back to article Scrapping UK visa cap on nurses, doctors opened Britain's doors to IT workers

The number of overseas IT workers turned away from jobs they were offered in the UK fell 68 per cent in the month after the UK government removed nurses and doctors from an immigration cap. Home secretary Sajid Javid tweaked the rules for skilled workers entering the UK from outside the European Union via the Tier 2 (General) …

  1. Detective Emil
    Meh

    Where's your sense of balance?

    The article lacks an insincere and pat response from the Home Office, framed in language that makes it clear that it believes it is talking to an audience with the intellect of a seven-year-old.

    1. John Mangan

      Re: Where's your sense of balance?

      You mean one of those statements that not so much contradicts as ignores all evidence, statistics and analysis referred to in the article?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Where's your sense of balance?

        The home office is following the government's target of net migration of "10s of 1000s."

        It just doesn't know how many people are entering, how many are leaving and how many intend to stay - but they are following a target.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where's your sense of balance?

          I suspect the home office has a fairly good idea of how many people are entering and leaving the country within a margin of 1-2% to account for known problem areas (ie. The Irish border allowing "tourists" to enter the UK via Northern Ireland or errors where border control mistakes are made).

          The real problem for the home office is "the lie" - how big is the actual number versus the publicly available number? How do the methods used to calculate these numbers differ from reality?

          I'm not suggesting conspiracy, just that bureaucracys short term fudges to please a political master often backfire horribly and the truth becomes the enemy.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Where's your sense of balance?

      It's about time this was stopped. Make them pay market rates instead of being able to import cheap third world labour to fill these roles.

      1. Pete4000uk

        Re: Where's your sense of balance?

        And adress the reasons why people don't train to do these jobs, or stay in their careers.

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Where's your sense of balance?

          "And address the reasons why people don't train to do these jobs, or stay in their careers."

          Paying market rates automatically fixes that. Supply rises to reach demand as pay rises until it does.

          e.g. Not enough people with a certain skill? Market rates will rise. More people will then train in that skill until an equilibrium is reached.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

    If you want to see a shit eating grin, just express your pleasure that finally Brexit is delivering some real benefits, as we turn away Europeans in favour of Indians, Pakistanis, and Africans.

    Depending on your social circle (or your parents ...) it's also fun to remind Brexiteers that "it was never about immigration" too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

      I am a non-white Leaver. I and many like me voted specifically to leave the whites-only immigration club and open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people. So yes I am getting exactly what I wanted, thankyouverymuch. Sorry to spoil your narrative.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

        EU immigration is lower than extra-EU immigration and I'd already under the UK's control so it's pretty much open already.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

        “I am a non-white Leaver. I and many like me voted specifically to leave the whites-only immigration club and open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people. So yes I am getting exactly what I wanted, thankyouverymuch. Sorry to spoil your narrative.”

        At the risk of sounding a bit racist, I quite like that club, and it isn’t entirely white either. The club got its shit together, and has little things like the rule of law. I’ve never needed a facilitator* to help get me in or out of any European country. No French or German immigration officer has ever tried to extract a small formality from me. And I don’t (yet) need special permission (i.e. a visa) to access any member of that club (and a lot more besides). So yeah, I have a definite bias towards our neighbours when it comes to immigration, given they kindly returned the favour.

        * And just for using that word, I’m AC, thank you very much.

      3. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

        "I and many like me voted specifically to leave the whites-only immigration club and open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people."

        I'm afraid I don't quite understand that line of reasoning - being a member of the EU does not stop the UK permitting immigration from the Commonwealth, or anywhere else, on whatever terms the UK wants. Or have I misunderstood you?

        1. ratfox Silver badge

          Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

          being a member of the EU does not stop the UK permitting immigration from the Commonwealth, or anywhere else, on whatever terms the UK wants.

          They might be thinking of Schengen, which UK has never been part of, but which does have the feature that employers should prefer any Schengen resident to any non-Schengen resident.

          I don't know what common agreements currently exist between the UK and Schengen, but maybe they do contain such a clause.

          1. NerryTutkins

            Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

            I have read the EU immigration rules very extensively as they apply to me and my family (Brit resident in EU). I am not aware of anything in the Schengen rules regarding this. And my wife is an immigration lawyer in the EU, so she knows the rules pretty well.

