PCG forces more IT skills off the 'shortage' list

The Professional Contractors Group campaign over the issuing of fast track visas is continuing to bear fruit. The contractor's Group has now demonstrated to the Government that there is no skill shortage in IT skills, C/C++ and Javascript and, as a result, these skills have been removed from the fast track visa list. (This list is known as the Shortage Occupation List).

This follows on from the PCG's success in March when Oracle Database Administrators was removed from the list and last year when other IT skills, including programming languages, Java, Perl and Visual Basic were also removed from the list.

The PCG became a member of the Government's Skills Sector Panel for IT in autumn last year. The panel advises what skills in the IT sector are in short supply and would be eligible for the issuing of fast track visas to overseas workers to meet a perceived need in the market-place. However, the PCG has demonstrated that many parts of the list are out-of-date and in other cases, the scheme has been open to misuse and abuse.

The PCG presented the results of its recent survey at the recent Skill Sector Panel meeting to show that many of its members possessed the specific skills which were considered to be in short supply, yet were unable to find available work on contracts. As a result, C/C++ and Javascript were both removed from the list. Javascript had been included on the list as a skill for senior workers only, it was linked to Java. The PCG explained that the similarities between Java and Javascript end at the name and that Javascript should never have been on there as a skill in its own right.

Philip Ross, PCG Policy advisor said: "We are pleased that the skills shortage occupation list has been updated to remove C/C++. This is something we have been lobbying for since the New Year and we have presented evidence at the last two Sector Panel meetings. The list is a better shape now as a result of our lobbying and the information supplied to us by contractors. Thanks are due to the contractors who filled in our skills survey and so provided us with the hard evidence we needed. There is still much to do, and we will be producing evidence to demonstrate that other skills are not in short supply and should also be removed..."

The PCG co-ordinated the collection of evidence for the Government to demonstrate that these skills were no longer in short supply by surveying the contractor community through the PCG's website. It received hundreds of individual case studies, which supported its claims.

The PCG is continuing to run two surveys about fast track visas at www.pcg.org.uk/ftv. The first survey is on possible abuses of the system; and

www.pcg.org.uk/ftv/skillssurvey.html on specific skills on the skill shortage list.

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