reliance on what it
called “expensive contractors” over the past few years by re-skilling
current BT employees.
It had also outsourced some IT work to Indian companies, who could
then bring workers over on ITC visas.
“They are not filling roles that require a permanent UK presence,”
said a spokesman.
Lin Homer, chief executive of the UK Border Agency, said the ICT visa
system had been shown to “contribute to the UK’s economic prosperity
by supporting international business and encouraging investment.”
However, the rules will be tightened next year and to qualify for a
visa, workers will need 12 months experience with their sponsoring
company and the system “will no longer lead to settlement”.
The UK Border Agency said there were strict rules on what ICT visa
workers should be paid and any allegations of abuse would be