Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Time for IT jobs to be set aside for women

January 27th, 2015

With women accounting for only a fraction of people studying computer science, there have been calls for gender-related quotas for IT roles.
With new figures showing little change in the number of women studying computer science, one industry expert is saying it’s time for radical new measures to address the problem.Outsourcing58

Gillian Arnold, head of the women’s section of UK professional computing body BCS, said from her personal point of view firms should be obliged to employ women in a proportion of IT-related roles.

Her comments follow figures showing only 3,125 women chose to study computer science-related subjects in the UK this academic year, compared with 2,925 the year before, according to university admissions organisation UCAS.

More than six times as many men chose to study computer science, with 20,460 undergraduates this year. The numbers of male computer science university students also grew faster, up from 18,785 the year before. The gender gap is similar in the US, with only 20 percent of computer science degrees earned by women.

Overall, however, women outnumbered men on two-thirds of degree courses, with 57,800 more women gaining higher education places through UCAS than men.

Arnold, chairwoman of BCSWomen and founder of an IT services company, said progress in addressing the shortfall has been slow, stressing initiatives to get women interested in technical roles had been taking place for decades.

“Collectively, all the woman’s groups I’m aware of have been doing this work since the mid-1990s, certainly. Think about the collective hours of effort that have gone into trying to encourage women to join these professions. That’s an enormous amount. We haven’t issued any quotas but maybe it’s time,” she said, stressing this was her personal opinion rather than that of BCSWomen.

“Where have we got role models who say, ‘It’s cool to be a technical woman?’. There are so very few of them. If we could fix that, I think that would be a huge change. Personally, I would like to see quotas but I recognise not everybody feels that way.”

Once a critical mass of women work in IT-related fields, the gap between the sexes could close naturally, she said.

“There’s an academic in the states, Virginia Valian, who said once you’ve got about 30 percent [of women in a type of role], it becomes a self-sustaining figure. You see the women then bringing other women into the workplace, and it becomes a more attractive field to work in,” she said.

Schemes such as e-skills UK Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) also have an important role to play, she said, in showing girls a side to IT beyond negative stereotypes.

“The TV image of someone in IT is The IT Crowd and that’s not brilliant is it? The other image is some geeky bloke in the middle of the night with a half-eaten pizza, who doesn’t appear to have washed in a month, so what girl aspires to be that?” she said.

Dr Sue Black, who served as a role model in the BCS women in IT campaign, agreed there is a need for more figures to inspire girls to join the IT industry, but believes progress is being made.

“It’s a shame that the numbers of people studying computer science are not going up dramatically and especially that the number of women is so low,” she said.

“On the plus side, the number of women is higher than it has been since 2007, so that shows a trend upwards which is good news.

“Everyone is gradually waking up to the fact that we need diversity at all levels of the tech industry if we want to compete in what is now a global marketplace.”

Despite the sluggish growth, she believes people are less resistant to schemes trying to encourage more women to work in IT than they once were.

“The attitude towards diversity has changed dramatically in the past few years. When I set up BCSWomen in 2001, an online network for women in tech, many people, men and women, complained to me that it was ridiculous and sexist having a group to support and encourage women in tech [asking], ‘What about the men?’.

“Thankfully, attitudes are changing and there are lots of necessary and valuable initiatives now, not just BCSWomen, encouraging and supporting women and girls in tech.

“The change in attitude and all these initiatives working together will make a difference, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. These things take time.”


Outsourcing nations turn hot for UK freelancers

October 7th, 2014

The number of UK freelancers selling their skills to clients based in countries regarded as outsourcing hubs, like India and China, has leapt by 234 per cent, an e-marketplace says.Outsourcing53

In the last year alone, the number of short term projects for firms based in East Asia, Eastern Europe, India, Pakistan and the Middle East has more than doubled, said PeoplePerHour.

Japan is the biggest end-client, as over the period there has been an eight-fold surge in the stock of UK freelancers registered with the website who have an invoiced a business there.

