Survey finds increasing uncertainty over offshoring

Despite lack of evidence that offshore outsourcing is taking jobs out of Europe, IT workers polled by Silicon.com take another view.

Offshoring is viewed with increasing ambivalence in the IT industry, according to the exclusive 2007 Skills Survey from CNET News.com sister site Silicon.com.

A third of respondents to the survey agree or strongly agree with the statement "I feel that offshoring is a threat to my current job"--a very slight increase on last year's result, when 32 percent feared that their job could be sent abroad.

At the same time, the number of people who don't view offshoring as a threat dropped to 41 percent, from 44 percent last year.

The proportion who aren't sure whether offshoring is a threat stands at 23 percent--a rise of six percentage points on 2004's figure, suggesting increasing ambivalence about the impact that offshoring is having on U.K. tech jobs.

A recent report by not-for-profit research organization The Work Foundation found little direct evidence of significant job migration due to offshoring in Europe, yet public opinion often runs counter to that.

A recent Silicon.com reader comment typifies the fears generated by offshoring. "If (offshoring) keeps up, we won't have an IT industry in this country, as the only people working in IT will be non-technically literate managers," reader Karen Challinor wrote.

However, according to The Work Foundation report, Indian workers don't see things that way. "Indian business insiders see future offshore outsourcing as an advantage for Europe, enabling it to focus on the 'thinking part of the job,' providing opportunities for 'better jobs' and 'knowledge work' in Europe," the report said.

When it comes to specific job roles, rank-and-file IT workers have the biggest fears about offshoring. More than two-fifths of software and Web developers responding to the Skills Survey agree or strongly agree that offshoring is a threat to them, while two-fifths of IT pros feel the same way.

This compares with less than a third of CIOs, and just over a third of board-level executives and IT managers.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of survey respondents agree or strongly agree that IT jobs that involve business skills are less likely to be outsourced offshore than jobs involving only technical skills.

Natasha Lomas of Silicon.com reported from London.

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