Attitudes harden against offshoring

Nov 28 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Popular hostility towards offshoring and increasing economic globalisation is growing in the UK as a new survey finds that eight out of 10 Britons want to see a halt in jobs moving overseas.

Research from Deloitte and Touche found that a mere four per cent of Britons support the continuation of offshoring while a third believe that UK companies should be forced to bring jobs back to the UK.

Public attitudes towards offshoring have become more negative since the survey was initially conducted in January this year when 22 per cent of respondents thought UK companies should be forced to bring jobs back to the UK.

In January 29 per cent said they could see the advantages of offshoring, or even thought it was a good thing, compared with just 13 per cent now.

"There are clearly personal concerns over job security behind the negative attitudes to offshoring and our own insights suggests we can expect massive increase in the financial services sector alone," said David Owen, consulting partner at Deloitte.

"Growing awareness of the increased mobility of both resource and labour is causing anxiety with 17 per cent of respondents believing that offshoring presents a threat to their own jobs while a further 25 per cent think the increasing number of workers migrating to the UK is their biggest threat."

The survey also found that two-thirds of Britons believe that more investment is needed in skills and education for the UK to maintain current competitive economic position and more effort needs to be made to encourage small business start-ups and entrepreneurialism.

When asked which countries posed the biggest challenges to the UK economy over the next five years, the emerging economies of China (76 per cent) and India (48 per cent) came out top, followed by the US (34 per cent) and Japan (32 per cent).

But David Owen pointed out that all these economies have the potential to create major openings for UK companies.

"As the world's leading recipient of inward Foreign Direct Investment, the UK is experiencing a huge in-flow of companies from India and China, with a surge of listings over the past three years on both LSE and AIM," he said.

"Companies are investing in the UK because of its open door policy and the nexus of business and financial services around London which now offers the best breadth and depth of professional services skills sets and depth of international perspectives in the world.

"This is not to say the UK is without challenges, we still need to ensure that we are competitive from a tax and regulation perspective."

In other words, as Deloitte's John Kerr explained, such globalisation brings with it both opportunities as well as threats.

"The UK needs to be in a position to benefit from operations moving offshore, rather than be threatened by the increasingly global nature of the product and services markets and this is front of mind with our top business leaders."

But he added that if the UK is to thrive as a world leader in areas such as financial and professional services and media and technology, it needs a highly skilled workforce..

"We hear frequent warnings of future skill gaps in many of these sectors and this brings urgency to the need for the UK to identify the key areas of potential weakness for the UK and to take actions on issues such as learning and skills, training, regulation and their link with productivity."