The last year also saw a four-fold increase in the number of UK freelancers invoicing businesses in India, and about a three-fold increase in the numbers invoicing firms in China.

Pointing to India, PeoplePerHour said the nation’s small businesses and start-ups were “booming,” explaining why such nascent firms were inwardly investing in their own growth.

This move by Indian entrepreneurs to expand their own businesses appears to be eclipsing their traditional focus – “offering support to help western businesses grow,” the site said.

But it explained: “For these businesses to grow, there is a greater need to find people with specialist skills; skills such as business planning, design and copywriting, that are in short supply amongst the local workforce.

“Now with greater financial support/investment behind them, businesses have the resources to look beyond the local labour market, and find global talent that matches their development needs.”

The sub-text is that firms in the East are turning to freelancers and micro businesses in the West because, while such European firms cannot compete on costs, they are skills-rich.

“This burgeoning freelance marketplace, which enables UK professionals with specialist skills to export their talents, could radically change the way businesses operate in the future,” said PeoplePerHour’s founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou.

He added: “Thanks to the evolution of the online marketplace, this pool of highly skilled freelance professionals are now in a position to sell their skills to businesses across the globe.”


Intelligent Office UK expands shared services offering in Glasgow

September 10th, 2014

Intelligent office UK, outsourced service provider of onshore business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions is planning to open its second onshore shared services centre in Glasgow.outsourcing42

The new centre will provide document production, document conversion and digital transcription services to law firms throughout the UK. It will also create over 100 full-time positions adding to its 700 work force.

Clients of Intelligent office UK include Stephenson Harwood, Wragge & Co, Bevan Brittan and Farrer & Co.


Home Office to pay sacked IT provider £224 million

August 22nd, 2014

The IT supplier, Raytheon Systems, sacked by the Home Office in 2010 for failing to meet targets, has been awarded £224 million.Outsourcing3

The amount consists of £50 million for damages, £9.6 million for disputed contract changes, £126 million for assets acquired through the contract and interest of £38 million.

It is reported that the eBorder programme was worth £750 million and when terminated is had cost the taxpayer £259.3 million including £195 million in supplier costs. The programme tracked passengers entering and leaving the UK, plus checked against police, security and immigration watch lists. According to Theresa May, it would have cost the government an extra £97 million had the contract not been terminated.


TCS’ Diligenta secures deal with UK-based Friends Life

August 20th, 2014

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)’s British business process outsourcing subsidiary, Diligenta, on Tuesday announced a new multi-million pound and a multi-year contract with UK-based Friends Life Management Services for its international operations.Outsourcing50

In a notification to the stock exchange, the country’s leading information technology services, consulting and business solutions company said Diligenta would configure and implement TCS BaNCS, a globally acclaimed core platform, to support the international operations of Friends Life—Friends Provident International.

However, financials of the deal were not disclosed by TCS.

With the help of TCS BaNCS platform, Friends Provident International will be able to deliver seamless services to its customers spread over Asia Pacific and West Asian region, said the notification.

“This new deal will enable us to streamline our systems, improve services to our customers and put us in a strong position to continue growing new business,” the notice quoted John Van Der Wielen, CEO International at Friends Life as saying.
Diligenta’s track record of successfully migrating over 6 million Life and Pensions policies on to our industry-leading platform solution TCS BaNCS, contributed directly to this win,” said Suresh Menon, CEO at Diligenta.

Friends Life is not a new client for Diligenta. In 2011, the TCS subsidiary had taken over the IT and customer services functions of the UK business of Friends Life for 15 years.

The deal worth $2.2 billion was one of the largest deals TCS had won through an organic route then.


Restructuring plans impact on outsourcing giants

August 15th, 2014

Two of the UK’s largest private sector outsourcing firms, Serco and G4S, have reported the effects of on-going restructuring plans.

Outsourcing giant Serco announced a pre-tax loss of £7.4m for first six months of 2014 on Tuesday (12 August), affected by “one-off” restructuring costs of £29.4m. The loss represents a 107% year-on-year decrease (2013: £106.1m).

