| A call centre employee in Bangalore. Reuters file picture
London, Nov. 9: India could lose outsourcing jobs to Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries in eastern Europe, a survey of British firms disclosed at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry in Birmingham.
The confederation also issued a stark warning that a 'huge culture change' is needed in the UK to make sure youngsters are prepared for the world of work. Otherwise they would face a life of unemployment.
The survey constitutes the most serious analysis of the consequences of outsourcing done so far for British industry.
Fifty-one per cent of companies questioned admitted that pressure to offshore has increased over the past two years, with 21 per cent describing these pressures as 'very great'. Thirty per cent said they have already taken some activities overseas and almost one in four are considering doing so in future.
The findings show the trend now extends beyond manufacturing to areas such as information technology, financial services, design, research and development. The survey has been done by MORI, which undertakes opinion polls and market research on behalf of the confederation, and Alba, an electronic goods and power tool specialist.
Released to the leaders of British industry in Birmingham, the findings confirm that China and India remain the most popular offshore locations, each cited by around half of respondents. But firms see eastern Europe as an increasingly attractive alternative, with Poland and the Czech Republic the leading options.
Digby Jones, the confederation's director-general, said: 'Offshoring is now part-and-parcel of doing business in the global economy. Make no mistake, this is a survival issue. Anyone who believes that firms have a great deal of choice is naive.' He said: 'Companies know if they don't do it, somebody else will. If competitors act and they don't respond, they may put their business at risk.'
Jones went on: 'It is short-sighted simply to see all this as a bad thing. Globalisation was made for Britain. Offshoring means greater productivity and more efficient goods and services. It also means UK jobs will be of higher quality, more skilled and in many cases more secure.'
Spelling out the implications for Britain, he said: 'Globalisation means that jobs will come, jobs will go and nothing remains the same forever. The challenge is to create more jobs than we lose ' which we are doing ' and to ensure people have the skills to take advantage of them.'
Jones added: 'We think there will not be any work for unskilled people in a few years' time. Ensuring that people have the skills remains a problem in this country.' He said the UK has 'nothing to fear' from offshoring as long as people constantly upgrade their skills.
Bank jobs in India
Lloyds TSB, a leading British bank, plans to offshore 2,000 to 2,500 jobs to India by the end of next year.