Thursday, September 09, 2004

About Offshoring 

I’m currently in the process of organizing an IT job market colloquium that is going to be held in Atlantic Canada in 2005. We are at the step of defining our main themes so I’m trying to list what I think are the main trends that are influencing the Atlantic Canada IT workplace. I have identified offshoring as being one of the main trends to consider.

During the last 20 years North Americans have been told that the best work opportunities were going to be in the IT sector. And that has been true in most cases, even if we have experienced the IT burst. IT workers usually still have a job and are well paid. We used to think that as long as we could handle the pressure, we would always be able to make a good living in this sector. That has changed in the past years. High profile IT jobs are increasingly outsourced to India and China where workers are as competent as we are for only a fraction of the price. Outsourcing is not exactly a new thing but previously the jobs outsourced were of “lower level”, typically in manufacturing. But now others are seeking a category of jobs that we thought of as untouchable. What about our job security? Gone? Well…Yes. And that’s a good thing.

Were North Americans overpaid? No, the level of offer has just changed. Are they overpaid now? Yes, that explains why jobs are flying overseas. North America has lost that differentiation element that allowed higher salaries. It is up to each individual to define how he/she can remain globally competitive. Maybe it’s time to stop mass-producing homogenous IT graduates and let people differentiate themselves so that they can fit well into their immediate work environments. Some call it being innovative, or being free and responsible.

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