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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 18:19 GMT
Global search for IT skills
Firms advertise for workers in India
Firms advertise for workers in India
The global shortage of skilled IT workers is causing the West to look increasingly to India for help. But increasingly Indian workers are reluctant to leave. The BBC's Rebecca Pike reports from India.

Britain, the United States and Germany have relaxed their immigration laws to encourage more Indians to move.

But now many Indians are returning home, or choosing not to leave in the first place

Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, is a city in the throes of an IT revolution. Its most precious resource is its people.

It has tens of thousands of software engineers who are the envy of the world.

Wooing the workers

And the world is coming to woo them.

Delegates from Britain, the United States and Japan went on a charm offensive at the IT exhibtion in Bangalore.

Patricia Hewitt: UK open to IT workers
Patricia Hewitt: UK open to IT workers
Britain's e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt was keen to spell out what the UK had to offer. Moreover, she said, it has never been easier to move to Britain.

"Of course we've relaxed our immigration laws. We want to make it clear that Indians are welcome in Britain," she told delegates.

The IT skills shortage has taken the world by surprise, and a loosening of the rules has been universal.

In Britain it is now easier for people with certain skills to emigrate or start up businesses.

In America the number of visas for foreign IT workers has been raised to 200,000 a year. And Germany too is offering thousands of new visas.

India's plan

The seeds of India's success lie in the post-Independence creation of a network of high-quality technical colleges.

A few years back many graduates went abroad. But for this year's batch of students the West's charm is beginning to fade.

Many foreign companies are listening - companies like Backend, part of a British digital communications company.

It has moved its whole technical services operation to Bangalore rather than trying to get Indian programmers to move to Britain.

"A lot of people are trying to get an Indian skills base in the UK. But if you look around India you'll realise that Indian people now have reason to stay here," said Backend's Gary Lockton.

Relaxing the immigration laws has made it easier for people to move from here to the West.

But the irony is that many Indians are now coming back. And if western companies want skilled IT workers, they're going to have to move here too.

Rebecca Pike reports
"The seeds of India's success lie in the post-Independence creation of a network of high-quality technical colleges."
See also:

11 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Green card 'may solve skills shortage'
21 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Migrants 'benefit UK economy'
01 Oct 00 | Business
Work permit laws relaxed
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