UK HR professionals face the prospect of being replaced by call centre staff in India and executives from other business functions as the sector undergoes seismic changes in the coming years.
A senior figure behind the move to India of scores of UK HR jobs at Lloyds TSB told Personnel Today that many more will follow.
And a Europe-wide survey has revealed that current HR professionals don't have the right skills to step into the new roles that will remain in the UK.
Staff in India begin working on transactional HR work for Lloyds TSB in New Delhi this week, as part of a five-year outsourcing deal with Xansa. The outsourcing provider runs business services from India for many big UK companies, and is set to take BBC finance and accounting services to the sub-continent.
David Leabeater, Xansa's business development director, said: "We are working on other HR deals at the moment. We have proved there is a massive opportunity to deliver benefits by offshoring. It is better value for the client and we can pay for much better, more motivated people in India."
According to Lloyds TSB's HR director Bernard O'Driscoll, the benefit of offshoring is leaving internal HR staff in the UK to focus on "business partnering".
But many consultants do not believe current HR professionals are up to this emerging role. More than half of the 195 executives that responded to an HR Outsourcing Association survey cited a lack of skills among existing HR staff as the main barrier to transforming the role.
Christian Adlung, director at consultancy Convergys, said: "Traditional HR departments are transactional and not used to thinking strategically. The task is to find the right people you can train in this area - or hire from outside."
'Line managers need us'
"This is a rather extreme view. The CIPD sees no evidence that the number working in HR is dwindling. If you look at the capability of an average line manager, HR will be in business for many years to come."
Assistant director-general, CIPD
"If you take the operational stuff out, there's the opportunity to create better quality jobs. What holds HR back from being strategic is the fact that managers still look for operational