Who speaks for UK developers?

It is an old adage that if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, but a useful one in many endeavours. So it is with outsourcing and offshoring. There are benefits and there are drawbacks. I think any rational examination of the facts can identify a postive side of offshoring your team , and a postive side to using an on-site team.

Which leads me to my concern. While it is easy to find consutlancies or companies, or lobby groups (who often stand to gain financially from helping ther clients to offshore) promoting the benefits of outsourcing,  it is harder to find anyone promoting the services of UK developers and the benefits to companies to keeping jobs onshore.

Surely the government, our government, should be promoting UK software developers and companies? Surely the DTI should be stepping up to the plate to promote Briitsh Industry? There is a debate here and both sides should be heard. So how about sellling the effectiveness of the UK IT workforce, and the benefits of keeping work onshore?  In fact, conversly, the UK government is keen to promote using offshored workers over UK workers. Malcolm McKinnon, head of trade in services and offshoring policy co-ordinator at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in fact wants UK business to embrace offshoring. Malcom loves being quoted on the benefits of offshoring. Personally, I feel Malcolm should try to give UK business a more balanced picture of the pros and cons.

McKinnon says that offshoring is unlikely to become a political issue here in the UK elections, as it did in the US. Maybe we should make Malcolm more aware of his failure to support UK industry, he seems blissfully unaware of any concern?  You can reach Malcolm at malcolm.mckinnon@eirv.dti.gov.uk if you would like to express your concerns to him. He is after all a member of our government and I am sure will be happy to take on the challenge of representing UK business. Perhaps he will want to level the economic playing field by addressing the VAT issue too.

So how about the CBI. Perhaps they are promoting the onshore benefits. I’m afraid not. Digby Jones feels that offshoring is a ‘matter of survival for UK industry’. So the CBI is also actively promoting foreign over domestic IT. In fact he claims businesses that keep IT in the UK are ‘naive’. So he is hardly a good choice to market the case for keeping work at home.

So what about the unions then? Well I’m not a member nor our most people I know in the industry. My concern is that the union’s tend want to push a protectionist stance coupled with threats to strike. Sadly tactics like this just weaken the UK workers position. Surely what we want is more valid debate on the benefits of onshore workers, not 1970’s activism. We need a slick marketing campaign, not picket lines.

I don’t think that the BCS is really helping us either. Their position does try to put both sides of the equation, but their responseseems to be to suggest that the UK workforce invest needs more training. Admirable that may be, and it has been a fairly constant line from the BCS, but what we want is someone to take leadership in marketing the services of UK IT professionals.

The Professional Contractors Group seems to be a more active lobby group for their members concerns – good for them – unfortunately they cannot represent all UK IT workers, as a result of their focus on freelancers. In addition what we need is a body that can the marketing of onshore workers benefits to UK business and I see the PCG as a lobby group. 

So I ask again who is promoting UK IT workers?




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