Despite UK companies reverting back to outsourcing call centre operations abroad, most customer facing roles are likely to remain in the UK, according to Mark Conway, director at Contact Centre Partners.
The latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)/KPMG Labour Market Outlook shows that nearly one in 10 (9%) private sector companies plan to offshore jobs in the 12 months to June 2011. Of those planning to offshore UK jobs, 65% intend to offshore to India, a third to China (36%) and to Eastern Europe (29%). The most common functions outsourced by employers include call centres (55%), IT (51%), and finance (49%).
Conway told Recruiter that while there has been a trend over the past five or six years for UK companies to bring back call centre operations to the UK, firms have moved back office roles overseas.
“Most of the companies that we deal with are looking to keep customer service staff in the UK, but they do tend to move back office processing functions or non-customer facing roles overseas. Some clients have moved roles where customers interact through text chat to cut costs.
“We do have a number of clients that have operations overseas, and people will always outsource to save on costs but most large organisations keep their staff in the UK wherever possible because there is a significant increase in the level of service provided by those call centres based here in the UK.”
The CIPD/KPMG report also shows that 45% of the 600 employers surveyed say that vacancies are hard to fill, with 21%, saying they are recruiting migrant workers for engineering vacancies, and 18% for IT and accountancy/finance positions respectively.
Consequently, 17% intend to recruit migrant workers in Q3 2010. In the past quarter, 21% of employers surveyed recruited migrant workers with 37% of these workers being hired from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser and author of the report, says: “The study highlights the complex juggling act the government now faces. The proposed introduction of a migration cap comes at a time when many employers are still struggling to fill skilled vacancies; despite the high unemployment rate.
“The training of local or British workers to fill skilled jobs currently occupied by migrant workers will not happen overnight. And despite our efforts to educate and train staff for shortage occupations, there is no guarantee that they will go on to progress in that career; as we have found with engineers.
“If a cap is to be introduced therefore, it has to be gradually phased in to avoid harming UK competitiveness. Employers running global operations will be forced to offshore skilled jobs to other countries if the right skills mix in the UK cannot be found.”
Malcolm Edge, KPMG UK head of markets, adds: “Our own research shows that UK businesses are increasingly optimistic about their prospects. In moving forward, businesses need the right people with the right skills. Increasingly, they are looking overseas to address this skills gap recruiting people to the UK or deciding to offshore both work and jobs. If the Coalition government do decide to introduce a cap, they will need to work closely with business to ensure that there is a correct balance between investment here in the UK and abroad.”