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November 23, 2005

IT staffing: onshore offshoring uncovered in the UK

Onshore offshoring is the name given in the US to the practice of hiring skilled but comparatively more affordable workers from overseas to work in the hiring country. The topic is clearly an emotive one. Indeed, it seems bad enough to some people to be sending work abroad instead of offering it to 'local' workers so it is a safe bet that the idea of bringing in labor will be even less palatable.

By CBR Staff Writer

A technology staffing group has found evidence of onshore offshoring in the UK.

In the UK, the issue has passed beyond being supposition, as evidence has been unearthed that proves the practice is occurring. The issue has been highlighted by The Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCo), which found that over 21,000 IT workers were given work permits allowing them to stay and work in the UK over the last 12 months. The statistics indicate that some 85% of these workers came from India, and also that, in recent years, the numbers of IT work permits being granted has sharply risen.

The situation being implied here is one for long-term concern because, if the IT profession continues to be undermined by what amounts to being cheap labor, career prospects and the future labor pool will be impacted badly.

Ann Swain, the CEO of ATSCo, has gone on record as saying, Is it any wonder so few students are choosing IT when entry-level jobs are being sent off-shore and workers are being brought in from overseas for managerial positions’.

Should we be surprised that business is taking such steps? Of course not – margins are margins and shareholders demand cost-effective performance, at the end of the day, and cost-effective options cannot be ignored. We must expect some businesses to explore the option of onshore offshoring in the UK, regardless of the potential social and economic impact this may have long-term – after all, it is the job of the government, not business, to regulate working opportunities and environments. An important step along this path is to identify and prove that there is a problem that requires legislation, and the evidence acquired by ATSCo is thought-provoking in this regard.

What is especially interesting about this whole business is how the information was actually obtained – ATSCo applied for the data underpinning the above findings through use of the Freedom of Information Act. This makes it worth considering how many other organizations will successfully ask pointed questions of government bodies, and how many more questionable business practices will be brought into the spotlight as a result.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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