The IT sector is at the forefront of the trend towards the globalisation of labour. We see this both with the movement of personnel and of the work itself. The economic necessity for businesses to acquire strong IT skills is forcing governments to look at the way in which their immigration rules are working.
There is a very careful balance that needs to be struck in the recruitment of overseas labour in this sector. There are dangers in both a too restrictive and a too open policy for the success of the sector. An overly restrictive approach risks IT businesses moving out of the UK to countries where they can recruit globally as they wish. A too open policy could damage the UK domestic IT sector as overseas labour is used not to fill genuine skills gaps but simply to replace domestic workers at lower cost.
Liberal Democrats propose that this should be dealt with in the various fora that exist to look at IT skills requirements, principally the Sector Skills Councils. These should be able to make recommendations both on domestic training needs and also on the need to recruit labour overseas. It is important that this process is conducted as openly as possible in order to command the respect of the industry as a whole.