            The closest I have seen is that Switzerland was facing being kicked out of the single market after a narrow referendum result to limit EU/EEA immigration, which is not permitted under its single market access treaties with the EU. Needless to say, in the end the Swiss backed down to avoid economic oblivion (are you watching Mrs May?) but were permitted to require that vacancies are advertised first locally, thereby effectively favouring those already resident in Switzerland (but not just the Swiss, any EU/EEA nationals already there). But Switzerland is a Schengen country, so this doesn't really indicate that Schengen residents would be favoured. For example, a Portuguese national in Portugal is a Schengen resident, but would have no advantage over a UK resident in applying for a job in Switzerland.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people."

        Which, incidentally, are far cheaper and easier to exploit.... a the Commonwealth reference is not to Canadians or Australians...

      5. jon battle

        Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

        Thank you for your honesty, at least. It is interesting that you introduced skin-colour into the argument, which can be summarized as: "I voted for Brexit so we can have less white I.T. workers, and you're a racist".

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

        Be careful what you wish for. If history is any guide then the way this country is going you'll be next.

        I wish you the best of luck.

    2. iTechnomancer

      Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

      Hang on, wasn't that the whole sell of Brexit? Making it so we can change who we want and what skill set? If you speak to someone who voted for Brexit and doesn't think this is a good idea, well, they are just bigoted, any sane person, who voted for Brexit or not, would think this a good idea.

    3. BongoJoe
      Coat

      Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

      I know. These inner city problems caused by the Danes in their ghettos, the Germans taking over all of our jobs and the Austrians coming over and getting their free 84" colour televisions and free iPads on the DHSS.

      It was time to stop. Stop, I tell you!

      Icon: yours in the white coat with fastenings around the back.

      1. Ogi

        Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

        > I'm afraid I don't quite understand that line of reasoning - being a member of the EU does not stop the UK permitting immigration from the Commonwealth, or anywhere else, on whatever terms the UK wants. Or have I misunderstood you?

        It is a lot easier for EU migrants to get a job and residency then non EU migrants. As an EU citizen they have a right to work and reside in the UK visa free. Indeed it cuts both ways, I can just pop down to Germany for a job, rent a place and reside there just as I would if I moved to another part of the UK (at least until Brexit).

        Non EU migrants don't have this ability, so they are disadvantaged. Brexit will change that, and if it is a "hard Brexit", then EU migrants would have to jump through the same hoops as the rest of the world to go to the UK, and most would probably not bother and just find work in Germany or another EU country.

        > I am a non-white Leaver. I and many like me voted specifically to leave the whites-only immigration club and open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people.

        This is actually a very common thing in my experience. Pretty much every Asian family I know are hard core Brexiteers, and as one of them explained to me, they have no connection with Europe, no cultural or other ties at all, and are more than happy to replace the EU with a freer trade/immigration agreement with the commonwealth, who speak English, have familiar legal structure, and for which they have cultural, family and other ties with.

        They felt this was not possible to have while in the EU, because of EU agreements preferring EU immigration (I don't know if this is true, but it is what they believe).

        Interestingly, from my experience, it seems Brexit voters are divided into 3 main (mutually incompatible) groups:

        1. The "bring back our sovereignty" group, rallied against the EC Bureaucracy, the EU's perceived undemocratic nature, having laws written by others, etc.... Against the Political EU side of things (i.e. forming a United states of Europe), but happy with a free trade/movement of people agreement across the continent, and continued cooperation. "Keep it strictly business" type of idea, and generally favour "soft Brexit".

        2. The "Immigrants out" voters, for whom immigration was the only reason to get out of the EU, with the goal that out of the EU, the borders will be under UK control (and therefore locked down), all the immigrants will be kicked out and there will be more jobs for British people. Pushing for "hard Brexit".

        3. Commonwealth immigrants, who voted Brexit with the idea that it would increase immigration from their home countries, as Europeans stop migrating to the UK (or start leaving), freeing up positions for them. Generally for "hard Brexit", but happy for any agreement that benefits non EU immigration.

