-By Sarah S.
The topic of outsourcing tends to bring up mixed feelings in a discussion. But it’s been going on since the early 90’s, starting with manufacturing companies that made clothing and other consumer products. During those times outsourcing these types of jobs definitely raised some concerns. But at that time these types of jobs were considered undesirable because of their manual labor element. But today outsourcing is in the middle of a transformation. Millions of customer service, IT, and sales jobs are beening outsourced to India and the Philippines.
Most American’s would tell you that outsourcing isn’t good for the country or that it’s taking jobs away from the American people and it should stop. But this is just the beginning. Outsourcing is increasing and there is nothing we can do about it. Or can we? We need to look at the outsourcing debate differently. The solution is not to stop outsourcing; this doesn’t make sense for big corporations that can employ cheaper labor in India compared to the US.
The first step is to accept our fate that our market is turning into a global one. And that one day that’s all the world will be, one big global market. The solution lies in the availability of talent. The major reason which has led to US corporations outsourcing white-collar jobs is because of the cost and talent. Over the past few years the education systems of other countries have begun to produce students of a level comparable to the US. Now you have an educated workforce at lower salaries, which is now where the jobs are going. In other words people have become the competitive advantage, globally.
We need to redirect our energy and use it to improve our education system and to increase innovation. Obama has mentioned tax breaks for research and development to promote innovation in America to keep us competitive. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2009 US ranked 17th place in level of education out of 65 countries that participated. Some of the countries that were right ahead of us were Iceland, Estonia, Poland, Switzerland and Norway. Some of the countries that were right behind us were Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and Hungary. The top five were China, Korea, Finland, Singapore, and Canada.
As far as my own experience with outsourcing, it would have to be my experience as a customer. In the late 90’s I noticed when I called Dell computer support, the person that would answer the phone had a very thick Indian accent. It was so frustrating talking with them because they couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand them. If the next time I would called the person that answered had an accent I would just hang up and call back. Recently I have noticed that the call centers have gotten better. I called Expedia the other day and I could barely tell the woman that answered had an accent. Then when I asked her where her office was she said it was in the Philippines. Then I knew that he real name wasn’t Megan like she had told me. So I asked her real name, and it wasn’t Megan. I also asked her where she learned to speak English. She told me at her school in the Philippines and also that Expedia puts them in English classes to improve their speaking. I was very surprised, it seemed that the customer service agents were getting better at replicating the U.S. culture.
My opinion on outsourcing is that this is the “new normal” of the global economy. In the Thomas Friedman special about outsourcing, he interviewed the chairman of Wipro, which happens to be the richest man in India. The chairman says that innovation is the key to U.S. keeping up with the job loss due to outsourcing. He also said that much of the wealth in the U.S. has come from global markets. I agree with these statements and I think that in order for the U.S. to keep up we need to be on the top of our game. Innovations and our education system should be top notch if we want the American people to become the competitive advantage.