An influential government committee is to launch an inquiry into the exodus of IT and call centre jobs from the UK to countries such as India.
The inquiry by the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee is also expected to examine the failure of the IT industry to deliver as many jobs as had been expected back in the boom years of the 1990s.
A spokesman for the trade and industry select committee said that it was likely to decide the scope of an inquiry when it reconvenes next month for the new parliamentary session.
Unions representing IT staff, which have campaigned against offshore outsourcing, welcomed the news of the inquiry but questioned how useful it would be in safeguarding UK jobs.
"We welcome the inquiry as it’s what we have called for," said Keith Brookes, national secretary of banking union Unifi. "However, we should not rely on an inquiry. They take time and IT jobs are being transferred overseas now."
Growing numbers of UK companies, including BT, supermarket chain Somerfield and Honda UK, are moving IT systems and call centres offshore to cut costs by using cheap, highly skilled labour in countries such as India.
Analyst firm Gartner has predicted that the European market for offshore outsourcing will grow by more than 40% this year, while Ovum Holway has predicted that up to 25,000 UK IT job will go in the next four years through offshore deals. Most job losses to offshore outsourcing so far have been in call centres but UK IT leaders warn that more senior staff will be at risk in the future.
Last week Computerweekly.com revealed that Barclays is considering a major outsourcing deal which could see key parts of the bank's IT operations move offshore and affect up to 1,700 UK jobs.
The bank is discussing with suppliers the possibility of outsourcing its "Build Services", the application development section of the Barclays Group IT department.
Analysts estimated that the deal could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds over the lifetime of the contract.