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back to article IT recruiters warn over migration caps

The government's plan to cap the number of non-EU economic migrants allowed into the UK has attracted criticism from IT recruiters, who claim some skills cannot be sourced here. The Home Office is to hold a consultation on the plans. In the meantime an interim limit of 24,100 work visas has been announced. IT recruitment firm …

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WTF?

Internal Secondment Switcharoo

I had never heard of bringing in "offshore workers" to do hands on stuff in the UK until a little while back, when a manager for a large IT company let slip that they were doing it. I always thought the jobs which required physical prescence in the UK were at least safe from offshoring, but watch out, they aren't!

By the sounds of things the offshore workers treatment is little better than the snakeheads would offer, but I suppose they didn't at least have to pay for their travel. She told me there's an awful lot of homesick and suicidal problems with these poor folks who have not been prepared for the culture shock.

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Greedy Agencies

I feel so sorry for those greed agencies and consultancies that now can't ship in low cost off shore labour to keep their profit margins up.

But having worked with off shore people, not half as sorry as I do for the people they bring over who are treated (in my experience) with contempt, put in poor quality accommodation and kept away from their families for months on end, and yes I know it's their choice but it's all for a bigger profit margin and nothing to do with quality.

With 2 Million plus unemployed, you'd think that we should be able to fill any vacancies from that pool, lets face it Uruguay managed to build a world cup semi final team out of a population of not a lot more!

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Thumb Down

Education in the UK is a joke.

I went through college in the UK studying an average of 40 hours/semester, yet I did graduate with distinction. While I was seeing people around me struggling for a pass, I thought at high school in my home country that in comparison was 20 to 30 times harder.

Yet most of the IT people flying in from ex-colonies and protectorates are even less prepared than the average local bloke.

About the recruiter, well... they can go fuck themselves. When someone recruiting for IT tells you "what is this wintel thing? Yeh know... I AM NOT A TECHNICAL PERSON" you cannot ask yourself what hands you are in.

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Linux

ICT's

In all the years I've been working as a contractor I have never seen any of the Indian workers that actually understood the subject they were brought in for.

As a matter of fact I know that at one company I worked for, the skill level of the Indian workers was so poor that they asked them to do a simple test on the area they were brought in for, guess what - not one of them passed the test !!

Its a disgrace that this is allowed to happen - there are so many IT people out of work in the UK and they are not being given a chance at of the jobs because the jobs are being offered to Indian workers.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Sorry, but

I dont believe a single word coming out of 'IT recruiters" since one of their ilk advertised a job needing 2 yrs of .net experience THREE months after .net was released to us mere mortals.

Oh and as for the agencies down here among the robots..... please dont ever send us one of your 'qualified' guys again.... I've better things to do than disentangle a manipulator hand from the machine its just jammed itself into.

If I wanted that to happen I'd get my apprentice to program it.... would be cheaper too

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Anonymous Coward

Same for Oracle

I saw several jobs asking for at least 3 years experience in Oracle 10g RAC when it had only been out for 16 months and one that wanted experience of 11g in a "production" environment the week Oracle released it.

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FAIL

Programming by IM

One guy came into my office supposedly with a whole raft of skills including Oracle DBA & Developer. Just what we needed we thought.

Two days in, I drops by to see how he was getting on. Just in time, I saw the IM display.

He was being coached on how to write SQL by IM from someone in India....

Needless to say, he was one the next plane home.

Oh, and as he was over here, he was beging charged to us at the same rate as an English Guy sitting next to him (also supplied by that company).

So much for cheapo bodies. Pah

Fail for obvious reasons.

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Stop

agency aversion

As someone on the hiring side of this equation, after binning the N,000th rubbish CV which was obviously trawled up after a very simplistic keyword matching exercise, I've finally and completely given up on agencies. We only accept direct applications and bear the burden of all forms of candidate suitability checking ourselves. I wish we'd done this ages ago - oh well, you live and learn.

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Alien

There are good agents.

