Outsourcing Is Climbing Skills Ladder

Further confirmation that the “World is Flat”: According to the New York Times’ Steve Lohr, Outsourcing Is Climbing Skills Ladder.

The globalization of work tends to start from the bottom up. The first jobs to be moved abroad are typically simple assembly tasks, followed by manufacturing, and later, skilled work like computer programming. At the end of this progression is the work done by scientists and engineers in research and development laboratories.

The implications for students in “The West” are profound. Forget competing with a handful of classmates for admission to the best universities. You are actually competing with literally millions of other students who are just as bright and – because they hunger for what we take for granted – probably more determined to succeed. The error is to think of these “best and brightest” from India and China as our competition. They are actually our colleagues and co-workers.

Still, more companies in the survey said they planned to decrease research and development employment in the United States and Europe than planned to increase employment.

Rather than moan about the inevitable, one real positive is that we can forget the lie that we are educating students for the workforce. We can focus on the Truth of Learning and Education: can’t our job be to help students reach for their own individual fulfillment? Isn’t an inspired, enthusiastic and engaged country of learners the best we can offer? Why don’t we test them on this every year? 😉

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3 Responses to Outsourcing Is Climbing Skills Ladder

  1. Spot on – those competing in technical jobs which speak a global language will become increasingly more difficult. Fortunately there will always be a need for people to manage projects and do marketing – that is one thing that cannot be outsourced with any success.

  2. M. de B. says:

    Hi Tom, I found your website through http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/China/hotlist.html looking for interesting sites about China (as I work for http://www.chinasuccessstories.com/ ) and this post made me think of what as happening in The Netherlands where outsourcing on each and every level of business seems to have become the norm. And – interestingly enough – the main reason NOT being better off by choosing to outsource, but as a way of avoiding responsibility for actions. The it-wasn’t-me, so to speak. Education is more vital in today’s global economy, I think, on matters as these (real motivations behind certain choices), then ever before as a result of more difficult to understand / get a grip on outsourcing issues. Especially when international outsourcing is concerned. Would you agree?
    Kind regards,
    Michael de Boer

  3. tom says:

    Hi,

    Thanks both of you for commenting. I can get a theoretical grasp of the situation by reading the press, but your points about what can’t be outsourced and the “real” rationale behind some decisions suggests creative and critical education is important.

    Thanks again,

    Tom —

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