RealTime IT News

Gartner: 1/4 of U.S. IT Jobs Offshored by 2010

Six years from now, one quarter of traditional U.S. IT jobs will be done offshore, in countries like India and China, according to new predictions from researchers at one of the top industry analyst firms.

Today, an estimated 5 percent or fewer of U.S. IT jobs have been offshored, according to Diane Morello, vice president in research at Gartner, Inc. By 2010, 25 percent will be situated in emerging countries.

But Morello adds that not all of those jobs being done overseas will mean that American workers were laid off. She says that a good percentage of American IT workers will be laid off as their jobs are shipped to countries like India, the Philippines, Malaysia and China. But some of those jobs will be created by U.S. companies opening IT operations in those countries, bypassing the middle man of outsourcing companies and, at times, avoiding layoffs here by starting new IT programs there.

''This has certainly already started,'' says Morello. ''Not all of that 25 percent will represent jobs moving from one place to another. Some will grow in those areas and fuel and feed businesses there... We're talking about a company like Bank of America that might set up operations somewhere else, or Reuters that has set up IT operations in Thailand. It's a global expansion.''

Gartner first announced its predicts at an IT conference in Barcelona, Spain last week. Ian Marriott, a Gartner vice president, told the European crowd that this estimate is not just for the United States, but includes many developed countries.

''Global sourcing is becoming a mainstream delivery model,'' Marriott told conference attendees. ''The potential cost advantages are so persuasive that companies that don't consider it, seriously risk doing their shareholders a disservice. Businesses will also be put at risk due to loss of competitive advantage and inability to focus on growth through innovation.''

India, according to Gartner, remains the offshoring leader, taking in more jobs formerly held by Americans and Europeans than any other country. China and Russia are emerging as strong contenders, though. China is seen a potential outsourcing giant with a huge population of educated workers who earn a significantly lower wage than their counterparts here in the states.

Offshoring Becomes a Speeding Train

While Gartner's offshoring predictions are high, they're not alone in believing that offshoring is quickly picking up steam.

Forrester Research, a leading Massachusetts-based analyst firm, recently predicted that $136 billion in wages, or 3.3 million jobs, will move offshore in the next 15 years.

And this week, Deloitte Research announced predictions that by 2008, 275,000 jobs in the telecom industry will be offshored. That number accounts for five percent of the industry's 5.5 million member labor force.

The Deloitte report also states that of the telecom companies already offshoring or planning on offshoring, they cite a 20% to 30% reduction in IT costs within four years, higher quality tech support and accelerated time-to-market for advanced data services and applications.

''For most companies, it's not a question of whether to off-shore, but what functions to off-shore, and how,'' says Phil Asmundson, deputy managing director of Deloittes Technology, Media and Telecommunications in the U.S.

Obviously, those cost savings are attributed to the dramatic difference in wages between the U.S. and many European countries and emerging countries like India and the Philippines.

Kevin Schwartz, a senior vice president of business operations at E5 Systems Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based IT outsourcing company, says the salary differences are staggering.

An entry-level programmer right out of college in the United States can expect to earn between $50,000 and $60,000 a year. In China, the salary for that same type of worker would be $5,000 to $6,000. In India, she would earn $8,000 to $10,000.

''Will one-quarter of IT jobs be offshore in six years? I'd say it's possible,'' says Schwartz. ''Is it probable? At today's clip, I'd say yes. I lean that way because China is in its infancy for It outsourcing, so more jobs will move there. And India continues to be a huge player. We're looking at a giant pool of qualified IT people... you're not giving up anything for that lower price.''

Go to the next page for one analyst who calls Gartner's predictions 'alarmism'.