Defiant CIPD accused of ‘burying its head in sand’ over threat to HR jobs

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has insisted the threat to HR jobs from outsourcing is minimal, despite fresh warnings of a “slow and painful death” for the sector.

As experts lined up to predict an increase in HR offshoring, the CIPD stood firmly behind assistant director-general Duncan Brown’s assertion last week (Personnel Today, 14 November) that the HR profession really has little to worry about.

Ben Willmott, the CIPD’s employee relations adviser, pointed to a survey of its members, published at the start of the year, showing just 2% of the 589 respondents had offshored or were considering offshoring HR.

“This [figure] may expand, but there are also examples of companies closing Indian call centres and bringing business functions back to the UK,” said Willmott. “If you offshore HR, you have data security issues, language barriers and difficulties ensuring compliance with UK law.”

Last week, a senior director at outsourcing provider Xansa said there was a “massive opportunity” to take UK HR jobs to India.

And Marshall Potts, managing director of consultancy Jasper Associates, is currently lining up back-office outsourcing deals in the Czech Republic. “The UK is not finished with exploiting the benefits of outsourcing,” he said. “The motto [must be] change and survive, or experience a slow and painful death.

“If the CIPD sees no evidence that the numbers working in HR are dwindling, it is a worrying observation. I think it is burying its head in the sand.”

Alan Hopwood, an adviser at consultancy EquaTerra, said: “Certainly, HR work will move to India as more companies become comfortable with offshoring. As a generalisation, companies should decrease the number of HR staff onshore as a result of better processes, automation, more self-help and outsourcing.”

More than one in four respondents to Personnel Today’s news baro­meter fear their job will be offshored in the next five years.


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