Should I work for an offshore outsourcer?

Whether you work for an offshore outsourcer in the UK or elsewhere in the world, there are plenty of opportunities for IT professionals, providing you understand what is involved.

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Indian, American and East European outsourcers are increasingly evident in the UK and among many British IT professionals there is a fear of their jobs being ‘off-shored’.

But rather than fear this process or simply wait for it to happen, should IT professionals actively consider working directly for an offshore outsourcer?

For starters, if you are an IT consultant, or an IT manager dealing with multiple UK-based partners, you are likely to have valuable in-country expertise and contacts to offer an outsourcing services provider.

The big outsourcers are currently increasing their onshore recruitment and looking for British talent, particularly for consulting and customer-facing roles, that can help drive business, said Anthony Miller, managing partner at analyst firm TechMarketView.

“The reason the outsourcers, specifically the Indian ones, are recruiting in-country is that’s where they need the skills. They don’t have the time or the luxury to train consultants up. They want ones who are ready to run,” he explained.

Miller added that there is a finite pool of good British IT consultants, who they have gained their experience over many years and have a full contacts book, and these are valuable recruits for offshore outsourcers. In addition, having good consultants onboard enables them to “move up the value chain”.

This desire to be viewed as global IT services players, rather than just offshore outsourcers, is also a promising sign for UK IT professionals looking to move into the outsourcing industry.

The large Indian IT outsourcing firms in particular are continuing to build up their global brand recognition, with many ranking higher than ever before in the European IT services charts, according to Marianne Kolding, associate vice president of IDC's European Services Group.

IDC's 2009 top 50 global IT services firms operating in Western Europe featured several Indian outsourcers with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) ranking the highest at number 24, (or 22 excluding its business process outsourcing operations).

Wipro ranked at 28, Infosys at 31, HCL Technologies at 46 and Mahindra Satyam at 50.

Kolding said that these companies altered their recruitment strategy two or three years ago specifically to employ more indigenous workers in-country.

When the outsourcing phenomenon took off about eight to 10 years ago, they were focused on shipping in the expertise they needed from India to the UK, rotating them after 12 to 18 months to bring in the next batch of staff, said Kolding. “But it became clear that this wasn't a sustainable long term strategy.”

Frustrated British hires started to see a glass ceiling, and over the last few years, these companies built up their in-country senior management with British recruits, said Kolding.

Another recruitment model used, for example, by Indian outsourcing firm Infosys, was to recruit British university graduates and train them in India for entry-level software engineering jobs, before returning them to the UK. This enabled them to mould the graduates for the future, imbuing them with the culture of the company and its business processes.

In summer 2007, Infosys took its first group of 25 graduates to Mysore, India, for six months of software engineering and hands-on training before working for the company’s UK operations.

The recruits came from Universities including Cambridge, Bath, Nottingham, Surrey and UCL. However, this proved to be an expensive model, said Kolding. It is unclear whether Infosys continued the initiative, and the firm was unavailable for comment.

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