My fiance (an American) works for Oracle here in the U.S. When he started some thirteen years ago the bulk of his work was being a code monkey, but over the years more and more of that has been outsourced to India.
His dad is a computer programmer from back in the days when mainframes took entire rooms, and together they have been known to gripe about the fact that what used to be pages of beautifully written code has become a butchered mess they can hardly decipher all in the name of cheaper labour.
[Over the long-term] Americans are losing the ability to perform these skills and with that loss they are losing the ability to compete on a global scale. Regardless of party lines, both parties are equally guilty about enabling companies who outsource and neither party is particularly interested in actually solving the issue.
American politics is like a shell game, each candidate tries to distract the voter by pointing out the others shortcomings but in reality they are both just trying to hide the same crummy plastic ball.
Sherry Halfyard, business consultant in Tempe, Arizona:
The work search project I am connected with [the AARP Foundation, once known as the American Association of Retired Persons] is shifting to contracting an American call centre company for client management and support services.
In addition, one of our partner organizations, Tree Rings (seniors serving seniors) is hiring nationally, on a large scale, people age 50+ to work in regionally based call centres.
Although, customer service representatives in India and the Philippines earn on average $2,400 a year while North American equivalents earn $20,000 to $40,000 annually with potential to earn upwards of $90,000. Rationale is that an American operator can answer the calls quickly and potentially sell extra services. Due to cultural and language challenges most overseas calls take much longer and even with the labour costs are proving to be less effective.
Perhaps manufacturing will continue to be outsourced, however, the trend is that customer service jobs are coming home.
Meredith Nelson lives in Raleigh, North Carolina:
Outsourcing has been of serious concern in North Carolina: a major portion of the furniture making business has moved overseas.
Today, there is a resurgence of high-end furniture being made in the state. While the industry is by no means booming, it is certainly starting to hold its own.
Herein lies the conundrum: the North Carolina furniture industry is hiring, yet despite substantial retraining programs many jobs remain vacant – employers are having trouble finding people with the skills needed to fill vacant posts.
Outsourcing has changed the economic landscape. Even as jobs start coming back there is no guarantee that the work force, as it exists today, will be able to fill them.
Jeff Gebhart, IT manager in Oak Ridge, Tennessee:
[My] presence in the United States is, in large part, an “insourcing.”
I’ve worked for my present employer since 2002 in various capacities (as a contract consultant, later as an employee). I worked in our Calgary office until mid-2007, at which time I relocated to Tennessee. My job didn’t really change in any appreciable way, but my local address did.
So, instead of shipping my salary and benefits money up to Canada to pay for me, they now pay that money here in Tennessee. The money they were spending on me (my company is U.S.- based) is now put to work in the U.S. economy.
Brian Monkman, technology project manager in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania:
I originally entered the United States under a temporary visa (TN visa) that was a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) treaty. So, to a number of folks I work with, and that live in the rather conservative part of Pennsylvania I live in, the job was awarded to someone who was not originally a resident of the U.S. Not the same as the job being outsourced, but not a very distant second.
In my job I deal with a significant number of companies that manufacture products. A significant majority of these companies ship the manufacturing process offshore as well as the software development process. This obviously impacts the U.S. job force.
The big question for me, and one that will prompt (I predict) contentious discussion, is: has globalization been a net positive or a net negative thing for the U.S.? It is important for all of us who are here as a result of a NAFTA-related visa or an H1-B [temporary foreign workers visa] to not forget that we are here as a direct result of the forces of globalization.
Some quotes have been edited and condensed.