Barclays shifting major call centre work to India

Tuesday, 30 December 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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LONDON: British bank major Barclays is reportedly set to be the next big institution to move call centre jobs abroad - nearly 5,000 of them, mainly to India.

The move will involve transferring about half the bank's call centre activities.

The most likely destination for the outsourced Barclays call centre is India although it is understood that South Africa may also have been considered as an option.

"Barclays is moving part of its call centre operations offshore and as many as 5,000 jobs could be involved," the Evening Standard quoted a source as saying.

However, a spokeswoman for Barclays, which is headed by chief executive Matt Barrett, denied such a plan was imminent. "We have no precise plans at this moment in time," she said.

However, she refused to rule it out for the future: "Off-shoring is something everyone is looking into at the moment. It is a very complex issue," she said.

Reports say British companies have been slower than their American counterparts to take advantage of the lower costs that call centres in the developing world can give.

Less than 15 percent of top British companies have taken the plunge so far, against 35 percent of leading US firms.

As many as 50,000 British jobs have been transferred to Indian centres in the past two years.

The industry, which still employs nearly 600,000 people in Britain, is expected to shed 100,000 more jobs in the next five years.

Reports say the transfer of call centre jobs to India, South Africa, Eastern Europe or the Philippines may backfire on British companies.

Such moves have been sparking concern in sections of the government and for bank customers, who worry about security.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has ordered an independent study of the phenomenon. The study starts in January and is expected to last three months.

Hewitt, however, believes concerns that the British call centre industry is in terminal decline are misplaced.

Source: IANS
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