Stats Watch: Losing jobs overseas

The counterpart to foreigners filling our IT vacancies is the outsourcing of roles such as software development and call centre operations to much cheaper but capable professionals in countries far afield.

The counterpart to foreigners filling our IT vacancies is the outsourcing of roles such as software development and call centre operations to much cheaper but capable professionals in countries far afield.

The US, a high-wage IT economy, is (justifiably) paranoid about losing offshore virtual cities of jobs and the economic spin-cycle behind those billions of dollars of salaries.

Forrester Research predicts the loss by 2015 of 3.3 million US services industry jobs and $US136 billion in wages to countries such as India, Russia, China and the Philippines, as companies shift their IT, back office, customer service and even sales ops offshore. They are lured by cost cuts of up to 50%, says Forrester.

Already companies such as Oracle are moving more than 2000 development jobs to India, soaking up some of that country's 250,000 yearly IT graduates. HP has shifted 1200 Compaq customer service jobs from Florida to India. Others taking advantage of cheaper rates in the third world are NEC, 12, Dell, Delta Air Lines, AIG and Ericsson.

Forrester cites labour rates, low-cost bandwidth, standardised business applications that are now much easier to hand off, and net-based collaborative tools such as instant messaging and shared whiteboards easing communication.

The wages associated with those 3.3 million jobs -- 53,987 in 2000 and 587,592 in 2005 -- will rise from $US4 billion in 2000 to $US136 billion. Forrester says this figure will easily double if similar events in Europe and Japan are added in.

Most of the jobs, a very definite 472,632, are predicted to be in the "computer" area, followed by business jobs, management and sales.

Email Mark Broatch.

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