I know several, but unfortunately, they're outnumbered literally hundreds to one, by people who...

a. keyword check, because they don't even know what the requirements mean. They could be selling houses, or washing machines in some high street retailer.

b. know so little about the guys they're after, that they ask you questions like "I see you wrote a bespoke rdbms kernel in ram, to handle trades at high speed, but it doesn't mention that you did sql there, can you do it." or "I see you say you've underlined the every, in EVERY version of <whatever>, does that include version X?" or "I see you designed an enterprise service bus there, but it doesn't mention XML, could you just make it a bit clearer that you did XML, it's not me, it's their HR department."

c. want you to write the sentence "I have full lifecycle experience" rather than describe your full lifecycle experience, because they simply haven't a clue what to look for in a cv when asked to source people with FLC. The same is true of everything else that isn't a discrete skill.

d. and while we're on discrete skills, ask you "How many years of Java have you got." - And when you respond with, "I know people with three years Java who are better than some with ten years, because they're 140 IQ." they respond with "well is that three or ten or something else?"

e. say, "I know everyone else says they will, and they never do, but I will ring you back even if you're unsuccessful."

f. say, "I just want to find a bit more about yourself." or "I have a job that might suit yourself." These sentences aren't even valid English. There's even an agency who puts forward helpers to candidates going to the FCO, with a sentence that says. "It's 'we were' not 'we was' and 'I done it' is never right." How can they be sure when they use the word 'yourself' incorrectly.

g. leave emails saying, "I have a job, somewhere in England, with some skills required, are you interested?" or "PLEASE CALL ME URGENTLY, IT'S LIFE OR DEATH!" and then they've no idea who you are. or send out two, three or four identical emails five minutes apart, just in case you might want to read it more than once. (Thanks to Steve Martin for that one.)

h. leave emails saying "I see you're married, and running the gas and oil analysts at JP Morgan, have two kids, and your wife runs the Equities desk at Goldmann's, and have lived in Hampstead for several years. I can't persuade you to relocate to Benbecular can I?"

As such, I take Shmirsh's view, although I can't always avoid the agents, I just get them to send every cv, and do a five minute phone test, to test whether the guy's stupid or not. (I'll obviously not give the real questions out.) but I can get through a hundred or more people in a morning.

Q1. Where did Labour go wrong on education policy?

Q2. Where did Labour go wrong on Industry?

Q3. Where did labour go wrong on the economy?

If they can't speak english, they fail.

If they can't understand the question, they fail.

If they can't think of an answer, they fail.

They can even get the questions wrong, and pass, if they thought them through cleverly.

The CV, under pressure from agents and HR, is now two pages, which is worthless. "Worked on Amazon" could be anyone from the tea lady to the M.D. Also worthless are references from someone you don't know, so you might as well treat them as such. Just use it to get the name and telephone number for the IQ test. I've seen CVs from people who said they worked on projects I've built from the ground up, and have no idea who they were.

I've heard of one referee once describing a guy as being able to think his way through a brick wall, and even if the referee was right, I still don't let them through the door for a main interview without passing the phone one first, though I'm sure to only ask general questions on the phone, never tech specific stuff.

I can only explain what works for me, and this is how I see it. It's worked for me so far.

In truth, it's not the fault of the agent, it's just life. When you take away industries that average people can do, and introduce an industry that only 2% of people can do, the average guys have to do something for a living. So the government invents loads of non jobs. The world wasn't evolved for ICT.

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WTF?

Painfully true

I can relate to a lot of what you say whilst searching for work, particularly (c)->(e). One bit that gets me though, your very final paragraph about it something only 2% of the population can do.

I would hazard a guess to say almost all businesses in the modern age make use of computers at various levels. Using government figures:

- There are 61.8 million people in the UK

- About a third of them are working age so, lets say 20 million possible workers (not taking skills in to account)

- There were an estimated 4.7 million businesses in the UK at the start of 2007, will round to 5 for math sake

There is on average, at least 8 candidates going for any IT role. It doesn't take a statistician to see something is wrong here, even if looking at it as pessimistically as possible. The world HAS evolved for ICT, that's why we apparently live in the DIGITAL age.

