Outsourcing of ICT and related services in the EU
The international migration of service employment in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector is growing, both between EU Member States and globally. Often referred to as ‘outsourcing’ or ‘offshoring’, this phenomenon has moved to the top of the policy agenda in recent times. It has also become the focus of significant media attention, with growing concerns that ICT-enabled relocation of work to the southern hemisphere could result in high unemployment in western Europe and the US.
Indeed, outsourcing is often considered to be driven exclusively by the search for ever-lower costs. In fact, the reality is more complex and different elements, including non-cost related factors, are among the driving forces for ICT service outsourcing, including the business function involved, company size and structure, and the specific situation in particular labour market segments and national or regional contexts. Nevertheless, current economic statistics do not provide reliable indicators of the scale or characteristics of ‘offshore outsourcing’.
In order to help fill this knowledge gap, the European Monitoring Centre on Change of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions embarked on an examination of available evidence on outsourcing of ICT and related services in the European Union. The report draws on a body of research carried out by the authors over more than two decades addressing ‘offshore information processing’, ‘trans-border teleworking’, ‘the new global division of labour in information services’ and a number of other pseudonyms for what is effectively the same phenomenon. It defines the scope of ‘offshore outsourcing’ of ICT services and other related services. The report also covers issues such as the distribution of ICT service employment in Europe, driving factors of ICT service outsourcing and current trends in offshore outsourcing.
The report in pdf format ( 617 kb) can be downloaded free of charge by clicking on the link below.
Given the lack of reliable statistical data on the phenomenon of ‘offshore outsourcing’ of ICT services and other ICT enabled services, this report provides a useful overview of information and data currently available, analysing it and putting it in perspective.