Fear Of Offshoring May Lead To More Of It

from the you-have-only-yourself-to-blame dept

With all of the talk about IT jobs being offshored to India, it wouldn't be surprising for that to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A new study predicts a shortage of qualified IT workers, and cites the pervasive perception that IT isn't a good career to go into in the United States due to foreign competitive pressure. In contrast to all the hand wringing and rhetoric, the labor picture for tech workers remains quite bright. But if American students become less interested in IT, and the availability of H-1B visas remains tight, then companies will have no choice but to look beyond US borders for labor. Even if it would be tough to conclusively prove a link between the fear of offshoring and the decline in IT education, the argument seems logical. It would be quite ironic to find out that those screaming most loudly about this fact may actually be pushing the trend forward in doing so. You'd think that people concerned about the economy would want to do everything to encourage students to gain high-tech skills.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 5:14pm

    Horsehockey.

     

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  2.  
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    U3, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:01pm

    Very True

    I have personally seen this happen at my last job.
    First Off shoring then they tried to bring it back due to customer complaints - but then couldn't find the right people hance had to continue with offshore companies...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Horsehockey

    Seconded

     

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  4.  
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    BUSHWACK, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:02pm

    Why we are at it....

    Why don’t we off-shore the Presidency or some CEOs job why we are at it too? Think how much money we could save???

     

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  5.  
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    Patrick Davis, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:04pm

    I see the correlation daily

    I am a computer science major at a state university. Current students worry about offshoring all the time. Continually declining enrollment and dropout rates are directly affected by that fear. While I cannot back this up with scientific fact, I hear this in conversing with current and former CS, IT, and IS students.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:06pm

    This news is a relief to me. I work in IT and I'll be glad to reap the benefits in 5-7 years when there is a demand for folks just like me again.

     

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  7.  
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    Howard Lee Harkness, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:33pm

    But if American students become less interested in IT, and the availability of H-1B visas remains tight, then companies will have no choice but to look beyond US borders for labor.

    No choice at all? Guess nobody is capable of even considering paying a decent wage for programmers. Otherwise, that might be an alternative to hiring H1b and offshoring... I would estimate there are between 1000 and 5000 C++ programmers still out of work in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area alone -- although many of them have found alternatives to writing software for a living by now. In my classes (I teach C++ and Java programming at the local community college) I tell all of my students that they need to seriously consider doing something else for a living besides programming.

    --The Celtic Fiddler Violins and Accessories.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:35pm

    Yup, in about 8 yrs ill be retiring from the Navy with tons of experience in the IT field and a degree to boot. Bout that time all these "offshore" jobs will be returning and companies will be gagging for people. Works for me. I can like with a mid $70k job, a retirement check from Uncle Sam and my disability check just to add flavor.

     

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  9.  
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    William, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 6:41pm

    Re: I see the correlation daily

    I am a recent computer science grad and i can tell you that there are jobs out there for you when you finish your CS degree. Don't take the bastards seriously and you'll be fine. I learned in C++ and Java and got a job as an RPG/AS400 programmer right out of school. Companies are starting to realize that even though they can ship there simple entry level CS jobs oversees they still need senior programmer types and that those people have to be developed they don't just appear out of thin air.

     

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  10.  
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    Stu, Jun 14th, 2006 @ 8:20pm

    Off shoring - nobody is capable of paying a decent

    Of course they are capable of paying a decent wage. They would just rather pay less.

    It reminds me of the myth that illegal immigrants are doing the jobs that no American will do. Of course Americans will do that hard and dirty work - just not for the same wage that an illegal will work for.

    Personally, I'll pay the extra 5 cents for a head of lettuce, and settle for a very small reduction in the net profit of companies that offshore jobs.

    There will be a long term price that the USA - as a society - will pay for losing our abilities; but businessmen and politicians are too greedy to care about it.

     

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  11.  
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    Jeff, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 6:08am

    You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    The problem is not just WHERE the jobs are going, but WHAT the jobs are these days.

    Some of the trends related to Offshoring are just symptomatic of the devaluation of information technology jobs that have occurred over the past several years.

    Information Technology jobs are still out there. This is undeniable.

    But the job you had last year is not the job you will have next year. This is part of the game when you're in a quickly-evolving industry. Those who deny the changes are the ones who end up with their heads buried in the sand, only waiting for someone else to come along and bury the rest of them. But I'm not saying responsibility or blame lies with the IT worker. It's just a fact to consider when looking at the overall IT landscape.

