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Work Abroad

Apr 24, 2006
US still Available in Tech Jobs
- Maria Theresa S. Samante Email this article

Sending tech jobs overseas have a lesser impact on U.S workers than it was widely anticipated, but in years to come, new risk and challenges will grow if offshoring will be put into practice.


The Association for Computing Machinery, a group of information technology, studied lots of information that would determine the impact of sending jobs to the rapidly increasing tech centers in India, China and other areas overseas.


After a year of study the group got a conclusion that is sure to be welcomed by the industry and computer science departments.


“The average high school student parent thinks all IT jobs have already gone to China or India,” said UC Berkeley computer science Professor David Patterson, who serves as the association’s president.


“People who could have wonderful careers in the field aren’t even considering computer science because they’ve got the wrong facts. If you’ve got the talents, this is a pretty exciting field with lots of exciting things to do,” Patterson said.


Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was used by the group to estimate that new tech jobs are being created in the United States as fast or faster than jobs being shipped overseas. It estimates that two to three percent of information technology jobs are being offshored each year, while tech employment has increased annually by 3 percent or more in recent years.


The result of this report criticizes reports that fail to provide baseline comparisons and methodology information. It condemn reports of widespread job losses to offshoring, like Forrester Research’s that calculates that by 2015, 3.3 million service jobs would go overseas. 


Written reports about offshoring lament the need of reliable figures showing the extent of the phenomenon.  On the other hand, report bases its own estimates on what research it could find.


It also quotes reports from researchers of Berkeley, Ashok Deo Bardhan and Cynthia Kroll, who found that 12 million to 14 million jobs in the United States are in danger to offshoring. They told The Chronicle in 2004 that Silicon Valley was at special threat because one out of seven jobs are vulnerable to overseas replacement compares with one in ten nationwide. Those numbers should be looked at as “at best, an upper limit on the number of jobs at risk,” the report said.


This latest survey form the association results various observers criticized the reports highlighting on the positive as a self-serving attempt to boost sagging computer science enrollment at universities. According to the Computing Reasearcg Association, enrollment in undergraduate computer science program has declined by 7 percent in each of the past two years.


“The deans and the department chairs are absolutely panicked because enrollment is plummeting,” said Norman Matloff, a professor of computer science at UC Davis who a well-known critic of visa worker programs and offshoring in the technology industry.

Matloff says that gratifying careers in computer science are still on the decline, and he consistently warns high schools students about that.


“I think the report was a bit overly optimistic,” said Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, who has studied offshoring. “I find it strange that although they admit there’s no good data, they come out as very optimistic that this isn’t that big a deal.”


Hira provided a briefing for the report did include some cautionary notes about the offshoring trend:


  • While most economists agree that offshoring can benefit both developing and developed countries, some argue that the practice could actually cause a technology leader like the United States to lose its dominant position.

  • Offshoring can create new threats to national security, intellectual property and personal privacy.

  • Higher-level jobs are beginning to be offshored, posing a job-loss risk to a wider variety of IT professionals.

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