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The enemy without

In the past, outsourcing has sent ripples of fear through businesses, “could it mean job losses”? Key research indicates that while concerns remain, there are also signs of greater acceptance. Richard Nott, Website Director at summarises the key findings.

The research we carried out demonstrated that within the IT sector, there is a sea change in how outsourcing is perceived by IT professionals in a business, with 51 percent stating they are unconcerned about their business outsourcing. The move to outsourcing business functions has previously been a contentious subject for workers, concerned it could cause struggles, such as job insecurity or a deficit of positions available. But, in IT, professionals now see it as a positive or neutral issue within the industry, with over half feeling reassured that this is now having a constructive impact (58 percent). The initial concern from professionals focused around problems such as job loss and income reduction, plus external issues were also a worry; such as the potential risks of data security privacy concerns, and loss of intellectual property. Outsourcing is also of concern to HR professionals, who felt this could cause an increase in staff turnover, potentially significant knowledge deficits, and the loss of team spirit, all leading to further issues in the motivation of employees. Also, whilst data has indicated that those already working within the IT industry see the minimal impact of outsourcing, professionals do believe that young talent may be being discouraged from investigating careers within the IT sector because of this, as young people from outside the sector are unclear on its impact. Over half of professionals, 54 percent, surveyed thought that this was a prominent issue that would discourage people from investigating careers within the impacted sectors. The IT industry, amongst other sectors, could benefit from clearly communicating the opportunities that can arise from outsourcing, alongside providing an accurate representation of its impact. To sustain the growth of industries, such as IT, it is essential they encourage young talented professionals to consider them as a career path; meaning industries must communicate the minimal impact outsourcing has truly had.

We compile a quarterly report on job listings within the UK that has indicated that over the period of 2011 to 2012, outsource vacancies have risen by 6.3 percent. The latest data also shows largely static permanent job figures, suggesting the industry still has plentiful opportunities available, and outsourcing has not had the extreme impact it was perceived to have had. Previously, few professionals knew what to expect from outsourcing, and the sustained levels of job postings has been coupled with professionals likely growing accustomed to the changes in outsourcing positions. Whilst still not an entirely neutral issue, outsourcing has certainly become more normal and professionals are substantially less fearful around the whole subject. News that professionals are now much more relaxed about outsourcing, despite 62 percent of professionals in the IT sector stating that they are seeing greater levels of outsourcing as businesses continue to make financial reductions across the board.

Outsourcing is likely to continue as a business norm, but data has shown this isn’t having the expected negative impact on vacancy postings. Jobs are still being outsourced, they will continue to exist within their new sectors, not impacting vacancies in their entirety. Professionals should stay abreast of changes within the sector in order to provide themselves with further job stability, ensuring they future-proof their roles. Indeed, professionals are already taking steps to do this. To investigate further, we directed a question to professionals working within the IT public sector about whether they felt they held transferable skills that could assist them should they change careers to work within the private sector. The majority said they would (87 percent), meaning professionals can be reassured that they are capable of fulfilling roles in other businesses functions and departments, should their position be outsourced. HR directors and departments should ensure that they work to reassure their workforces about the job security they still have, and the opportunities for new positions outsourcing can create, and the sector as a whole needs to ensure that instead of focusing on the negative impact of outsourcing, it works to communicate the positive impact it is having on the industry.

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