Let’s hear it for the MAC

22 Jun

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the body which advises Government on its immigration policy, has just begun sifting through the no doubt hundreds of responses it will have received to its “Call for Evidence”. This exercise asked whether and how the immigration system should be tightened, and what economic evidence exists for such a move.

Clearly, this is an important issue that concerns many IT contractors, who rightly feel angered by revelations such as those made in a recent edition of “File on 4” on Radio 4, a program to which we contributed many facts and figures. Reports from our members allege that BT may be massively exploiting a loophole in the immigration system – the “Intra Company Transfer Visa”  (ICT). According to these reports, this allows BT to replace hundreds of contractors with “onshored” IT staff at lower cost. Rules within the ICT system are meant to prevent such visas from being used to displace UK workers, yet, unfortunately, this is not what seems to be happening. This is against the spirit of these rules and is undermining the UK contractor market in a recession.

Amongst this strength of feeling, the MAC’s call for evidence provides a golden opportunity for change to the system, something we have been calling for over many years. Our membership of the Migration Advisory Committee’s stakeholder forum has allowed us to have a say in the operation of the immigration system, and has no doubt played a very big part in instigating this review. Our past efforts have been successful- we have managed to remove IT skills from the list of shortage occupations, for example, but more needs to be done.

Numerous organisations have submitted responses to the MAC, including APSCo, who recently released a press release on the subject stating they have done so. It is pleasing to see such organisations adopting PCG’s stance – that is to say, supporting the reform and tightening of the Intra Company Transfer system, and this to me demonstrates just how big a problem this is. We’ve worked very hard to get to this stage and now all that remains is to continue to engage with the Migration Advisory Committee and with other key stakeholders.

We have been meeting with the MAC regularly to present our ideas and evidence and we welcome submissions to our evidence gathering campaign to strengthen our case. We have also met with key industry bodies like e-skills, the sector skills panel for the IT industry, in addition to academics and economists – so we have a very long history of activism in this area.

We’re calling for a system that will be better enforced and that will ensure a post is only filled by a migrant worker if no suitable domestic worker can be found. We’re also calling for more transparency in the way ICT workers are paid. Above all, we’re calling for a fair system, and for UK contractors to be given the opportunities they deserve to provide their skills to UK PLC. Our efforts seem to be bearing fruit with the MAC’s latest review, and I await with interest their findings in July.


3 Responses to “Let’s hear it for the MAC”

  1. Sean Key July 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm #


    I have set up a petition about this on the 10 Downing St website.

    Please have a read of it and sign up if you agree.

    • Colin Cotter August 5, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

      I’ve had no work for 3 months now and I believe this is largely due to this on-shoring model.

      I can’t believe that our goverment is allowing this to happen.
      It would never happen if other EU countries

      I certainly won’t be voting Labour!


  2. David M August 21, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    This is not just happening in the IT industry. I work in engineering and have seen evidence of it in various customer organisations. IMHO this harms not just those currently available for work but also the potential for training tomorrows graduates and apprentices and therefore the future of industry in this country. Ironic given this country’s need for having a more balanced economy. There is no doubt a balanceto be struck between providing international experience for staff, treating people fairly and looking after one’s own country.


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