According to a succession of Labour and Tory ministers, Britain can afford to get rid of its “dirty” industrial base through the closure of mines, steel works and shipyards because opportunities in high-tech industries, such as information technology (IT) will be developed to replace them.
This, like so much mindless drivel spouted by the grossly over-remunerated Westminster politicians, is demonstrable nonsense.
Take Britain's failing IT industry as an example. Home-grown computer professionals find it hard to hang onto jobs in an industry racked by downsizing, cost-cutting and redundancy, while relatively cheap IT “experts” from abroad on short-term contracts have flooded in to replace them.
This is bad news for skilled Brits and those studying IT at university, hopeful of rewarding careers in the industry.
One might imagine that the Government, mindful of these matters, would be pressuring employers to adopt an “employ Britons first” policy or at the very least ensure that government IT contracts went to British companies employing British workers.
Nothing could be further from Government thinking. According to a recent article in Computing magazine, Gartner research director Massimiliano Claps said the government is “likely to want to shave at least £500m from its IT budget by using technologies such as shared services, increased automation and the G-Cloud. ‘The new government’s ICT strategy looks very much like that of the old one in these respects,’ he said.
“Claps said the new government is also likely to continue Labour’s strategy of saving money through offshoring. The last government signed several big offshoring contracts in the months before the election, including a £600m deal between the Department for Work and Pensions and India’s Tata Consultancy Services for management of its pension scheme,” continued Computing.
The magazine added that in the short term, services such as application development and testing are most likely to be offshored” even though “there is some resistance to offshoring business services and call centres” but that this is “likely to change over the next 12 to 18 months as people become more used to the idea.”
The awarding of the Government's pension contract to India's Tata Corporation came just months after Tata's steel division announced the mothballing of their huge former Corus/British Steel plant at Redcar, with the loss of 1,500 local jobs.
Perhaps the Government will also now reward Tata with the contract to maintain their Job Seekers Allowance administration systems.
Footnote: It is reported that Tata are in negotiation to sell their largely redundant Redcar plant to SSI — a Thai-owned industrial group.
The “sticking point” appears to be just how much cash the British government will stump up in the form of “grants” to entice the Thais to conclude the deal.