    Fact is, there are two very different classes of IT jobs out there. You're either working for an IT company where IT is mission-critical to the organization's success, or you're working for a non-IT company that uses IT to help it achieve its core business goals.

    So the question is, if you're an IT person, which type of company do you work for? Is your company PART of the IT industry, or is your company LEVERAGING the IT industry? Internalizing your company goals as your own, then are YOU really PART of the IT industry or simply LEVERAGING it?

    If you're a PART of the IT industry, even then your job can be offshored, sure, but it's not done quite as often because there's a higher level of skillset that is required. But if you're just LEVERAGING the IT industry, then often a lesser level of quality is acceptable. Less robust software that would never be acceptable at a software company who mass-sells their wares, but that same software might be considered a gem at a non-software company who just needs a simple utility to help them perform core business functions more efficiently.

    Also consider that "on-shore" IT jobs -- jobs that survive Offshoring efforts -- are usually not the same jobs they were before Offshoring was implemented. Employees being told they were lucky to keep their jobs are less likely to demand raises. More likely to work longer hours to maintain their current positions. More likely to have to be on-call and fixing things in the middle of the night. Less likely to be able to take a couple weeks of vacation without having to bring along their laptop and do some work remotely. More likely to have their job functions overlap into their personal lives and have lines between family and work blurred.

    Sure, tech jobs are still out there. Sure, the college graduates are still being told they can still get work.

    But look at the percentage of IT effort that is out there in terms of five categories:

    1) Entry-level jobs (no xp necessary, college degree helpful)
    2) Mid-level experience jobs (0-5 years xp necessary)
    3) High-level experience jobs (5+ years xp required)
    4) On-shore H1B jobs
    5) Offshored labor

    What's going on out there over the past 10 years? Well it's simple, categories 1, 4 and 5 are doing well. Everyone in category 3 is considered a dinosaur on the brink of extinction, and category 2 is still a possible job opportunity as long as you don't mind having The Corporation squeeze blood from your stones.

    Of course college kids are being told they can get a job when they graduate. Companies are glad to hire you at a cheap rate. Then they can tell the experienced folks that they're too behind the times, their skills are obsolete, whatever and save a chunk of change between the old person's salary. Fire the old farts, then hire a college kid and an H1-B and contract out the rest to offshoring companies. Old farts who remain must understand they're being judged on not their overall experience, but the new skillset, which is always changing and which no one can ever have more than a couple years experience for. After all, it's not the overall skills that matter but the RELEVANT skills.

    So yeah, young kid, go out and get a JOB working at an IT company. There are plenty of IT _JOBS_ out there nowadays. Just damned few CAREERS.

    Jeff

     

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  12.  
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    ebrke, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 7:48am

    Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    Great post, Jeff!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    > This news is a relief to me. I work in IT and I'll be glad to reap the benefits in 5-7 years when there is a demand for folks just like me again.

    This news is a relief to me. I work in IT and I'll be glad to reap the benefits in 5-7 years ***IF*** there is a demand for folks just like me again.

    And that's a big IF.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: I see the correlation daily

    > Companies are starting to realize that even though they can ship there simple entry level CS jobs oversees they still need senior programmer types and that those people have to be developed they don't just appear out of thin air.

    You don't get a senior position straight out of college. You get a junior position and there are none of them left.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    > Information Technology jobs are still out there. This is undeniable.

    I deny that. So do all the unemployed programmers I know, and there are quite a few of those.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    > But the job you had last year is not the job you will have next year.

    You can count on that!

     

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  17.  
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    Sad Mac, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:55am

    Not a good career choice

    I know married couples in which one or both of them are programmers. They have told me that they would not let their kids go into programming and would encourage them to do something else.

    I don't have kids, but when I do, I sure as hell am not going to let them go into programming. They simply would not be able to support their families. It doesn't make sense to enter a field that has been severely devalued. Programmers are viewed as costs, not as wealth generators. If you are already a senior programmer and close to retirement, it may make sense to stick it out. I've know a lot of middle aged developers (30s, 40s, early 50s) who have left the field all together.

    The bottom line is that you don't enter a field that is unvalued by society. It doesn't pay well. There is no job security. Downsizing occurs every year. There is no loyalty between employer and employee. You are not paid based on your knowledge, skills, or experience, but rather how cheap it is to replace you with a third-world worker.

