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Offshoring FAQ

The state of the market for developers (especially in the US) is often discussed here, with concern being voiced over offshoring of jobs and the impact of OSS.

My personal feelings on this are not very strong, because I don't earn my living primarily as a developer (I'm a teacher and consultant). I'm also aware that this is an international forum. But here's an interesting analysis of the impact of offshoring of white-collar jobs from a US perspective, from the Economic Policy Institute:

I'm curious to know what others think of this.
EKB Send private email
Monday, November 14, 2005
Good article. The graph speaks for itself. Universities should be honest with students. Before taking their $100,000 for a degree, they should show them that graph.
Monday, November 14, 2005
You know, if someone graduates with a B.A. in History and then complained they didn't make $100k a year, everyone would laugh. Why do developers require coddling?

Universities barely care if you show up. Now they're supposed to prevent you from making dumb career choices?
Monday, November 14, 2005
I am sorry it was not clear. The $100k referred to the cost of university, not to potential earnings, which would be much less than that.

The simple fact is that a university degree in IT is not an effective investment. You'd be better off getting into the workforce 4 years earlier and pursuing a career in sales or management if interested in money, on become a jazz musician or landscaper of doing something for the passion that also has good job prospects.
Monday, November 14, 2005
q university degree in any subject hasn't been an effective investment for at least 15 years.

Monday, November 14, 2005
I guess offshoring is something that some people will do we but there are huge perils in just joining the bandwagon.

I know from our company that has tried offshore develpment work and it has not gone so well. That is not to say that there are no good developers offshore but even though salaries might be cheeper, the costs of supporting them is huge. Also going in not knowing the offshore country means we made some rather big mistakes, especially in choosing partners offshore.

My personal view of offshoring is that it was a fad that came about after the dot-bomb, almost as a backlash to developers signing their own paychecks. I think that certain things will be done well offshore but I think that many offshore experiments are doomed to either failure or a very limited success.

Western developers will still have jobs in years to come but I also wish all the best of luck to all those offshore developers out there.

If anyone else has had experience offshoring, I think this forum would be interested.
Event Horizon
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
That Economic Policy Institute where the article comes from sure looks like it has a heavy liberal bias which should be noted.
Scot Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Correlation does not equal causation.

In 1995 through 1999 IT was the hot field in the US. During those years, a lot of people entered CS programs in colleges throughout the country.

2000-2001 the dotcom boom collapsed, putting a lot of devs out of work; of course it wasn't obvious how bleak it was until 2002-2003. So there followed four years of eager CS students graduating into an oversaturated field.

With or without offshoring, that graph would probably look the same.

Philo Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I agree with Scot - they do appear to have a traditional liberal bias.

But, if their numbers are factual (and if they're showing *all* the figures, not just the ones that support their position), then offshoring is probably as bad as people have been saying.

I found figure 6 to be interesting -- it shows that demand for software peaked in March of 2001, but is now rising again.  With fewer CS grads, that should mean higher salaries for the rest of us.  However, I suspect a fair number of jobs will be going to off shore firms due to this higher demand.

The recent hiring that I've been involved with has shown that it's tough to find people with high-end skills (UML analysis and design).  Lots of junior coders who call themselves senior developers, but very few people with truly good skills.
example Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This is a very thorough report - but I have a concern that some of the graphs are scaled in a way to make 1-2% changes look like massive swings.
Sassy Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I think Figure 5 is misleading.  Looking at "employment in software and related industries" is going to count all the history majors who called themselves web developers because they could use Dreamweaver.  Those people got into the market without any real skills to contribute anyway and *I believe* did more to damage the titles of "Web Developer" and "Webmaster" than anything else.
KC Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I find the the figures misleading in general. It appears that they just grouped anyone who wrote any HTML, C, or whatever into the "computer programmer" category.

A lot of those college dropouts and other dot-com developers gave the rest of the industry a bad name.

Things are much better now, but it's going to take a while. The Computer Engineering department at my graduate alma mater actually posted the following two items in their "news" links. Just complete garbage.

This link refers to the California Employment Development Department with yet another "the sky is falling" prediction and the need for computer software engineers will increase 43% by the year 2012. The article itself stinks, but what else is new.

This is another worthless graph that says nothing. My guess is they pulled the numbers out of their ass. The title for this?
"- Nov 8: The computer industry is back from the bust!"

If this industry was really back from the dot-com bust, then I would klike to ask the stupid question why there are still a lot of good engineers who are out of work.
QADude Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Friend who teaches CS reports enrollments way down even though every single CS graduate from the college has gotten a job, even the weakest ones.
sometimes unprepared
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I've said it before and I'll say it again... offshoring simply doesn't make sense for many specialized industries and sizes of company.  Do you really think it's cost effective for a small or even medium sized company to sack its small development department and then spend tons of money on outsourcing that talent?  I know a person at a large company which outsources some IT functions to Canada and she has a ton of problems and added costs.  And that's just north of the border!

In addition, a good developer will be very aware of the industry in which he/she works which allows that developer to actually understand the requirements that are being coded.  Most companies can't even figure out what those requirements are in the first place so they rely heavily on the developers to infer the needs of the end-users and react quickly to added requirements.  Having a bunch of code-monkeys at some offshore site simply isn't compatible with that.

I'm not a head-in-the-sand kind of person who feels that my job will never be outsourced, but I certainly feel secure in my employment and I'm not planning on proactively switching careers just in case I do get outsourced.
kmw Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
"If this industry was really back from the dot-com bust, then I would klike to ask the stupid question why there are still a lot of good engineers who are out of work."

Could be because they are pushing 40?
MBJ Send private email
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
"even though every single CS graduate from the college has gotten a job"

How did they even track this?
Art Wilkins
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
You can't keep a tech job after 40?

It looks like I have 3 more years left until I work as the heat lamp manager for McDonalds.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
"If this industry was really back from the dot-com bust, then I would klike to ask the stupid question why there are still a lot of good engineers who are out of work."

Coupla thoughts:
1) "recovering from the dot-com bust" doesn't mean "anyone who can read HTML can name their own salary" - it means IT employment is back to PREDOTCOM levels. However, the talent pool may still be somewhat overfull.
2) The bust shook things up - people who can't adapt may be flailing
3) The jobs may not be where they're looking

I know of a ton of opportunities in the DC area - everyone is hiring. 

Philo Send private email
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Lately things have been getting interesting here in Silicon Valley. Although there are a lot more people than jobs, the good ones are being snatched up very quickly.

In that respect, the market is getting hot, but only for the right people.
QADude Send private email
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

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