UK immigration laws are expected to be relaxed to make it easier to attract skilled IT workers from overseas.
But the move is unlikely to stem the flow of skilled UK workers abroad. The US, for example, is also planning to further relax its immigration laws to encourage more IT workers.
John Higgins, director general of the Computing Services and Software Association (CSSA), said he is expecting an announcement in the next couple of weeks from immigration authorities enabling certain overseas IT workers to gain a 'fastrack' permit to work in the UK.
"We're expecting that IT workers with skills in shortage areas will benefit from the scheme," said Higgins.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education and Employment, which processes overseas work permits, said that while it is currently conducting a review of the situation, "no announcement as such is expected."
"We know there are certain IT skills shortages and we're discussing what can be done," the spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile the IT skills crisis in the UK could be about to take a turn for the worse as the US is set to release more H-1B temporary work visas.
The H-1B visa enables US companies to hire skilled technical staff they cannot find in the domestic market, for up to six years.
At the end of 1998, the US government increased its H-1B allocations to 115,000 for 1999, compared to the 65,000 it released in 1998. The allocation is expected to be increased further this year, at the request of Silicon Valley company bosses.
Higgins said: "This is what got the UK up in arms, losing our skilled workers to the US."
UK e-minister Patricia Hewitt said last month that she is planning an appeal to ex-pats to lure them back to the UK as the IT skills crisis worsens.
Research company IDC predicts the overall shortage of skilled IT professionals in Europe will grow from five per cent in 1998 to almost 20 per cent in 2002, with the networking field hit hardest.
HP and Centrica are the first industry partners to sign up to the government's new Code
New ice grows faster but is also more vulnerable to weather and wind
With a crackdown on cheats is coming in November, PUBG rushes to fix matchmaking problems introduced in Update #22
New material uses carbon dioxide from the air to repair and reinforce itself