Recent articles in the national press about offshoring would seem to suggest that someone, somewhere, is driving a public relations campaign to promote a trend which will see highly skilled and well-paid design, HR and IT jobs move abroad.
Independent think-tank the CSR Foundation has calculated that 18,000 jobs have been outsourced offshore since October 2003, costing 2.7bn in lost incomes to the UK economy.
Amicus predicts that 12,000 jobs will be exported by the end of 2005, bringing the total number of jobs offshored to places like India and South Africa to 30,000.
The economy cannot sustain this number of jobs and these types of skills going overseas. Falling house prices and slowing sales – reported by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors – coupled with higher inflation rates, are being compounded by a jobs market distorted by offshoring.
Present high levels of employment are masking the impact that offshoring has on an economy fuelled by those working in banking, insurance and call centre jobs. Any threat of recession would hugely curtail high street spending as growing numbers begin to save against an uncertain future, while struggling with levels of personal debt which reached 1,000bn in the UK for the first time in May 2004.
Amicus is calling for urgent action, both from the Government and employers, to fund the provision for skills, training and technology to help workers into higher value jobs and make the UK more competitive in global markets.
As a trade union we are not against offshoring. We believe UK companies have a duty to support emerging economies. But we are concerned about the trend for offshoring driven by a poor business case, which owes more to the vanity of chief executives and the avarice of greedy middle-men who stand to make millions of pounds.
The business community in the UK has a responsibility to rediscover the value of the call centre as a customer service proposition.
It is not just about handling enquiries as cheaply as possible – a quality call centre service should help to increase the use of a service and generate income. Offshoring of these jobs could prove to be a false economy.
If the trend to offshore continues unchecked our communities will be left high and dry. You cannot simply take 30,000 highly-skilled jobs out of the economy and pretend it will not make a difference. You have to put something back in.
Companies which are already making huge profits and expecting to cut costs further by going overseas have social responsibilities to the people they employ and everyone who is a stakeholder in the success of the business.
Assistant general secretary
Amicus is the UK’s largest manufacturing, technical and skilled persons’ union with 1.2 million members across all sectors.