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Outsourcing North America?

— By Cynthia Yoo — Fast fading is the assumption that North American high-tech workers are protected from outsourcing if…

By Cynthia Yoo , in Business City Technology , on October 25, 2007

— By Cynthia Yoo —

Fast fading is the assumption that North American high-tech workers are protected from outsourcing if they work in complex projects. The common belief was that it was too difficult to coordinate high-quality work over differing time-zones and cultural and language barriers.

“Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter anymore if you manufacture fruit-of-the-loom underwear or complex code,” stated Marcus Courtney of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. Economic chauvinism?

“Companies want to find out…who can do the work cheapest and they move their facilities, products and services around the globe to do that. Boeing’s Dreamliner project in the Northwest is a perfect example of this. It’s simply a myth that white-collar jobs are simply too complex, too difficult for their companies to outsource,” said Courtney.

Nonetheless, others are not convinced that temporary foreign worker visas are used to outsource jobs. “Short-term visa programs are functional. They are trying to meet labour shortages without committing to having more foreigners permanently,” said Anthony D’Costa, Professor of Comparative International Development at the University of Washington.

“How many will come in the short term is difficult to say but I am certain not large enough to displace local workers wholesale. Besides, employers want good quality professionals and the world does not have an infinite supply of them,” said D’Costa.

D’Costa asked: “Which would you prefer? Foreign workers coming to Canada and working and spending their earnings in Canada or Canadian firms doing the work abroad using foreign workers and earning profits for the Canadian shareholders?”

Links:

Chinese-Canadians’ answers to questions we posted in a forum on a local Chinese-community website

Seattle journalist Todd Bishop’ informative blog on Microsoft

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