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The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) has demonstrated to the Government that there is no skill shortage in Oracle Database Administrators and, as a result, it has been removed from the fast track visa list. This follows on from the PCG's success last year when other IT skills, including programming languages, Java, Perl and Visual Basic were also removed from the list.

The PCG, which represents the interests of 14,000 small businesses in the knowledge-based sector, 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 However, the PCG has demonstrated that many parts of the list are out-of-date and in other cases, the scheme has been open to misuse and abuse.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 evidence 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.

Chairman of the PCG, Jane Akshar said: "We are pleased that the skills shortage occupation list has been updated to remove Oracle Database Administrators. This is something we have been lobbying for since the New Year when we presented evidence at the last Sector Panel meeting. The skill shortage list still doesn't reflect the true situation and we will be producing evidence to demonstrate that other skills are not in short supply and should be removed.

"Although we welcome this move for Oracle DBAs, we still believe that the whole issue is being looked at the wrong way round. It would better reflect the reality of the situation if a case had to be made to prove a particular skill should be on the list and was in genuine short supply. At the moment, we are having to demonstrate that a skill should be removed from the list by showing that there are hundreds of people out of work or out of contract in the UK who possess that particularly skill.

"We are also working with Work Permits UK to identify companies that are abusing the work permits scheme, whether bringing people via the shortage occupation list or using bogus intra-company transfers to replace UK workers. That is illegal and the PCG is working closely with Work Permits UK to help them crack down on this."

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 web-site. It received hundreds of individual case studies, which supported its claims.

The PCG is continuing to run two surveys about fast track visas here: http://www.pcgroup.org.uk/ftv/index.html on possible abuses of the system;
and http://www.pcgroup.org.uk/ftv/skillssurvey.html on specific skills on the
skill shortage list.


Notes to Editors:

1. The Professional Contractors Group was formed in May 1999 to lobby
against the Government's IR35 proposals. It is a non-party political group and its patrons are cross-bench peer, Lord Weatherill, former Speaker of the House of Commons; and industry guru Sir John Harvey-Jones. Since its
formation it has evolved into the representative body for independent
contractors from many disciplines including IT and engineering on many
issues affecting the knowledge-based sector.

2. The PCG's aim is to work for proper recognition of independent
contractors as a genuine and valuable sector of the economy, generating
wealth and employment, providing industry with a flexible workforce. The
Internet has been the PCG´s primary resource, providing fast, effective
communication.

3. PCG has been actively involved in the fast track visa campaign and
represents the contractor community on the Government's Skill Sector Panel
for IT. The fast track visa scheme permits companies to bring in overseas
workers who possess skills which are deemed to be in short supply,

4. Work Permits UK is the government agency responsible for the issue of
Work Permits and controls what skills are on the short occupation list. The
full list is here: http://www.workpermits.gov.uk/default.asp?pageid=2595

5. For further information about the PCG's position on fast track visas, see
press notice 03/02
http://www.pcgroup.org.uk/press_pn0302.html

6. For further information about the PCG: http://www.pcgroup.org.uk

For media enquiries contact:
Susie Hughes,
0207 462 7955/ 07703 486276

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