You sound very much like a recruiter to me and one who doesn't have a clue about computers at that. There's talking for the sake of guaging intelligence but, why would a tech head have a lot of care about where Labour went wrong when there are important questions to ask.

So to you sir/madame, I do say it is the fault of the agents...a bunch of useless twats who slow down people who genuinely want a job and are passionate about IT from ever getting a foot in the door

*sighs and cries*

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Anonymous Coward

the falsest economy there has ever been

For 'Skilled' read 'Cheap'. I find it perverse that lots Uk IT jobs have been off shored and that the sucker punch has been to open the flood gates to 'Skilled' (cheap labour) from India, which in my experience:-

1. Has poor communication skills

2. Has to be spoon fed and programmed like robots when projects go awry and thinking out of the box is required, which never ever materialises and has to be provided by the Uk staff.

3. Has to have requirements specified to the nth degree of detail

4. Has been certified up the hilt but is clueless when it comes to best practices and general common sense.

5. Culturally does not like to say 'No' to anything, therefore commits itself to mile stones it / they cannot deliver to.

6. Give no indication that they are struggling to deliver until it becomes painfully apparent that the brown sticky stuff is hitting the fan, again because admitting any failing / difficulties is seen as losing face.

The irony of this is that the cost savings anticipated in bringing the off shore resource on shore is never realised and in fact costs projects more in the long run.

Lets not delude ourselves though, skill does not come into the as the only consequence to the bean counters is a smaller number in a cell in a spread sheet. If this cap genuinely comes into place, this is pay back time.

The way in which the out going government has opened the flood gates to off shore staff is a betrayal of Uk workers.

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Anonymous Coward

accurate

there's a simple test around teh initiative/thinking outside the box issue too, that pretty much shows this.

India has one of the biggest software industries in the world, so where is all the innovative Indian software? Why hasn't an Indian company released the newest, fancy office suite or operating system that's bowling us all off our feet? Why aren't we all writing documents in TATA Office?

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Megaphone

where you get real knowlage?

when do you get a real knowledge? on completing a degree or by getting the experience at work place, specially in IT, as far as i remember my uni just gave me the very basic as i realized later it would not get you any job. and if you do not provide the graduate a working experience is knowledge in IT is just zero. i remember once asking my Indian c++ teacher the question about the difference between the router and the switch, and i got what the answer that it is not his area and could not give me the answer, that when i realize that you don't get much knowledge at uni which in my case was (UEL)

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FAIL

It's a title, duh

IntaPeople and anybody who thinks like them are so completely wrong it's not even funny. I hate the idea of such caps, but lets stop purpetuating one of the greatest scandals in this country's history.

I've managed to pursuade my employer to hire from outside of London because being from out of London I know the state of affairs around the country, and if these people bothered to look they'd see it too - that we have a large pool of very inteligent and skilled IT workers who can do the jobs that they're supposed to be doing in an economy that's supposed to be made up of tertiary and quaternary industry, rather than dragging people in from countries who's economies are mainly made up of secondary or even primary industries in many cases.

If nothing else can we at least all agree that these countries are going to need their own IT workers to grow in the future? What are they supposed to do - import a bunch of Brits, Americans et al for cheap labour?

We shouldn't need caps, recruiters and employers just need to open their eyes.

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Happy

Felt this and it really hurt (apologies for length)

Fairly recently, I finished University and even before/during got myself a lot of experience in the IT sector with regards to support/development/deployment. HEAPS of small projects and a couple of medium sized ones, only a few can really live on the CV or it would be a mess. One could go so far as to say I live and breath IT. I've been around me my whole life and not meaning to be a big headed, I'm pretty good. if I don't understand something, I will by the next day from all angles, not just originally intended.

