French firm has been awarded public funding support totalling £5.25 million
French IT outsourcing and services giant Capgemini has announced plans to create 500 new jobs in Inverness over the next three years.
Capgemini, which currently employs around 500 people in Inverness, says it will double its workforce in the city by 2016.
Its existing Inverness operation manages specialist call centre support functions for NHS Scotland, Fife Council, ScottishPower, Subsea7 and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The latest jobs announcement will boost Capgemini’s specialist IT support offering in Scotland which will see the firm also move to new offices in Inverness.
The company, which posted revenues of more than €10.2 billion last year and operating profits of €787 million, has been awarded a total of £5.25 million in public funding from the Scottish Government to bring the new IT specialist call centre jobs to Inverness.
Scottish Development International has pledged £4.25 million in Regional Selective Assistance funding and Highlands & Islands Enterprise a further £1 million in training grants.
The company was recently awarded contracts from NHS Scotland – alongside BT – worth £100 million to deliver and support a new customer relationship management (CRM) system for the NHS 24 clinical assessment service over the next 10 years.
NHS 24 confirmed earlier in the month Capgemini and BT had secured the two-part contract, which includes break clauses after seven years.
The first part, worth £70 million, was awarded to BT to provide patient contact infrastructure and applications, and the second part, worth £30 million, went to Capgemini.
NHS 24 awarded Capgemini the support contract despite being the focus of a 2006 Audit Scotland report which outlined the firm has been paid £14.2 million in management consultancy fees for what turned out to be badly flawed advice in its work setting up NHS 24.
The consultancy fees, amassed between 2001 and 2006, were part of a total £17.5 million paid out by NHS 24 to private management consultants in that five-year period.
Capgemini had created the original blueprint design for the “NHS 24 project” which was plagued by problems when first launched in 2004.
Audit Scotland found the company had severely underestimated demand when NHS 24 was first launched, which had led to lengthy patient delays and, in some cases, patients receiving the wrong information.
The 2006 Audit Scotland investigation also established a senior NHS 24 employee – its then head of IT – had failed to register personal interests in Capgemini, though the firm denied the employee or his spouse, who worked for Capgemini, were directly involved in contract negotiations.
Audit Scotland also found NHS 24 had extended contracts with Capgemini on three occasions without opening the contracts back up to competitive bids, and found one contract had risen in value from £850,000 to £4.1 million as a result.
The new Inverness jobs announcement is reported to have been provisionally agreed at a meeting between the First Minister Alex Salmond and Capgemini’s UK chief Paul Soutter at the Scottish Open in Inverness nine months ago.
Commenting on the jobs announcement today, Salmond said: “Capgemini’s announcement that they are creating 500 new jobs in Inverness and thus doubling their workforce here in the Highlands is fantastic news.
“Even in the increasingly vibrant city of Inverness, the economic impact of this employment boost cannot be over-estimated.
“They are a multinational employer conducting business all over the world and the company’s decision to make Inverness one of their global centres of excellence for advanced IT is therefore a ringing endorsement of the Highland capital.”
He added: “This announcement serves to reinforce the strength of Scotland’s IT sector, which already employs more than 100,000 people across the country.
“It is good news for Inverness, good news for the Highlands and good news for the Scottish economy.”
Paul Soutter, chief executive of Capgemini Infrastructure Services UK, said: “Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to creating high quality, sustainable employment, and not least for college graduates.
“We have long found Scotland to be a purposeful, dynamic and productive environment for business, so that by significantly expanding our activities here, we are building upon a strong record of proven success.
“The new jobs we are creating in the Highlands will be at the heart of today’s knowledge-based economy and will help prove Scotland’s ability to compete and win in global markets.”
Drew Hendry, leader of the Highland Council, said the jobs announcement was a “major boost to the local economy”.
He added: “The Highland Council’s programme places economic recovery as its number one priority and this is a further sign that Inverness and the Highlands can play a key role in attracting inward investment to Scotland.
“We look forward to working with Capgemini to assist their recruitment process and provide opportunities for our young people in particular.”
Paris-based Capgemini currently operates across 48 countries and employs around 120,000 people.