'British middleclass under threat from outsourcing'

Monday, 15 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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LONDON: First it was the unskilled working class, but now British outsourcing specialists say their middle class is under threat from the growing trend of job export to low-wage countries like India and China.

They are trashing the British government stand that the trend would only affect unskilled people - and skilled workers had nothing to worry - saying the job export would also affect professionals like accountants and lawyers.

"Middle England is under threat. The jobs that don't require face-to-face client relationships are most under threat," said Rick Simmonds of outsourcing advisers ALS Consulting.

The Daily Telegraph recently quoted Simmonds as saying that computer programming and design engineering were among jobs that did not require face-to-face interaction and were most vulnerable to be lost to low-cost production centres in India, China, Malaysia and Thailand.

"China's middle class has only been in existence for 10 years. In 10 years' time, they will be producing more pretty skilled and educated people," Simmonds said.

Already, British insurance and banking jobs have moved to India. Reuters moved corporate and editorial teams to Bangalore cutting jobs in the US, while consulting agency McKinsey established its global research department in Chennai.

Other corporate giants like General Electric have also set up research facilities in India.

Jobs of accountants who don't need face-to-face interaction with clients have also moved out, with British Petroleum leading by example. Accounts of the Financial Times are maintained in Manila.

Workers' unions in Britain are protesting the outsourcing process, but with profits as the bottom line, company managements have largely ignored them.

"The number of people taking engineering degrees in India and China will totally outnumber us very quickly," said Peter Gorle, managing director of consultants Metra Martech. He predicted that China would overtake the US in "value of manufacturing" in 10 years, but remain a low-cost producer for 30 years.

Source: IANS
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