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Just under three quarters (73%) of UK outsourcing service providers said they want the UK to remain in a reformed EU, according to a survey.
The findings of the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) questionnaire revealed that 35% of those that want to stay in the EU think doing so will protect outsourcing trade relationships.
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Meanwhile those that want to leave (27%) said they only wanted those elected by the British people to govern.
The status quo certainly can’t continue according to the survey. Over a third (34%) think a better deal with the EU can be secured, while 31% think the deal David Cameron got is sufficient. But 17% don’t think a deal can be secured that will justify Britain’s EU membership.
“The views of the NOA membership reflect those of Britain’s outsourcing industry as a whole, the same views held by the C-suite at the likes of BT, HSBC, IBM, Serco and Unilever,” said Kerry Hallard, CEO of the NOA. “We’re all for keeping Britain in a reformed EU, where we can continue to have influence and be seen globally as a key player – ‘Brexit’ would certainly diminish Britain’s appeal on the world stage.”
She said leaving the EU would diminish the UK’s role in the global business services industry. “I was in India just a few weeks ago and had many conversations on this subject with key Indian players. They want and expect the UK to stay part of the EU,” she said.
EU migration chokes off skills
Hallard also took the opportunity to criticise government plans to cap the number of Indian workers coming to the UK. She said the fact that migration is open in the EU – with no skill level requirements – is having a negative effect on attitudes to migrants from elsewhere.
The UK government wants to reduce the number of workers coming into the UK from outside Europe, which could result in a major cut in the number of Indian IT workers in the UK working on outsourcing projects.
A proposed increase in the minimum salary paid to staff brought to the UK by overseas suppliers – which could make it a less attractive option – will be fast-tracked by the government.
IT workers brought to the UK to work on contracts from overseas – from India in particular – use intra-company transfer (ICT) visas, part of the Tier 2 skilled worker category, to work in the UK. This route means that, if the offshore parent company has a UK presence, it can bring workers to the UK for limited periods of time.
IT staff from India comprise a substantial proportion of such migrants.
She described the government’s current plan as “knee jerk”.
“It is wrong that the UK is restricting access to the skilled labour we so desperately need access to in order to grow, because we have no control over the mass unskilled migration [from within EU] we are suffering," Hallard said.