UK firms are taking advantage of the visa system to bring in cheaper IT workers and so displace trained UK sysadmins, according to the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCo).

Indians accounted for 85 percent of foreign IT workers moving to the UK this year, said the trade association for the technology industry.

The number of work permits available in IT in the UK increased from 12,726 in 2000 to 22,000 this year. Indians received the vast majority of those permits, with 18,248. The next largest group came from the US, with five percent of the IT work permits, ATSCo said. The association obtained the figures from the Home Office.

ATSCo claims there are plenty of IT workers in the UK that could do the jobs being filled by Indian workers, and recommended that companies look to train local workers if they don't have the exact skills needed. Software engineers and systems analysts are the two most popular types of Indian IT worker moving to the country, the association said.

The influx of Indian workers may be to blame for the decreasing number of students pursuing IT careers in the UK, according to ATSCo. Students may be deciding against IT because they see entry-level jobs being sent offshore and managerial positions being filled by workers from other countries such as India, it said.

A seasoned software programmer in India is paid $11,423 per year, ATSCo said, citing research from PayScale. ATSCo didn't offer any data on how much Indian IT workers are earning in the UK or how this might compare to wages paid to local workers.