As comments from readers on some of the posts on this site prove, at least some seasoned IT pros see low-cost overseas labor as a serious threat to their future career prospects. Here's a comment from smg71 on a post IT Business Edge contributor Don Tennant wrote about the NBC comedy "Outsourced":
The issue with this "comedy" is simple. When you have 15 million people who have been displaced due to outsourcing and the overuse of H1B visas you don't rub it in their faces with a "comedy." People don't find a situation that has caused them to lose their dignity due to having to be put on food stamps and welfare amusing. I'm not running around burning the Indian flag, that's kind of stupid overall, but to pretend that this show isn't offensive is foolish and uninformed. Yes, I was unemployed for 15 months due to outsourcing, I looked every day for work to find out government contracts were given to American based companies that then took the jobs and shipped them overseas. I did find work eventually. ...
Check out highlights from Rural Sourcing Inc. CEO Monty Hamilton's presentation at the 2010 Outsourcing World Summit.
But do IT pros feel similarly threatened by workers in the rural United States, who are willing to work for far less money? If so, is it OK if they lose their jobs to Americans rather than folks from other countries?
Back in August I wrote about how rural onshore outsourcing could be a great fit for some U.S. companies, as an alternative to offshoring. But what about the folks working for those outsourcing companies? Do they benefit as well?
A recent InfoWorld article asked the question "Is your future in IT a job in the boonies?" and offered the examples of several experienced IT pros who had relocated to rural areas to find employment. Outsourcing providers with operations in rural areas often pay experienced employees 30 to 40 percent less than what they earned in a prior IT job, the article notes.
In some cases, that's offset by lower living expenses-but not always. Jerry Jensen, who works as a team leader for CrossUSA, says some costs like groceries are actually higher in rural areas. Jensen describes lifestyle adjustments such as clipping coupons and shopping sales. Another CrossUSA employee mentions that he's already saved enough for a comfortable retirement so was willing to take a pay cut.
According to the article, CrossUSA "generally recruits older, experienced workers approaching retirement." (Guess that's one way of using age discrimination in IT to your advantage.)
Rural outsourcing providers also recruit young workers willing to work for lower salaries than more experienced IT pros. The article mentions Alex Ross, a senior technologist with Onshore Technology Services, who "was working as a fry cook at a KFC restaurant before joining the outsourcing firm five years ago." He now develops coding standards and best practices, leads group training courses, develops pilot projects for new clients and mentors other technology employees.
Tennant recently wrote a post about his interview with the SVP of skills certification at CompTIA, who said high school dropouts with IT certifications may make good job candidates. This is certainly true of some dropouts and presents a great opportunity for them, but that doesn't change the fact that one result of dropouts entering IT may be a reduction in salaries.
The article does mention that rural outsourcing companies give both rookie and veteran IT pros opportunities to work with a variety of technologies. The same cannot be said for some other IT employers, who seem unwilling to consider hiring folks who don't possess specific skill sets. A reader named Scott M. commented on another of Tennant's posts about IT employment Catch-22s. After noting he was an IT contractor familiar with a wide variety of platforms, he wrote:
... In the past, all I had to do was to learn a new language and I could leverage my past experience to move to a newer technology. Unfortunately, software development has become such a commodity that most companies are now demanding experience in a particular skill. This means that it has been almost impossible to move to newer technologies, as they are demanding experience with it. Entry-level positions are almost a thing of the past, and most companies do not allow mentoring anymore. It has gotten so bad that some firms will not even tolerate a two week layover time to learn their system software and methodologies.
Perhaps rural outsourcing companies can provide the kinds of training opportunities that will open up more employment options for IT pros.