Prime minister David Cameron told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he wants British companies to bring offshored jobs back to the UK.
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“In recent years there has been a practice of offshoring, where companies move production facilities to low-cost countries. We’ve all seen it. We all know it’s true. And it will continue,” said Cameron.
“But there is now an opportunity for the reverse – there is now an opportunity for some of those jobs to come back,” he added.
The government is launching an advisory service for businesses trying to do this.
“I think there is a chance for Britain to become the 'reshore nation',” Cameron said at the World Economic Forum.
He said the efforts by UK Trade and Investment to help UK companies export and attract foreign investment will be matched.
“Now I want to give that same dedicated, specific support to helping businesses reshore. So we are setting up a one stop shop to help businesses capitalise on the opportunities of reshoring,” said Cameron.
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He quoted a survey of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that found more than one in 10 has brought back to Britain some production in the past year.
Cameron made no direct reference to IT jobs, which make up a massive proportion of UK jobs completed offshore or by offshore staff brought to the UK on Intra Company Transfers (ICTs).
Businesses are attracted to the lower cost of receiving services from offshore companies, and this often involves staff from offshore locations coming to the UK for a few years at a time. ICTs are where staff of overseas companies with UK operations can enter the UK.
Labour said if it wins the next election, offshore services firms would be forced to create an apprenticeship in the UK for every worker hired to increase job opportunities for young people.
“[The rules] will require every firm hiring a migrant worker from outside the EU to offer an apprenticeship in return. We will use procurement rules to ensure that large firms given government contracts offer apprenticeships," said shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant.
Cameron said costs are going up in developing countries, which makes the economics of reshoring more attractive.
“Part of the story is about rising costs in the emerging markets, a natural consequence of these economies developing and their people becoming wealthier," he said. "Senior pay in China now matches or exceeds pay in America and Europe, while rising oil prices and complex supply chains are increasing transport costs too.”