        Before Brexit the above three were united in a common goal, but once they have achieved it, I suspect they will fall out quite badly, as their three visions for the UK cannot be reconciled together. Group (2) I suspect will be the most disappointed, as leaving the EU most likely won't result in less migrants, just less European migrants.

        Seeing as non EU migrants will generally be cheaper than EU migrants, I think the UK may well see a marked increase of immigration after Brexit, in an attempt to stall any economic recession by driving down wages (and therefore business costs) to make the UK more globally competitive.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

          As it turns out, a lot of employers do quite like an experienced, reliable local person. Especially if that person comes pre-cleared with SC security.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

          As an EU citizen they have a right to work and reside in the UK visa free

          The UK could have implemented the "three months without a job after arrival and you're out" rule as in the 2004/38 directive, but it didn't. Can you guess what happened a little over a decade later?

          Pretty much every Asian family I know are hard core Brexiteers

          I take it you don't live in or around Leicester then.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "yours in the white coat with fastenings around the back."

        A surgeon coat? But maybe they are blue or green, today...

        <G>

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

      "it's also fun to remind Brexiteers that "it was never about immigration" too."

      Yes it was. Everyone I know that voted for Brexit including me voted to get control of immigration including from poor countries in the EU.

  3. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    I thought the claim was that nobody would want to come here. That our NHS will be short staffed because people wont come here to work in it.

    As to the subject well done to the gov for making a necessary change even though it needs pointing out to them.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: our NHS will be short staffed

      Our NHS is short staffed.

      FTFY.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: our NHS will be short staffed

        Since they started insisting that frontline NHS workers might be able to form a coherent sentence in English, yes.

        1. ivan5

          Re: our NHS will be short staffed

          They should also insist that all the doctors actually understand English and have the necessary skill set to do the job they are employed to do. - a piece of paper from some foreign country does not cut it.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: our NHS will be short staffed

            - a piece of paper from some foreign country does not cut it.

            Presumably there would be conversion courses to allow American doctors to learn British physiology ?

            1. Duffy Moon

              Re: our NHS will be short staffed

              Why on earth would American doctors want to work in the UK?

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: our NHS will be short staffed

                > Why on earth would American doctors want to work in the UK?

                Following Brexit I assumed some would be there sent on humanitarian missions.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: our NHS will be short staffed

                "Why on earth would American doctors want to work in the UK?"

                Because we have a proper national healthcare system and there are not tens of millions without healthcare?

            2. Teiwaz Silver badge

              Re: our NHS will be short staffed

              Presumably there would be conversion courses to allow American doctors to learn British physiology ?

              Psychology conversion course, maybe....

              1. Mike Pellatt

                Re: our NHS will be short staffed

                No, I think physiology was entirely correct.....

                Compare average UK BMI with that of the USA :-) (although I will concede that they do appear to be converging)

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: our NHS will be short staffed

                  According to my BMI, if I gained one centimetre in height then I would no longer be obese.

                  Yours, an ex-international second row forward.

              2. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: our NHS will be short staffed

                Here's your conversion course...

                "we have to get over our prejudices..."

            3. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: our NHS will be short staffed

              "Presumably there would be conversion courses to allow American doctors to learn British physiology ?"

              Yep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLi55MV04a8

        2. Alan Hope

          Re: our NHS will be short staffed

          They've been turning away Australian nurses because they don't speak good enough English.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: our NHS will be short staffed

        >Our NHS is short staffed.

        Our NHS has always been short staffed.

        FFTFY

  4. knarf

    oh eh... No....

    I like been part of a limited skill set, its good for pay packet.

  5. tiggity Silver badge

    UK IT shortage

    There may be a shortage of people willing to work for dismal pay in stressful IT related posts, maybe the socially responsible answer is better pay and conditions instead of getting in cheap labour

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: UK IT shortage

      Don't be silly.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: UK IT shortage -Don't be silly...

        Spot on, All our IT work is going to India. Didn't you get the memo?

        Well either that or to the Cloud where it disappears forever once the rains (or monsoon) has stopped. /s

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: UK IT shortage -Don't be silly...

          Spot on, All our IT work is going to India. Didn't you get the memo?

          I'd agree that's how it feels, but I must apologise as I've had an attack of rationalism - there's a job here for the Reg journos. If they can stop boozing at the Matrix Printer & Ferret for long enough.

