HR stands between British industry and jobs being exported to emerging
countries, and its not just the low-skilled jobs that are at risk.
Speaking at the Global Human Resource Management Conference in Seville,
Spain, Vance Kearney, vice-president of HR EMEA at communications specialist
Oracle, said that presuming only jobs perceived as low skill and low value
could be exported to countries such as India, was a big mistake.
Citing examples such as General Electric, which is already designing and
developing trains in India, he said HR must ensure that British staff are able
to offer sufficient value to overcome huge pay disparities between countries.
At present India creates 10 times more graduates a year than the UK, at only
25 per cent of the cost, Kearney said.
This could create a situation where India and other countries would be able
to provide the same service as many companies in the UK, but at a fraction of
the price, he argued.
Drivers to outsourcing and off-shoring include punishing severance costs in
the West, employee-centric courts, expensive corporate taxes and a pensions
time bomb, Kearney said.
"There is a serious competitive threat to major Western European
countries and the US as other countries move up the value chain.
"If we cannot compete on price, we have to improve our skills and
quality," he said. "To be very high cost, we have to be very high
HR now has to take the lead in the drive for increasing standards in
selection, training and development, and promotion, he said.
Kearney highlighted the extent of the threat with an Indian website, which
offers services including market research, banking and finance, and animation,
as well as HR services.
"The end of the day, if something is crap and expensive, it might as
well be crap and cheap," he said.
By Michael Millar in seville