Outsourcing skills is 'suicidal' say staff

<p>Educational and academic publishers are risking a major skills gap in 10 years because of an over-reliance on outsourcing to save costs. This was the consensus of publishing staff at a campaign meeting hosted by National Union of Journalists and Unite, the UK&#39;s biggest trade union.<br />The &quot;Stand Up for Quality in Academic and Educational Publishing&quot; meeting was attended by more than 70 editors, designers and production staff from a range of companies including Elsevier, OUP, Pearson Education, Macmillan Education, Wiley and Taylor &amp; Francis. </p><p>Dona Velluti, editor of interactive educational materials at a major education publisher, said: &quot;The business model most publishers are using now&mdash;with an inhouse skeleton staff, who freelance everything out&mdash;is destroying the industry from the inside.&quot; </p><p>She said that so little editing and design was now done inhouse that young people joining the industry had no opportunity to learn core skills, describing it as &quot;a suicidal strategy, very short term&quot;.</p><p>Adele Moss, senior managing editor at Macmillan Education, said: &quot;Outsourcing comes about because of time pressures but you can&#39;t monitor standards in the same way. Wanting to get things done quickly to save money can often be a false economy because work has to be redone.&quot;</p><p>A senior education publisher, who wished to remain anonymous, said that &quot;the world has changed&quot;, with editorial departments now dealing with much greater throughput. He said: &quot;The curriculum is fast-changing, and although in the past books were exam-board specific, there were still &#39;blockbusters&#39; in particular areas.</p><p>&quot;Now you need to produce the book to a very specific syllabus and to get the same market share you probably have to publish three times as many books, plus sophisticated electronic offers.&quot;</p><p>An academic publisher added: &quot;For many years the sourcing of scholarly line-editing and copy-editing for scholarly books and journals has been done globally. It&#39;s very flexible and just as adequate to have a skilled graduate in India doing it as a graduate in the UK.&quot; </p><p>Oxford Brookes University academic Stephen Ball, who researches issues of quality in publishing, is setting up an online site to invite comment on the issue from publishing staff. He said: &quot;In academic and educational publishing, quality is at the very centre of what you provide.&quot;</p><p>Ball added: &quot;There is a huge amount of anecdotal comment, but I&#39;m trying to do an audit.&quot; The site will be live by the end of the year on the Oxford Brookes website at http://ah.brookes.ac.uk/research/project/publishing_quality_audit.</p>