Outsourcing may doom future IT careers

While one survey shows India picking up the majority of outsourcing contracts, another Australian report suggests that nursing could become a better career choice in some countries
Written by Fran Foo, Contributor

The rampant outsourcing of IT jobs could sound the death knell for Australia's technology industry, an IT Manager Australia survey has revealed.

ITM members were asked if students in Australia would be discouraged from considering IT as a career if offshore outsourcing continued to shrink the local employment market.

More than 90 percent of members said that based upon current conditions, they wouldn't recommend information technology as a viable career path.

"I'd rather my kids opt for nursing as a profession -- it has both local and global demand," said ITM member James Michaels, who works for a telecommunications company in Sydney.

Michaels said there was a huge "disconnect" in the supply and demand chain. "I think we've reached a saturation point... there's just too many skilled techies out of work and they're all fighting for either the same pie or the scraps left behind post-outsourcing," he said.

Occupational hazard For some IT undergraduates, there's no turning back. "As a computer science student at Melbourne University, I can say it is almost guaranteed that students will shy away from IT as a career without outsourcing legislation," said ITM member Jesse Stratford.

"My peers and I are very much aware of this [offshore outsourcing] situation and watching it with great interest lest our expensive, hard-earned education be thrown out of the window for the sake of lining the pockets of big businesses," Stratford added. According to market research firm Gartner, offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) is expected to reach $1.8bn (£1.10bn) in 2003 on a global basis, representing a 38 percent increase from the previous year.

Gartner said India will represent 66 percent of the offshore BPO market or $1.2bn. "Most of today's offshore BPO opportunities in India are relegated to contact centres and back-office transaction processing," said Sujay Chohan, Gartner's research vice president.

But it's not all doom and gloom, as one member said: "We need to be careful not to confuse "offshore" development with round-the-clock surveillance," wrote ITM member Peter Hannan.

Hannan explained that in many instances, it was logical to have service provisioning (network monitoring, for instance) overseas in a follow-the-sun arrangement -- especially for multinational companies.

"Such arrangements generally provide commercial sense and have the by-product of reciprocity for our talent pool," he added.

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