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Monday 1 September 2003

IT jobs goin down 't pit [thesun]

Does anyone remember the Superman movie where Richard Prior learned to be a programmer because there was good money in that game? Does anyone believe that now? IT jobs have been under pressure the last few years from cash strapped companies cutting down on expensive stuff like new developments and gear, that's fair enough too, if they can't afford it, tough. But there's also a trend for outsourcing IT to places like China and India where the locals have a low cost of living so can work an awful lot cheaper than us here.
Now that naffs me off, but I also understand the realities. If somethings available that offers a comparable service at a much lower cost, what can you do? But is it a comparable service? Is a room full of Indian programmers as effective or even more effective than a department nearby? I've no idea in truth, but I've heard a few horror stories. And what happens when supply in those countries outstrips demand, as it surely must if all the IT for the developed countries slides down there over the next few years. Can the Idian and Chineese universities pump out enough graduates to cope? Or are our schools supposed to educate them too?
I think what's required is re-education in the way people spend. People need to take some responsibility and realise they demand lower prices, they need to know that demanding cheaper phone calls will force BT to send its call centre to india. That demanding cheaper chicken nuggets will force supermarkets to buy the shittest frozen chicken from Mexico. That when they buy a motor insurance policy from a direct global company instead of the broker on the high street they're taking jobs away from their families.
On the back of this, should our leaders actually be encouraging foreign labour into our strapped job markets? The Reg reports that the EU are actively seeking to make it easier for foriegn nationals to seek employment in our countries. How can that be acting in the interests of the local populations?


  1. Just a little niggle, but buying insurance direct from a multi national only means you don't pay your local broker £25 quid for buying it for you. No real difference there.

  2. There are a couple of good Bob Cringley articles in the last few weeks about outsourcing to India, highlighting the pitfalls etc.
    Problems arise because they don't ship the designers abroad to keep the programmers in the loop, so things go off the rails.
    Like call centre jobs being shipped overseas, it might make sense in the bottomline short-term, but the effects ripple across communities. Call centres are the new meat packing factories, providing jobs for thick/unskilled, what will be left for them when they all close? What about the knock-on to the local businesses (sarnie shops/pubs! etc.) that support the call centres?

  3. Homer: Exactly what I mean about educating people the consequences of going for the cheapest possible stuff.
    Afty, a broker does more than that. I'm don't want to go into it too much, but what I'm trying to say is that people should be seeking more than just the cheapest option.

  4. Bah, now you've muddied the waters. Why don't we all go out and buy our PC stuff from PC World and keep some spotty-twats in acne cream rather than buying online from DOH!

  5. I've seen this firsthand at a place I've worked at, no onsite IT at all so when a very important PC was rebooting by itself they had to get a local company to fix it.
    Although I did laugh somewhat when the 'engineer' picked the thing up pulling the plug out of the PSU *while* it was doing a backup to a tape drive.

  6. A few thoughts...
    Both myself and Spiny work for Zurich Financial Services. We're seeing large chucks of our 1000 person IT department outsourced. I'm sure most of our systems will be maintained in India or by large multi-national IT groups within a year or so although we know from previous attempts it's a pretty tough transition. Our experience in the past necessitated sending my Boss to India for 6 months to keep an eye on the Indian outsourcers cos Indians like to please and always say Yes they can deliver, even if they can't. I'm also pretty sure that the company will end up paying more, it's just the headline figures that reduce - you end up with other costs that no one's counting at the moment.
    On the price front, Insurance like many products is a commodity today which is price sensitive. Zurich have to lower costs to continue to exist and that means change. I don't think anyone reading this buys something that's more expensive to preserve someone elses job (except perhaps getting milk from the milkman!)
    All of us select products on the basis of cost, when we can get our hands on it and what sort of service we will tolerate for 'cheapness'. ie we might pay the extra tenner at PC world if we want it today. If it's £30 more we'll take the internet route. Is Scan's price low enough to be chosen over our favourite online source? etc.
    Sort of have this feeling that kids thinking they might be a programmer is akin to wanting to be a Steam Train driver a generation ago! The standard jobs will go leaving specialist only. Also see the UK IT (and other service industries) suffering from the same issues that Manufacturing has in the past. Do wonder what will be left in the UK for us to do?
    Interesting - your thoughts on supply of Indian resource. Read some recent stuff which suggested they have Indians have contract problems already with people chasing the best wage - similar to what used to happen in the defense industry (when we used to have one).
    It all feels quite gloomy - especially when you're in the middle of it all.

  7. Three words: India', 'Pakistan', 'Nukes'...problem solved :)
    Oh yeah, I'm back from frogland. Phear:)Three words: India', 'Pakistan', 'Nukes'...problem solved :)
    Oh yeah, I'm back from frogland. Phear:)