          Taking a semi-arbitrary start date of 2002, what were the numbers of UK based IT and Support services jobs then and for 2017? What was the average or median salary? What was UK employment and unemployment figures on those two dates.

          How has offshoring affected the UK tech and business process job markets? I think instinctively we'd say it has been persistent and hugely negative (I would on an instinctive basis). But where's the evidence?

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: UK IT shortage

      This is a great opportunity for large service organisations to charge several thousands per month to supply the cheap foreign labour, thus not undermining local pay rates.

      We can also ignore the fact that a lot of the good quality foreign IT labour has already moved to a better paying locale due to good quality IT experience being in short supply almost everywhere.

      Who'd want to start their career in IT again now?

      /rant.

      1. theModge

        Re: UK IT shortage

        We can also ignore the fact that a lot of the good quality foreign IT labour has already moved to a better paying locale due to good quality IT experience being in short supply almost everywhere.

        The weak pound makes Britain a less attractive place to come deploy your IT skills.

        Random anecdotal case study: My Czech friend. He can earn almost as much at home as he does here, but in Czechia he can live like a king whilst so doing; the £35kish he was on here goes a lot further there.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: UK IT shortage

      I think the plan is to replace the people who work in IT-related posts with IT.

      Like most political initiatives, Brexit is hoping to solve yesterday's problem. Globalisation has moved on from moving people and goods around, it's now all about eliminating people and goods from the picture to the fullest extent possible - apart from those necessary to keep the people with the money in their opulent, disease-free, New Zealand bunkers.

  6. Why Not?

    here is an outstanding idea.

    Up the minimum salary to be paid to £70,000 - these are highly skilled people after all.

    Do not allow the employers to deduct expenses from this salary, stop them paying £50k and charging them £30k to stay at the company owned house.

    Charge £5,000 for any application regardless of success.

    Prohibit those on Visa's from being on customer sites more than 3 days a month.

    As most of these applications are from foreign owned & taxed consultancies add a ICT etc tax.

    I wonder how many apprenticeships will open up.

    We might even see a few less jobs advertised at £16K in the city.

  7. Roopee
    Holmes

    Job Titles...

    Has nobody considered that 'IT' jobs might magically have become 'Nursing' jobs? At least on the visa applications...

    It was the first thing that occurred to me when I read about the sudden drop in one category coincidental with lifting the limit on another category. Seems to me a much more plausible explanation!

    1. Jon 37

      Re: Job Titles...

      If the limit was 20,700 / 12 == 1725 visas a month, and about half (860) of those were used by NHS doctors and nurses, then only about 860 other people could get a visa each month.

      Once doctors and nurses were exempted from the limit, all 1725 visas a month could be used by other people. So twice as many IT & other people could get a visa each month

      So there's no need for people to game the system, the change naturally helps everyone who's trying to get a visa.

      (And I suspect that if you're claiming to be a doctor or nurse you'd need to be able to qualify as a doctor/nurse under the UK rules, if you're an IT person then faking that would be hard and seriously illegal. It's not just a different job title).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not against immigration

    Though surely the state should be making best efforts to ensure we don’t need to import too much in the way of high value skills? At the moment, I don’t think the UK does anything like enough to nurture the talent potential within its own borders, and the government has no plans to so much as make a start. Eventually, the people at the bottom will realise they’ve been had. By then, I think the right kind of riot police will be in place*.

    * Think the kind of urban pacification specialists we see in Brazil. Because that’s all the senior Brexopaths really want: First world taxes, third world public healthcare, and a well equipped paramilitary police force.

    1. Duffy Moon

      Re: Not against immigration

      "At the moment, I don’t think the UK does anything like enough to nurture the talent potential within its own borders,"

      Certainly true in the case of doctors. Probably because it's far cheaper to import them than train them. I spent many years and many thousands of pounds getting the right qualifications and work experience in order to study medicine. I had five interviews, but still could not get a place on a graduate-entry course. Now, I'm struggling to find a job which pays a living wage. A bit of a waste really.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not against immigration

      "Though surely the state should be making best efforts to ensure we don’t need to import too much in the way of high value skills?"