I went and applied for a simple job as "Junior IT Support" at a prestigious Grammar School and there were two other candidates who made it through to the actual interview. One was a green who had just finished College having studied computing, as people do with hopes of primo prospects with the world being full of IT and all...

The other was a Polish guy, 37 and didn't speak good English and had come over to the UK because there was no work for him in Poland. His previous experience was working in a service station. This service station experience was his only ticket on the CV and said as much to the both of us. He'd wired up their network and made sure it worked; I can only hazard a guess this means checking peoples bill???

Have a guess who got the job??? Why, Signoire service station of course. I got in direct contact with the possible employer to ask how I did and the like, they said I was perfect for the job. They actually used that word and then went on to say I should be applying for bigger roles than what they had.

Why the f**k would I have applied for the job unless I wanted it? As many have pointed out, jobs which aren't Junior require a whole raft of inhuman experience unless you have already been in the IT sector for many years and have some rock solid references. Simply put, having what can actually be called a "profession" in the UK is fast becoming a thing of the past...if you are born in the UK of course.

We really need to start trusting our own people. Trust builds two-way confidence, confidence results in people going out on a limb for others. When people make an effort and it's noticed, the likelihood is a person smiles, smiles make good vibes and generally speaking, happy people make the world a better place in ALL aspects of life, not just the workplace.

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Anonymous Coward

Tombo

Outsourcing allows a business to stagnate cheaper at the cost of any future innovation, and this is not reversible. It a complete lack of long term thinking by business minds today. I would guess because executives know Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Legal but few of them understand development and IT. The real dumb ones outsource their core competency.

Adobe outsourced their R&D in 2005 to save money in the short term, now they don't have the expertise to make a stable efficient mobile interpreter OF THEIR OWN PRODUCT. They've been trying for a few years, but just don't have anyone who can wrap their head around the whole thing. All the original devs are long gone and instead of teaching a new generation of developers, they outsourced. They've probably gone through 5 or 6 generations of developers in 5 years when the should have gone through no more than one. All the expertise gets lost with that fast of a turnover.

As soon as a company or group comes out with a competing product to Photoshop and Illustrator that the community will rally behind, Adobe is no more. I suspect Apple, FOSS or a newcomer will come out with one before too long.

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Paris Hilton

One more AC 22:06

7. Sound convincingly like a subject matter expert. Unfortunately with a little probing you realize that the paper moron has no fucking clue what he is talking about.

Paris has more on the ball!

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Silver badge

Experience costs money

Employers can't be bothered to train upcoming staff as it is expensive and the trainee will probably leave to work for someone else who has deeper pockets because they don't spend money on training.

It might take two or three years before the degree level entrant is actually earning their keep for the company. That is expensive and in fairness to the employers it is very hard to judge staffing level requirements for years into the future. Especially as the government f*cks about with huge and failing IT projects constantly taking on and dropping large numbers of highly qualified staff.

The lower wages, lower costs and lower employment law barriers in some countries bring this cost down. It's therefore cheaper, easier and more manageable to take staff from abroad. simples.

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JDX
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IT Angle

Load of balls

There is no shortage overall, that much is obvious since unemployment is up, and many contractors are on the bench finding it hard to get work.

While there may be some very specialist niche skills which are hard to find people for, I doubt that those are the kind of thing that the cheap non-EU workers are skilled in. The whole point of Asian development schools is they churn out masses of drones on a production line, even if we assume they are high-quality drones then the fact is they know the most common technologies in order to be sold as interchangeable cogs to developed nations.

Just look on JobServe and it's easy to see jobs posted which are specifically looking for foreign workers... typically the roles offering £80/day

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Stop

Is it really skill that's required?

What tends not to be reviewed in articles like this are the *exact* type of skills deemed to be missing. It's all general stuff.

It seems unbelieveable to me that from a population of 650M UK businesses cannot find suitable employees. Without a cleat articulation of the skills that are supposed to be missing the cynic in me assumes its not really skill but price.

