Skills drought propels Qantas to outsource IT jobs

Board to make final decision in two weeks

Australian airline Qantas has blamed a drought in IT skills for outsourcing some 400 Australian-based information-technology related positions.

It is rumoured Tata Consulting Services and Satyam have been shortlisted by the airline for IT development, maintenance and support work.

A final decision will be made at a Qantas board meeting in two weeks.

A Qantas spokesperson said the main reason work is going overseas is because skills could not be found locally.

But Linda White, national secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU) said the move is about cost-cutting.

"What [Qantas is] trying to say is that it cannot source these skills at the right price and is not prepared to pay reasonable money," White said.

"This is an insult and people jump up and down about offshoring of aircraft maintenance, but IT is no less significant; the entire company runs on IT from ticketing to security and if that stuffs up, the airline has significant problems, no less than if there was some mechanical problem with a plane.

"Unfortunately companies have to offshore, learn from the mistakes and come back victims."

An ASU study of 501 Australians by McNair Ingenuity Research found 89 percent believe the Australian government should act to protect Australian workers from job loss if work is sent offshore; 85 percent believe the government should require all financial institutions to disclose whether they store customer information overseas.

A whopping 90 percent said they would choose a business that stored information locally.

The ASU is currently lobbying both the opposition and the federal government to tweak the existing Privacy Act to ensure companies inform customers if data processing is sent or held overseas. This is being proposed as "right to know" legislation.

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