      The idealistic view...educate people, they get better jobs, they continue to develop their skills and continue to improve society.

      The reality is that the UK has yet to fully adjust to this self improvement cycle. Politicians have always preferred to import cheaper skills from other countries (depending on the time period, Ireland, the sub-continent, the Caribbean, the larger commonwealth and currently the EU) to provide an economic boost and pay for all the additional educational requirements and other social improvements.

      Only it never quite works out - politicians become addicted to cheap and easy fixes and educating/improving some areas of society can take many generations to address the causes of problems. Three generations is likely to be half a dozen different politicians (in a constituency that wants to improve itself) or one politician who believes nothing changes in a less progressive constituency...

      While historical behaviours and classes are likely to be part of the issue, the UK has always made different choices than other countries and certain parts of society have benefited as a result - while the future maybe different, history tends to accurately show how a country cycles through societal change.

      But maybe my cups just half empty?

  9. Rooster Brooster

    Not a government problem

    If industry is running out of trained staff, why didn't it train more people. I'm not talking about now, but 15 years ago when the problem started to emerge. Business has relied heavily on 'the market' providing staff trained in the skills it requires. The pool of people dried up and instead of pushing full steam with training, it became a long running issue for immigration and the government to sort. The issue belongs to industry and it's time that it took ownership of the problem rather than lobbying to scoop more from overseas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If industry is running out of trained staff"

      That's not the problem. The industry is running out of *cheap*, somewhat trained, staff. Whenever you can replace a more costly employee with a cheaper one, it will improve your figures and may earn you a nice bonus. If you can externalize it to some cheap company, even better. Thereby, all you need is a pool of cheap workers.

      In many places, training is just seen as an expensive extravaganza.

      1. Claire Sweet

        Re: "If industry is running out of trained staff"

        Except it isnt':

        "However, tax relief will be given if an employee needs the training to do their job – if it is 'wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred'. So the costs will not be deductible, unless the training is necessary – e.g. training for an employee to carry out a new job would not be deductible"

        https://www.nelsonslaw.co.uk/training-costs-tax-deductible/

        They've no excuse really - they just couldn't be bothered to train. Cheaper to get someone who 'says' they can do it from abroad.

  10. YARR

    Is the current immigration cap arbitrary / invented out of thin air? Is the cap not set at a calculated level for a good reason?

    Shouldn't permitted immigration be dependent on factors like available housing and services in an area for one? If the cost of living is too expensive for local people, no more immigrants should be allowed.

    Also, for immigration to benefit the country, shouldn't they impose a MAXIMUM salary? i.e. immigrants should not be paid more than local workers, but should not be imported to undercut them either (so prioritise local workers first).

    I once saw an immigrant (German) dentist who told me the extortionate rate the NHS was paying to have him work here under contract. Expensive immigrants offer poor value to the taxpayer - we'd be better subsidising the education of our own workforce and paying them enough so that we have a sufficient number of talented British workers.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Oh great...

    ...more "overseas coding" done by poorly paid man-children. At least people like me who know what they're doing will always have a job, albeit an increasingly depressing one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap labour supply

    With my IT role (DBA) these visa quotas are being used to hire DBAs from India and the going rate has more than halved in London - those let in are happy to work for low rates for 5 years in order to get permanent residency and a British passport. Once they're no longer tied to their sponsor they disappear and work for whoever's paying the most.

    I suspect that in many cases that companies arguing for higher quotas have no issues hiring staff but just want them much cheaper.

    There needs to be checks to ensure that the quotas are only increased for jobs where there's a genuine lack of supply.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheap labour supply

      Can we have an immigrant employee tax please? It is just another tariff which we will soon have to use thanks to our American and Chinese friends.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dont Forget the Fourth Group of Leavers

    I voted leave just because I wanted to see what would happen.... My inner anarchist won :-) Kinda disappointing that the whole rage induced rioting, all out continental war and complete collapse of the EU hasn't happened like we were warned but I suppose there is still time and hope.

    That and it gives those poor journalists something to write about on a slow news day.

  14. TwoWolves
    Facepalm

    Who would want to be here?

    Great. House prices to the moon and wages to the floor. Who would want to live here?

    Soon the only way to breed will be on benefits.

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