Serco also reported “good progress” in strengthening its management team, with appointments including Angus Cockburn as CFO (as of October), Kevin Craven as CEO UK Central Government division (as of September), Liz Benison as CEO UK Europe Local & Regional Government division (as of September), and David Eveleigh as Group General Counsel and Company Secretary (as of November).

Rupert Soames, Group CEO of Serco, said: “As expected, trading was poor in the first half. Profits were in line with our revised expectations, and cash flow and net debt were better.

“We are making good progress with our Strategy Review, and in rebuilding trust and confidence with the UK government.

“Many challenges remain, and we have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that, in time, we can restore the company’s fortunes.”

In contrast, rival firm G4S today (14 August) posted pre-tax profits of £85m for the same period, up from a loss of £94m during the first six months of 2013.

The company has cited its “corporate renewal programme” and its performance within emerging markets for its financial turnaround.

Ashley Almanza, Group CEO of G4S, said: “The group made good progress and delivered a satisfactory financial performance in the first six months winning new contracts with a total value of £1.2 billion and producing a 13.2% increase in earnings.

“There remains much to be done to capture the full potential of our strategy and to strengthen the group’s performance.

“Demand for our services was robust, particularly in emerging markets. We are restructuring and rebuilding our businesses in UK & Ireland and in Europe. We have seen growth return to the North American market.”

Both firms are currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office after being issued bans on UK government contracts after a scandal over overcharging for criminal tagging services last year.

In April 2014, G4S was cleared to bid for government contracts again after it agreed to repay £109m.


UK manufacturers’ outsourcing spend grows 132%

August 13th, 2014

UK manufacturers spent 132% more on outsourcing contracts in the first half of this year (H12014) than they did in same period in 2013, according to new research.

In total, manufacturers agreed IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) deals worth £130 million during H12014, according to BPO provider arvato’s UK quarterly outsourcing index.

Arvato said that the number of outsourcing contracts concluded in the sector during the first six months of this year was up 50% compared to H12013 and that 66% of the deals agreed related to business functions that the manufacturers had never outsourced previously.

Manufacturing and outsourcing contract expert Jayne Hussey of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that manufacturers are looking towards outsourcing as part of a continuing drive to achieve efficiencies and, in some instances, are looking at outsourcing as an option to help them to meet in customer demand.

“The need to control costs and to satisfy the growth agenda is forcing manufacturers to review their processes and assess whether outsourcing can help them achieve efficiencies or alternatively react to a much more buoyant market where demand is outstripping capacity that the internal resource is able to deliver,” Hussey said.

“Increased demand and a more sophisticated approach by manufacturers is not only leading manufacturers to look at introducing new technology into their processes, but it can have a knock-on effect on back-office functions too. For example, manufacturers may have stripped back some of their in-house resources, such as payment processing teams, during the recession but now find that a fuller order book requires them to look to third party suppliers to supplement the in-house capacity they have or even assess whether they can achieve economies of scale by outsourcing that function completely,” she said.

Local government bodies spent on average 67% more on the outsourcing deals they agreed during H12014 than they did the previous year, with three quarters of all the contracts agreed during the first half of the year either extensions or renewals of existing arrangements or involved a change of supplier, arvato said.

The arvato data revealed that 34 outsourcing deals were agreed across all sectors in the second quarter of 2014 (Q22014) with a total value of £734m. In the first quarter of this year, 39 outsourcing contracts were signed and were worth £2.1 billion, arvato said. Of that figure, £1.5bn stemmed from public sector outsourcing contracts that were agreed between the beginning of January and end of March this year.

“A number of large individual deals meant that our index showed a bumper first quarter for the industry in terms of overall value, but the volume of new outsourcing activity has remained relatively constant,” Debra Maxwell, managing director of arvato UK, said. “Encouragingly, the number of first time contracts remained significant, which shows the continued popularity of outsourcing as a strategic solution, particularly in the private sector. As UK economic growth continues to gather pace, we expect outsourcing to do the same.”


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