Although the initial number of Indian staff employed is likely to be in the low hundreds, Abbey has the option of increasing this to cope with spikes in demand for IT development work. Indian staff will be employed both offshore and in the UK.
"In the past two years we have had Indian companies supplying contract staff for development and in addition we are looking at supplementary Indian IT contractors to support business growth," said Bill Gibbons, director of technology services and support at the bank. "The contractors are plugging skills gaps in one or two development layers and databases."
Gibbons said Abbey's increased reliance on Indian contractors was not a threat to the jobs of UK IT staff, and added that his department had a "very full order book".
Abbey has placed increasing amounts of IT work with Indian suppliers. In 2002, the bank signed an outsourcing deal with Infotech under which staff at its software development centre in Bangalore will help the bank deliver large-scale IT projects.
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The World Bank has handed Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) much of the work previously carried out by the troubled Indian IT services company, Satyam.