How students can combine earning with learning through flexible business process sourcing: a proposition
2017-01-13T13:05:41Z (GMT) by
Research by the Centre for Global Sourcing and Services at Loughborough University has highlighted an emerging skills gap between the entry-level of those professional careers that form the bedrock of business support services within organisations and the ‘talent pipeline’ to senior roles such as business partner. The reconfiguration, re-engineering and relocation of many back and middle-office roles through business process outsourcing (BPO) and shared service centres (SSC) is causing a serious career entry problem, because the training 'nurseries', where the skills, knowledge and behaviours of a life-long professional career, are forged. At present this trend is largely under the media radar because the SSC operates within company boundaries and migration to offshore locations is generally both piecemeal and phased. Economic effects are also masked by a 'honeymoon' effect of lower costs for organisations but little resistance from displaced workers as they retire, receive redundancy compensation or leave through natural wastage when migration is phased. However, portents of the future are already manifesting: Indeed, typical student debt has now risen to around £50,000, graduate entry jobs are now falling (Association of Graduate Recruiters, 2016) and at the same time there is evidence emerging that the 'talent pipeline' into mid-level career roles such as business partners and data analysis experts is drying up. More positively, our report suggests that it should be attractive for organisations to employ undergraduates in ‘middle-office’ work on an Earn-to-Learn basis throughout the course of their degree programmes. The idea is to enable students to access quality work-based learning which will allow them to improve their work-readiness and graduate with lower debt, and perhaps near to debt-free especially where schemes are able to access graduate apprenticeship funding. There are significant advantages for a range of stakeholders. Universities have an opportunity to widen access by encouraging those potential students who may be put off by high graduation debt and thus, improve employability rates. Organisations will have access to a new, intelligent, flexible workforce, at an attractive cost relative to many offshore destinations, especially with the lower Sterling exchange rate. Moreover, there is the opportunity to rebuild the talent pipeline and contribute to Corporate Social Responsibility by helping young people to get a career start. For government and regional economies there is a chance to stem the outflow of good quality service work and build capability in new knowledge work by designing programmes for data analytics and robotic process automation solutions. Moving forward will require a partnership between organisations, universities, professional bodies and regional policy makers and each group must be flexible in its demands; there are rewards for all parties but nothing will be achieved without co-operation.