Skills specialists have downplayed government claims that the UK is winning the war for IT talent over other countries including the US.
New research published this week by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Home Office claims the UK is a magnet for professional workers from around the world who want to work at the cutting edge of their industries.
The report, Knowledge Migrants, says high-calibre IT professionals are choosing to work in the UK because they see it as a centre of excellence.
It also claims that the influx of talent is helping to ease domestic skill shortages, despite figures from analyst IDC that warn of a 12 per cent shortfall of IT talent in the UK - representing 1.7 million people by 2005.
The UK's work culture and variety of jobs; quality of life and opportunities for career advancement are all major pulling points.
Commenting on the research findings Trade and Industry secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "This report reveals that the UK is increasingly attracting a tremendous diversity of highly skilled people from around the world.
"It is testimony that the UK provides the opportunity for high-calibre professionals to work at the leading edge of their careers and at the same time share their knowledge and expertise within key British industries," she said.
Nick Kalisperas, senior programme manager at industry body Intellect, told vnunet.com: "Broadly we support the research. There will be occasions when we need workers from overseas to meet shortages and we needs to make sure that working in the UK is as attractive a proposition as properly.
"But it needs to be balanced by longer-term programmes to ensure that we have enough domestically sourced IT employees to meet our skills needs."
That dual-band strategy includes the need to address the low representation of women in the sector and to encourage schoolchildren into technology-related careers, Kalisperas said.
"It's encouraging to see increased co-operation between the DTI and Home Office. Something as fundamental as IT needs a joined-up approach," he added.
John Eary, head of the NCC Skills Source Consultancy, warned that pockets of skills shortages still existed and that, despite the slowdown in IT recruitment, companies in some parts of the country are still struggling to fill vacancies for skilled staff.
The report contradicts claims by the European Union that the commitment to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010 is in serious danger of stalling and that progress in addressing IT skills shortages is slow.
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