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Reg Reader Studies With a UK general election widely expect to take place in May of this year, the political parties are casting around for ideas that might appeal to voters. What about that old chestnut – job security? It was an issue early on the US Presidential campaign last year, might it work over here?

According to readers of The Register the answer is “No”. Quocirca ran an online survey with The Register in December 2004 to which we had almost 6,000 responses. Over 90 per cent considered that their job could not be outsourced or that is only a remote possibility:

And Reg readers are likely to be doing jobs that could be outsourced. Half the respondents to the survey were working in the IT industry and the other half were working for end user organisations. Either way many of them are going to have been programmers, analysts, system engineers etc. – all jobs which might potentially be outsourced.

One reason they may be feeling secure is that where there is the possibility of shifting jobs overseas, UK companies are not actually taking advantage of this to the degree that many of us might imagine. A good example is software development. In the same survey we asked Reg readers how their organisation went about developing bespoke software:

Most software development is still done in house or partially outsourced. Only a very small number said that the work was definitely going overseas. Admittedly, there could be some hidden exporting of jobs here – other Quocirca research shows that some local outsourcers use overseas resources that their customers are unaware of.

No grounds for concern then? Not quite. Exporting of jobs does happen and it is going to become easier. We also asked Reg readers if they thought that the use of service orientated architectures (SOA) was likely to increase:

SOA makes using standard components, based on web services, easier. These components can be plugged into a businesses IT architecture when and where they are required. For example, a payroll system provided over the internet as a hosted service can be easily integrated with an internally-developed employee relationship management system, providing both are web service enabled.

This means that the best components can be more easily plugged in to business processes – be it a software application, or a human being on the end of a telephone or sitting in front of a web browser somewhere. If the human being is up to the job, it doesn’t matter where they are located.

So, the outsourcing of jobs is going to get easier and easier. By the time we reach the general election of 2009 or 2010, who knows how many posts will have permanently left these shores? In that case, the export of UK jobs may become a much hotter political potato.

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