An academic qualification in outsourcing is now available through the National Outsourcing Association (NOA).
The qualification has been in development for three years and is accredited by Middlesex University. It will enable businesses to benchmark skills and help them recruit and train individuals that will manage outsourcing contracts.
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Demand for outsourcing is growing and suppliers and users of outsourcing services want best practices guidelines.
According to Gartner, there will be £180bn worth of IT outsourced in Western Europe by 2011. In the UK, research firm Nelson Hall said there was $3.6bn worth of business processes outsourced overseas in 2007. It said this will grow 25% every year and reach $8.8bn in 2011.
Martyn Hart, chairman of the NOA, said businesses need to have the right skills in place to understand outsourcing as the practice becomes more common. "Until now, there has been no common best practice standard or benchmark for outsourcing and there is no way of recognising whether staff involved know their subject or not."
He said it will improve the process of buying outsourcing services and selection process and improve how suppliers and customers work together.
Duncan Aitchinson, head of Europe at sourcing consultancy TPI, said the ongoing management of outsourcing contracts is a challenge for businesses. "The whole area around service management and governance is still relatively young and these skills are still being developed so there is a shortage," he added.