June 25, 2021

‘We shall fight them on the beaches’…

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. When Churchill said those legendary words, who would have thought 60 yearslater the country would be once again fighting a shore-side battle to preventthe demise of the UK? But this time the battle is an industrial one: on-shoreversus off-shore. But is it really that severe or just another economic cyclethat will see the decline in one industry followed by the birth of another? Hot on the heels of BT, Abbey and Tesco, HSBC bank has announced plans toslash 4,000 UK jobs. Call centres in Sheffield, Birmingham, Brentwood andSwansea will close and jobs will be transferred to China, India and Malaysia.By the end of 2006, around 13 per cent of the total HSBC workforce will beemployed in Asia. The UK national rail enquiry line may soon be heading downthe same track. Amicus, to name but one employee body, is up in arms and are demanding thatthis ‘off-shoring’ practice be stopped. I was listening to one union officialon the radio who believed that consumers want to deal with somebody local andnot someone who is thousands of miles away. But is that true? As a consumer ofa service, am I really bothered as long as I get the service I need? If theoperator is in Scotland, Ireland or India – what’s the difference, neither oneis local and either could give a good or a bad service. I know that, when Iring the service desk for my home computer, that I often get Ireland or India.And to be honest, I don’t care. So if service is potentially not an issue then what about the UK job losses?This, of course, is a problem; and one about which we should all be concerned.But is the answer that we should resist progress, trying to compete withcountries that are still in deep poverty? My suggestion, if we are to retain our position as fourth or fifth in theworld economy, is to put our efforts into another avenue for our UK talent. Unemployment is at an all-time low and we continue to search overseas toattract professional talent such as doctor’s and nurses rather than populatingthe demand from within. So perhaps those who oppose these off-shoring plans, shouldfocus more on re-skilling those affected rather than wasting time trying toblock a commercial inevitability. Let’s concentrate our efforts on training ourworkforces in skills other than call centre operation and move them up thevalue chain. And finally, what impact does all this have on the HR profession? Can HR besent off-shore? There are many face-to-face roles in HR that will always require a localpresence, such as development, training and recruitment. And much HR advicewill need local legal and legislative knowledge. But let’s not kid ourselves.With the commercial pressures bestowed on all of us, HR administration, datamanagement and payroll must be delivered as efficiently as possible whetherin-house or through a service centre on-shore, near-shore or off-shore. By Alan Bailey, Head of business process outsourcing, Xchanging ‘We shall fight them on the beaches’…On 28 Oct 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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