The wheel is coming full circle? Looks like. The reputation of Indians as computer whizzkids has received further boost with an advertisement in UK saying Indians are preferred. But the job ad has kicked up a storm.
The ad on www.jobsite.co.uk read: "Minimum six years of experience in IT... The person should be a UK citizen with security clearance from the UK Government. Preferably of Indian origin." It was for a Bristol-based job, carrying a salary of £38,000.
AdvertisementWelsh MP David Davies fumed, "I'm outraged by this advert. It is quite clearly racist, in my opinion. I have reported it to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the hope for once that they might take action against something that discriminates against most British people."
Mr Davies said: "I call on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to show some resolute action in dealing with cases of anti-British discrimination."
IT consultant Vince Silva, who alerted the MP to the advert, said: "I have never seen a recruitment advert like this before, and think it is appalling that job applicants could be discriminated against in this way.
"It raises a wider question about the way in which some big companies in Britain are bringing in IT workers from abroad instead of recruiting them here.
"Both the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly Government are investing a lot in educating young people in IT skills at schools and colleges. Yet the number of job opportunities are limited because big firms are choosing to recruit trained workers from countries like India. We all know that times are tough in the recession, and surely we should be doing more to help our own people.
"I'm not knocking the workers from India at all - they are highly skilled and can do a good job. It's the companies themselves that should examine what they're doing."
Mr Silva said he was also interested in whether a future Conservative government would insist that British firms and British workers would benefit from future public sector IT contracts.
"The Americans certainly engage in protectionism. Why shouldn't we?" he wondered.
The advert seeking was put on the website by a London-based recruitment company called McGregor Boyall Associates who swear by inclusiveness. Laurie Boyle, managing director of McGregor Boyall Associates, said: "This was an error - a bad one, but the first of its kind we have made in 22 years.
"It should not have been put up, and was cut and pasted from material sent to us by a client in India.
"We have immediately begun a review of all our systems to see what we can do to stop something like this happening. I shall be dealing with our consultant who made this error in the morning."
The recruitment consultant responsible for the advert, Farhaan Majid. told Western Mail, "This is a mistake. I put the advert through like this when I shouldn't have done. I shall now make sure it is taken down at once."
Asked how the error had been made, he said: "Some companies prefer to employ people of Indian origin because they are immediately available and don't mind moving. Often people in Britain living in Birmingham or London have mortgages and don't want to move."
He added the advert had been placed on behalf of an IT firm called Torry Harris, which has bases in Bristol and Bangalore, India.
A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority said it would refer a case of this kind to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
An EHRC spokesman said: "It is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant on the basis of their nationality/ethnic origin unless there are genuine occupational reasons to do so. We have already responded to Mr Davies and informed him that we will be looking into the matter."
The row follows concern about the recruitment policy of a meat processing firm in East Anglia that is insisting all staff speak Polish fluently.
Forza AW has effectively barred anyone but Poles from applying for jobs on its production line, claiming a knowledge of the language is necessary as all health and safety training is conducted in Polish.
A spokeswoman for jobsite.co.uk, which is owned by Associated Northcliffe Digital, part of the group that publishes the Daily Mail, said regular advertisers were allowed to upload advertisements onto the website themselves.
She said: "We take steps to ensure that only responsible advertisers can upload advertisements. We don't check the content of the adverts before they go up - that would be impractical for us and slow down the process of getting them online for potential applicants to see.
"Under the contract we have with advertisers, they take total responsibility for the contents."