Offshoring in a downturn

I got a note from a friend, a quality IT recruiter who has been in the recruitment profession for many years. His comments:

“I am seeing hundreds of people on the market at the moment.  Top quality candidates that can’t find work.  Some of them have been on the market since November.  And yet I still see companies in Australia offshoring jobs.  It seems that while the times were good the ‘offshoring jobs’ had little impact on employment in Australia.  But now (downturn market) it seems to be seriously impacting unemployment rates in the IT space. It seems that most companies in the top 100 ASX have offshore IT jobs in some capacity.

I think the Australian Government needs to do more to protect jobs in Australia.  Immigration is still breaking records year on year with the volume of professionals entering the country but all I am seeing at the moment is no jobs for them to go into.”

Economic downturns have the tendency to bring out simmering wounds into the open. When times were good the impact of offshoring was negligible, partly because those effected were absorbed by strong local demands. The debate on offshoring has been re-ignited, in the backdrop of a recessionary climate , triggered by recent spikes in the number of jobs exported.

There are no easy answers. Every country grapples with the difficult task of drawing a line between protectionism and integrating with the global market. Both proponents and detractors have valid points. However, the reality of offshoring is its ability to change individual lives, even whole industries, for good or bad.  As immediate beneficiary of jobs residing in Australia, the recruitment industry in particular is nervous about offshoring. My good friend has every right to worry and fight for his livelihood, as much as companies are obliged to work in the best interests of their shareholders.

So, what is your opinion on offshoring. Should the government protect Australian jobs especially in the current economic environment? Or should Australia embrace globalisation and let market forces decide the fate of workers? Can offshoring be stopped at all? Is there a good balance?

Other resources:
Business Council of Australia’s view –  Offshoring not a threat to Australia.
An Australian bank’s opinion on offshoring.
Australian Computer society’s position on offshoring
Australia is judged to be an ideal place for offshoring – If jobs were exported to Australia. Would we complain?
McKinsey exhaustive study on the offshoring phenomena

2 replies
  1. Gill
    Gill says:

    Hi Philip

    I agree with this statement:

    “I think the Australian Government needs to do more to protect jobs in Australia. Immigration is still breaking records year on year with the volume of professionals entering the country but all I am seeing at the moment is no jobs for them to go into.”

    I have been recruiting in this industry for 22 years, and seen a lot during this time.

    I specialize in Accountancy, and every week I receive emails from people in Australia whom have arrived on the “skills” visa and seeking employment, these applicant have experience within their own country, however, employers in the Tax field do not want them if they do not have Australian Tax experience. They say they take too long to train, we don’t have the time. These applicants end up working in retail or labour jobs, its a shame, however, the immigration department continue to send them over. I believe that we have enough now, we cant even find jobs for our own Australian people and that saddens me greatly.

    This has been happening for a while now, what a waste, they all end up on our dole system.

    Have a great day.

    Regards

    Gill

    Reply

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