    Do the math. I'm telling you this for your own good. When IT was valued, there were a lot of people signing up for it. Fewer people sign up for now because it is clear that IT is NOT valued. This is not cyclic. This is not a fad. This is globalization. The cat has been let out of the bag. Joining IT is like joining a hand-made shoe manufacturing company. It's not going to make a comeback. Manufacturing in America/Europe did NOT recover after it was outsourced to China. Why would IT?

     

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  18.  
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    Ownage, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 11:03am

    Yo Yo Yo!

    Yo btche$ Prgming rulez! I'm gonna pawn your @$$ and take all the dead presidents cause I ownage the code. The man is gonna pay me big bucks cause I'm hip to hacking as pro/ed by my spellin'

    Who wouldn't want to hire my @$$? I mean, word, look at my mad skillz. I'm from the cyberghetto. I walk the mean silicon streetz. + I'm young --> I'm invincible. Me->worries == 0.

    && when I gotz all the $$$, I'm leaving my parent's house and getting my own pad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 15th, 2006 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    I deny that. So do all the unemployed programmers I know, and there are quite a few of those.

    And yet, every company I know of in Silicon Valley is desperately looking to hire programmers. There's definitely a shortage out here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Big Huge Dave, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    There may not be a lot of jobs available where they just need someone to "code" all day long, true. But many companies still need people in house to coordinate the coding from overseas people, and also to handle some things on shore.

    But for those of you that think you can just have one skill and refuse to see what's going on around you, and not learn new ones that are coming into demand then shame on you.

    I would also like to add that statistics show that for all the jobs that went overseas companies actually ended up creating more jobs here in the United States.

    I know at the IT company I worked for when the bubble burst the first time, before outsourcing became huge, they let go of a lot of developers. But the ones they let go were NOT good developers. They didn't look outside the box, they were much lazier than their counterparts, and they didn't provide value to the company. They basically just worked their 9-5 hours, never did anything extra without a lot of pushing and negotiating, whereas the developers they kept had a great attitude and always went above and beyond what was expected of them. That won't help you in every single situation, no, but it helps immensely.

    And for the companies that just "clean house" and get rid of lots of people without warning, well that happens too, which is a case in point that all of us need to make sure and always be ready economically for those times.

    I wish all of you the best that are out of a job. I'm in Detroit, and right now our economy is horrible. But I'm still employed for a large automotive supplier...even after they've cut a lot of fat. Why? Because I find ways to offer value to my company, and always keep a positive attitude.

     

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  21.  
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    Hear that one before, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    > Silicon Valley is desperately looking to hire programmers. There's definitely a shortage out here.

    --> A mere 2 years ago there were lines going around the block of applicants for single jobs in Silicon Valley. If there is a shortage now, it's because everyone has left and that caught all the downsizing companies by surprise. Don't worry, this shortage won't last and it won't cause the companies to raise salaries.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: You're comparing Apples to RoadApples

    > But for those of you that think you can just have one skill and refuse to see what's going on around you, and not learn new ones that are coming into demand then shame on you.

    You arrogant ass. Do you really think there is any programmer in the world who actually says, "I only need to know one skill or language and I can then sit on my ass all day." What B.S.!!!!

    Programmers are constantly learning and spend tens of hours each week reading and learning new skills just to keep up with eveyone else. That's on top of the 20 hours of unpaid overtime that's just expected of you.

    What's even worse is that in three years, all the knowledge that you got from sacrificing weekends is worthless and obsolete. Time to start from scratch.

    > But the ones they let go were NOT good developers.
    --> I beg to differ. When a company starts to downsize, it is most often done at random. Slashes all across the board. Are you some 20 year old kid who hasn't been in this industry very long?

    > all of us need to make sure and always be ready economically for those times.
    --> This isn't typical in most professions. Do you think that doctors, lawyers, marketeers, managers, or even hair stylists have to go through this crap? No they don't. The fact that we accept it shows how bad our industry is.

     

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  23.  
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    Bitter career changer, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 5:51am

    I bought into the "desperate shortage" BS the last time around. I decided I wanted to improve my life and have a career instead of just a job...I was tired of being a glorified shipping clerk making low 20s.

    So I went back to college, busted my tail for four years, graduated magna cum laude in math/CS, and have not been able to find a full-time job since. No one wants to give a 40-something career-changer a shot...especially having moved to a country (Germany) where age discrimination is legal and rampant.

    I don't know what to do any more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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