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Punting jobs overseas to countries such as India could "significantly boost" the UK's economic growth, according to a report out today.

The Impact of Global Sourcing on the UK Economy 2003-10, commissioned by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), an umbrella organisation for IT software and service organisations in India, estimates that by 2010 the UK could face a shortfall of 700,000 jobs as a result of an aging population and slow population growth.

If the problem isn't addressed it reckons that economic growth in the UK could slow, leading to a loss of £113 billion. Outsourcing would not only bridge that gap, it would also help generate extra income.

For the report claims that for every £100 of work outsourced offshore, up to £141 is re-invested directly back into the UK economy.

This upbeat assessment of the benefits of exporting jobs comes even though the report acknowledges that more than 250,000 UK jobs would be lost as a result of offshoring

But it argues that while the impact of offshoring on the UK workforce is "real" and "will lead to the displacement of workers", it insists that the UK labour market is flexible enough to deal with the problem.

Sunil Mehta, NASSCOM VP, said: "Technology allows companies to work with suppliers from all parts of the globe in way that was not possible in the past.

"Many companies from the UK and elsewhere are increasingly working with the Indian software and services industry to improve their performance in the global economy.

"This report demonstrates clearly that global sourcing offers major benefits to the UK
economy opens up new business opportunities."

Of course, there are those who disagree and, in particular, the protection of UK jobs has become an issue picked up by unions keen to look after the interests of their members.

For instance, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) continues to campaign against BT's plan to create 2,200 call centre jobs in India. While finance union, Unifi, is campaigning to stop HSBC, Lloyds TSB, and other finance companies sending work abroad.

According to research compiled by the CWU, some 50,000 jobs have been lost overseas by a number of companies including Abbey, Barclays, BT and HSBC, among others. ®

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