I can imagine there are a small number of companies providing, for example, translation services which will need access to people with specific language specialities. However these companies have alternatives. Do the staff really need to be employed in the EU?

With almost free tele or video conferencing such obviously specialist skills could be accessed remotely. Sure, the remote person would need an infrastructure. If so the EU company can engage the services of a company in a foreign locale. Yes, this might push up the EU companies cost but, one might argue, this will at least create a more economically level playing field.

I can imagine a takeover by a UK plc of a foreign entity will require temporary services of some members of the aquired company and longer term assistance of some senior staff. But the same logic applies. Especially as short term work, a week or so, doesn't require a visa.

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Anonymous Coward

skills shortage? bah

Monday they tell us 17% of compsci graduates are unemployed, Tuesday they tell us there's a skills shortage and the only way to fill IT vacancies is to round up all the slack low quality compsci grads from other countries where the authenticity of their qualifications is questionable at best.

Well excuse me if that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Best way to solve the problem? Round up all the recruitment agents and fire them into the cold depths of space (where they will mill around doing much the same thing they always did - i.e. nothing). Then make it a legal requirement for companies to publish all vacancies with the job centre so that anyone can find them in one central place.

If they don't want to employ any of the hundreds of applicants they will surely get - tough. They don't get new employees then. Let a more successful company grow instead. Simple.

Obviously the market will need some time to correct itself and record numbers of people + record breakthroughs in automation means lower pay. All the time you crying that you under-paid, well It's like that, and that's the way it is.

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FAIL

Funny, it's the opposite of the news

I understand it was recently published that the hardest hit job sector for graduates was the IT sector, and that IT graduates were struggling the most to get IT jobs. I returned to the UK right in the middle of the recession and spent months trying to find any IT job that would take me, and it took over 6 months to find one.

I think the recruiters are utterly, utterly wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Highly skilled? At what

I applied for a HSMP visa and when filling out the form I stated that I was a farmer, spoke bad English, didn't have a degree, didn't earn much nor expected to earn much, but I did say I was single and in my early 20's. Then I hit the apply control and guess what? I was eligible for a HSMP but there was a £500 fee for the documentation.

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Zap
Gates Horns

They would say that

They would say that because they make so much money exploiting foreign workers. Every one they let in adds to our social security bill. The current requirement to advertise the jobs in the job centre for 2 weeks is inadequate, it should be two months. WHY? Unemployed people only go to the Job Centre every two weeks, so they would miss jobs. Even if you went every day the touch screen systems do not allow you to search by the Job code based on the SIC code you enter when you sign up. To do that you need an appointment with a Job Councellor and those taken up just with signing people on.

The Jobs should be advertised for two months both in the Job Centre AND online.

The foreign worker option should be the option of last resort. There is no skills shortage, go to any job site and search and you will be met with 20 pages of people with suitable skills. The issue is that they want to employ people on the cheap.

I met a chap from India on a course recently, he was paid 10k in his first year here and was grateful for the opportunity. He admitted he had no special skills he had recently finished his education when he was recruited. In year two he was paid 18k and in year three he was paid £30k. He was OK with it until he found what his employer was charging for the work he did, in Year three it was £250k.

He told me he would never rock the boat because he sent most of the money he earned home to his family in India. Not only is he being exploited but the impact on a worker here cannot be ignored.

It is simple economics, first we have the cost of social security of the person he replaces, this may be thousands a month including Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Child Tax credits, Working Tax credits and if his wife is on a low income JSA and/or income support. These benefits also create additional entitlement costs. After a while the British employee will be entitled to training subsidies and all manner of programmes to get him into work all at the cost to the state.

Meanwhile the Indian sends his money back to India and so distorts the beneficial impact of anyone in work. The British worker would spend his money in the UK and improve our economy.

The only beneficiary is the Employer and many IT Recruiters have moved into this lucrative area to exploit this. So Yes, they would say "some skills cannot be sourced here", Rubbish! The skills are here and every investment in training UK staff improves our economy further.

