UK IT professionals must focus on "up-skilling" and retraining if they are successfully to survive the inexorable tide of offshoring, the British Computer Society (BCS) warned today.
According to a report by a BCS working party on offshoring chaired by Elizabeth Sparrow, a leading authority on the issue and author of a new book on global outsourcing, the growing trend to offshore IT skills means that at least 12 per cent of current UK IT jobs could be lost by 2010.
But the report claims that, although the offshoring market will continue to grow by 20 per cent year on year, the future for the British IT profession is far from bleak.
Retraining and internationally recognised qualifications have become key to confronting the globalisation of many traditional IT skills, the study stated.
The BCS pointed out that the British IT sector is currently faced with skills shortages in growing areas such as systems integration, project management and security technologies.
The report added that low unemployment rates among UK IT professionals, currently less than four per cent, is indicative of the buoyant state of the IT profession.
But the offshoring trend, developed on the back of improved telecoms and inexpensive bandwidth, means that the IT profession cannot afford to be complacent.
Sparrow said that the fast evolving IT services market opens up real opportunities for British IT professionals to work in new industries and to provide services from the UK to world markets.
However, she warned that the profession needs to review its performance in comparison with the best in the world.
BCS chief executive David Clarke added: "The challenge for British professionals now is to gear up for the rapid globalisation of the IT services industry that is well underway.
"Traditional IT skills, such as software development, have become globally ubiquitous and a narrow focus on technical skills and their application will not help tomorrow's professionals.
"But all too often, IT staff can underestimate their business knowledge and expertise. The ultimate aim is to create recognition of IT as a career in which longevity is valued and computing expertise is transferred into the business arena."
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