July 31, 2006 11:48 ET

Amicus says work permit scheme is damaging investment and employment in UK key sectors

LONDON, ENGLAND--(CCNMatthews - July 31, 2006) - Amicus says it is concerned that the UK work permit system may be damaging skills investment and affecting the UK's ability to compete in key industry sectors.

In a report published today, the union says there is already evidence that industries such as IT are seeing an influx of short-term workers from abroad at the expense of resident UK professionals. Amicus says that a more rigorous approach needs to be applied to the granting of work permits with a stronger onus on companies to prove they are unable to recruit those skills in the UK.

Amicus will be writing to Home Office ministers looking to seek assurances to protect the future of long term investments for skills development in the UK and to ensure that the work permit scheme is not abused.

Amicus' National Officer for the IT sector, Peter Skyte, said: "The work permit scheme is a very necessary requirement for the UK economy. Where there is a shortfall in a particular skill that cannot be met by resident staff or through training, then that expertise should be brought in from abroad but companies should not be allowed to treat the scheme as an opportunity to put short-term profits before long-term investment in the UK labour market.

"The figures show a huge increase in companies sponsoring work permits to bring in IT workers in particular. The question needs to be asked whether the skills represented in these figures are bringing in non-resident work permit holders at below going rates in the UK and what effect this will have on foreign direct investment and the future of the IT sector."

Amicus say that the there has been a huge increase in the number of work permits granted for IT occupations over recent years from 1,800 in 1995 to 30,000 in the last year, despite the IT workforce falling since 2001. 75% of work permits are for transfers within companies, whereas only 11% of all work permits issued for non-IT occupations are for this route.

Pay data also shows that 66% of IT work permit holders are paid less than the equivalent of GBP30,000 per year. Given that the average salary of an IT professional is GBP32,500 in the UK, on the face of it the majority of IT work permit holders would appear to be undercutting the industry average salary.


Contact Information

  • Amicus
    Peter Skyte
    020 7420 8983 / 07768 931 302
    Amicus press office
    Ashraf Choudhury
    020 7420 8914 / 07980 224 761