A majority of Americans think the U.S. government and industry should be doing more to keep jobs at home and forgo overseas outsourcing, according to a new study.
And as fewer and fewer college students are studying computer science, analysts say the number of U.S. high-tech jobs going to foreign workers will only continue to increase.
”The reliance on foreign workers and the debate surrounding the practice will likely intensify in the years to come as a shortage of skilled workers becomes more and more pronounced,” says John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an international outplacement firm based in Chicago.
Challenger notes that the high-tech industry has been feeling the effects of offshore outsourcing and that will only increase over the next several years. ”Similar problems will be experienced by all industries as labor and skill shortages take hold,” he adds. ”when that happens, more and more companies will have to find alternatives, which may mean outsourcing work to other countries where workers with the right skills are more readily available.”
The Challenger, Gray & Christmas study shows that 67 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that American companies rely too heavily on foreign workers and are not doing enough to cultivate domestic talent. Five percent strongly disagreed.
Another 76 percent agree or strongly agree that the government could be doing more to retain longtime and/or chronically unemployed workers so they can enter new careers.
”This issue is becoming increasingly controversial as a growing number of cost-conscious companies are farming out responsibilities to vendors as far away as China, India and South Korea, where skilled workers are plentiful and less costly,” says Challenger.
This will increasingly be an issue as American students, largely lacking in science, math and computer skills, find this is what the labor force is looking for. The outplacement firm reports that a survey of colleges found that enrollment in key courses for computer science majors was down anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent last year.
Forrester Research, an industry analyst company, reports that by 2015, 3.3 million white collar jobs, including many in math and information technology, will move to countries like Russia, India and China. A Forrester survey shows that one-third of IT decision makers at North American companies say they use offshore services now and plan to spend more money on them in the future.
”We may be forced to reconsider the education system in this country in order to better prepare tomorrow’s workforce and make sure that our young people are armed with the basic and technical skills,” says Challenger. ”This may mean year-round schooling and more emphasis on practical, hands-on education versus rote memorization of facts and standardized testing.”