Analyst predictions for the continued growth of offshoring suggest that hundreds of jobs that might at one time have been based in the UK will in future be found overseas in lower-wage economies.
We need to think about how the UK’s IT profession can best meet this challenge.
A BCS working party was established in 2004 to review the offshoring trend. The group analysed the profession’s competitive strengths; examined the competencies that would be required in the era of global sourcing; looked at ways of helping IT professionals displaced by offshoring; and considered how UK companies might benefit from offshoring. Six conclusions emerged:
- Offshoring is a reality of business and it will have a significant but not overwhelming impact on the IT profession
- Free trade benefits the UK economy overall, but it can disadvantage individuals, who may need support
- UK IT professionals can offer added value to businesses
- We need a new career model that combines technical savvy with interpersonal and business skills
- For companies, global sourcing will become a competitive differentiator
- Professionalism will be even more important in the future.
The working party’s report, published this month, focuses on the BCS activities that will help the UK IT profession meet the challenges of offshoring. It includes contributions from individuals who are carving out careers in a world of global sourcing, looks at how organisations are responding to globalisation, and sets out a seven-point action plan for the BCS:
- Promote professional standards
- Help employees develop successful careers
- Recruit and educate future generations of IT practitioners
- Influence and advise the government about IT issues
- Work with employers to help them make the most of IT staff
- Support innovation and celebrate excellence in IT
- Develop the BCS’ thought leadership role.
We live in an era of global sourcing. There is no going back – IT services have become a global industry. But the UK’s IT profession can offer value-added skills and has the potential to embrace the challenges of globalisation and exploit the opportunities that are created.
Elizabeth Sparrow is chair of the BCS working party on offshoring