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Offshoring threat downplayed for U.K. call centers

As in the United States, many in the tech sector are tuned to the trend of moving jobs overseas.

The U.K. call center industry is still set to see strong growth over the next few years, despite hype about the impact of offshoring, according to new research.

A report by analyst firm ContactBabel predicts a gain of more than 150,000 jobs over the next three years, bringing the total U.K. call center work force to more than 1 million--though that does represent a drop in the growth rate of recent years. U.K. call centers currently employ 850,000 people.

The growth, however, will not be across all sectors. Offshoring--the shipping of jobs overseas--will hit the finance, telecommunications and utilities sectors, where there will actually be a decline, with a net loss of 5,000 jobs. But contact centers in IT, retail, outsourcing and the public sector are set for strong growth, according to the report.

Steve Morell, principal analyst at ContactBabel, said in the report: "In the long term, offshoring will become an accepted part of the customer service mix for some businesses, especially those with many thousands of contact center workers. The most likely scenario is that most companies will keep the majority of their contact center work within the U.K."

Andy McCue of reported from London.