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Coat

Limits = Better Skills Selection

Our tech lead has all but given up being a tech lead and is now relegated to writing pseudo-code for a bunch of off-shore "skilled developers" from you-know-where with interesting university degrees in comp.sci, a litany of vendor certifications and with "many years' worth of IT experience", who then attempt to rewrite this into program code using a monkey-see-monkey-do approach. Our tech lead then has to rewrite the code because it does not work. Over the last weeks, these "skilled developers" are none the wiser in the art of programming and benignly smile and shake their head in that funny side-to-side way when you try to explain stuff. There is a lot of this smiling and head-shaking going on and we get on famously well...

Of course, the tech lead could have finished the project on his own by now, but the irresitable lure to upper management of using someone who only costs £60 per day (+ per diem) is just too great to resist.

Mine's the coat with the "Buy British" label in the collar - even though I am also a bloody immigrant, albeit highly skilled and truthful.

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same crap, different country

the same bogus argument in the USA. The only thing companies want is cheaper labor.

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So Here's a Question

How many of us have been writing and calling to our elected representatives about this? For that matter, how many of us have been getting together to protest? If a hundred unemployed geeks showed up with signs outside firm X noted for off-shoring every week, and got the media on the story, wouldn't that embarrass them into hiring local talent?

I know I never have, nor has any other IT worker I've known, that's been screwed by outsourcing and the many MANY unethical and cruel tricks that have been played on us by employers.

Do we have anything like a professional association or *GASP* trade union that isn't an obvious mouthpiece for large software companies? No, we do not.

The sad reality is that we're all too defeatist and apathetic to do so, and will be until the pressure on our finances as a group rises to the point where we've found ourselves painted into a corner.

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Anonymous Coward

You've hit the nail on head...

the problem being is that so many, most trade unions are weak/corrupt (having been bought by the companies to which they are supposed to be representing the employees of said companies).

I think that it won't be many years 'til we see the kind of union versus company labour disputes that were common in the early half of the twentieth century. It is very difficult for that kind of union movement at present as corporations are so far intertwined with government that laws/regulations heavily favour the corps. It'll happen anyway, unfortunate that this will be required but we as the working class will be (are being) forced to it.

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WTF?

That's not the point of immigration...

You've got loads of out of work graduates (70:1 ratio of applicants to jobs, I hear) and this fellow is saying "if we can't import labor then the world will end".

Something doesn't add up.

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Anonymous Coward

Something I haven't seen mentioned...

, yet, about the perils of outsourcing or insourcing (bringing foreign workers into a country) is the idea of intellectual property theft.

Your company sends its requirements and code to a foreign company/country (little difference these days). Now how do they propose that this information/code is safely kept from competitors? In many of these countries bribery and theft are a traditional form of the social fabric. that's the outsourcing.

The insourcing, provides the opportunity for a competitor, or any sufficiently large organization, to provide an excellent candidate for the job to get easy access to code and specs.

Of course, I realize that this can and does go on without foreign workers but why make it easier than necessary?

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Gates Horns

Stuff I like to hear

I suppose the slaver has a point, there is a dearth of wage slaves with skills in Blighty or anywhere else for that matter.

This is of course if you discount using the Xerox machine to make ones diploma and certifications, they all seem to know how to do that...

Evil Bill because BillWG will be going to Washington again to try and remove Visa caps in the colonies like he does almost every year.

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Anonymous Coward

I never made it

I graduated 3 years ago with an honours CS degree. Not a brilliant one admittedly, but I have one. In Glasgow, I got interviews for a total of 3 junior development jobs (and a few others that weren't specifically junior). The usual graduate jobs with KPMG etc were out of my league without a 1st or 2:1 and I always got dismissed instantly.

I now work in support and those 4 years are worthless.

Ironically, I know two successful software engineers without degrees. But they're 10-15 years older than me and were able to get junior developer jobs in the past with just an HND.

I don't blame migrants for "taking our jobs" or anything like that. I blame employers for not being realistic and for not investing in staff.

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