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Report: Outsourcing is here to stay
By Jacqui Cheng

Speaking at Stanford earlier this week, Rice University's Professor Moshe Vardi said that IT is still a good, viable career choice despite increases in outsourcing by US companies. Based on a report issued by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in February, his comments reflect an optimistic attitude toward the current IT job market and describe "offshoring" as a symptom of an increasingly globalized economy. The report is the result of a one-year study surveying the global migration of software jobs conducted by a panel of over 30 economists, social scientists and computer scientists from the US, Europe, India, Israel, and Japan. The conclusion: with minor qualifications, the IT job market in the US is doing very well, and tech companies are even hurting for more IT workers in the US.

Vardi and the report claim that "speculative data" about offshoring led to a fear among computer science students that once they finished their degrees, there would be no jobs, causing many students shying away from technology studies in school. This, the report says, has then caused something of a shortage of IT workers in recent years, which the report claims can be helped by relaxing H1B policies to "help US companies find skilled workers," enrolling more of our own students in computer science, and making sure they all dutifully become dues-paying ACM members.

Critics are not quite as optimistic about the state of the IT job market as the ACM and Professor Vardi. UC Davis's Professor Norman Matloff, a famed critic of H1B policies, said the SFGate in February that "the deans and the department chairs are absolutely panicked because enrollment is plummeting," adding that "satisfying" jobs in CS are most certainly not going up. The Bueau of Labor Statistics backs up this claim—while jobs in IT are generally going up, computer programming in particular is growing "much more slowly than that of other computer specialties."

Matloff also wrote in his offshoring newsletter that one of the panelists for the ACM report, Rob Ramer, contacted him directly, saying that the atmosphere on the ACM panel was rather discouraging to those with dissenting opinions:

"Our sub-committee was often seen as alternatively right-wing or anti-business extremists...because we kept raising dissenting voices about the pro-offshoring mantra. It was a pretty much a consensus among the rest of the committees that we were the 'spoil-sports,' even though we repeatedly stated that few to none of us were 'anti-outsourcing' in all situations, all we were calling for was an examination of the problems as well as the glowing success stories. Of course, factual examination is 'spoiling the sport' of spin."

"Globalization of, and offshoring within, the software industry are deeply connected and both will continue to grow," notes the ACM report, which may be one of the only uncontested statements that can be taken away from it.

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