Jul 13, 2007

The Job That Won't Get Outsourced

I just finished reading an article on a popular website that was called "Jobs That Won't Get Outsourced." Now, the topic caught my eye, because my company ARRiiVE is focused on helping people create empowered environments (harder to do when you outsource). So, what are the industries that present these downsizing-proof jobs?

Examples given included CONSTRUCTION, EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, REAL ESTATE, and MILITARY. All I could think was, Hmm. I think the author is WRONG!

That's right, wrong. No offense, but as many comment bloggers noted, each of these industries are being impacted as much as the notorious call centers, customer service, and programming shops in India, China, and Mexico. We're starting to see more of the legal profession, salespeople, architects, and other careers impacted by outsourcing, too.

Outsourcing will happen any time the head of an industry can see a way to lower costs. And, in a world that is now a "global" economy, who do you think will cost less: the job/cost of an American who lives 2.6 people per household with a $39,452.74 per capita? Or the job/cost of an Indian who lives 2.7 per ROOM with a $640.47 per capita? (source: NationMaster) Isn't it obvious to you what is going on in the world? Are way of life in America is threatening the very job we wish to keep secure!

NO JOB IS SAFE FROM OUTSOURCING. I'll say it again: NO JOB is safe from OUTSOURCING. Now, if you're a teacher, once you are tenured, your job is pretty safe. But, on the whole, outsourcing is hitting every industry imaginable.

Outsourcing irritations: why do people get upset about outsourcing?Well, if you've had your job outsourced to a foreign country and all your friends in your division let go and looking for work, you could probably share first-hand about the frustrations of outsourcing just from the loss of jobs, let alone impact upon hard-working American families, children, and spouses. Perhaps Outsourcing is a popular topic if you manufacture Prozac or Zanax, but otherwise it probably brings up feelings of anger or concern. After all, downsizing is never pretty.

Almost everyone who calls an outsourced customer support line knows that when you're expecting an English-speaking support agent to help you, but then line get frustrated trying to explain your problem you're already upset about with the hard-to-understand foreign accent only adding to confusion, it can be frustrating to deal with outsourced call centers. One of my hosting companies provides support from the Philippines. I had a dickens of a time trying to get the site live, until I complained and threatened to pull my account, then the hosting firm escalated my email to the American headquarters and pronto - problem solved in one email.

Amazing how support may not always be the same level with outsourced centers. So, that is another one of the problems. I could go on and complain for quite a while, but there are probably many people who would defend call center outsourcing by saying they've experienced lesser hold time and more satisfaction in some cases, too, to be fair.

My own company, ARRiiVE Business Solutions, offers an outsourced "Acting VP of Sales" program, not to replace your VP of Sales but to give you insights into your selling process that otherwise you could not get from a typical salesperson or manager. I don't know how I can offer that same service only serving as a consultant. So, there are cases where it can be truly helpful to outsource. And, when you're multiplying costs of $20 per event x 80,000 events, you start to get into pretty serious cost savings that make it hard to resisst outsourcing.

Now, let's take construction, for example. Aren't we seeing changes in the labor force in that industry? I've seen changes in this industry in California. Why couldn't someone come here from China or India build a building better than an American labor force? After all, was it not China who had the roadroad chain gangs that laid much of the rail lines across America over 100 years ago? I'd say construction is not a safe industry from outsourcing.

We're utilizing more and more online education as a way of learning. In fact, schools are going to more and more online methods to reduce their costs of teaching. Classrooms are getting bigger, not smaller. And, there's a lack of qualified teachers in many areas, but in others, teaching jobs are hard to come by. Consider that school districts have largely done away with such positions as Vocational Education (my father can talk to you about this - he taught machine shop) and many music programs (sniff - I grew up playing my sax in the schools bands).

Today, most of the machine shops are located, guess where: CHINA! That's right. One of my best friends runs a machine shop. Fortunately for him, he has the talent to do the rare jobs that nobody else can do. So, his shop was spared the closings that occurred during the mass outsourcing and shop closures of the early 21st century. But all around him the machine shops shut down and their business, just like Nixon, went to China. In 2000, the Chinese bought up so much of the metal supplied that it became very expensive in America to compete. Welcome to the global economy. So, vocational education has been replaced with courses on computers, graphic design, and programming. But, have those jobs been outsourced? You betcha!

Education will continue to be impacted by outsourcing in the coming years.

Healthcare. I read one post that said a surgical procedure in America costs $72,000. That same procedure costs $12,000 in India. According to Travelocity, I can fly roundtip leaving San Francisco on August 21st and returning August 28th from New Delhi, India right now for: $1,550.00. Add that to the $12,000, and I think I might consider that surgery in India. Insurance or no insurance, I might save a lot of money. So, yes, healthcare is going to be affected by outsourcing, too. I already know travelling nurses are becoming a bigger profession to fill rotating needs at hospitals. More changes in healthcare are surely coming as this overpriced industry is poised, in fact, for a crash, if you ask me.

Next, Real Estate. Wait, did I just say healthcare was poised for a crash? Well, what about Real Estate? With the boom that has gone on the past 5 years, with rates well under 10%, people have boosted real estate into a bubble almost as dangerously speculative as technology stocks in the year 2000. The general rule of thumb on an investment, for fair market value, is 8.5%. Once the rates go above 8.5%, we'll see the market decline. Do you think that's going to happen soon? If and when it does, do you think we might see more real estate positions (brokers, etc.) outsourced? Yeah, I think so, too.

Last, the military. Well, I don't know about you, but if we're not in a war your military job isn't very safe from outsourcing. The military can hire many things to replace people. Technology replaces people. But, more than that, I see robots becoming more and more of a factor in military settings. (Why get human beings killed when we can send a robot to do their dirty work?) Okay, so I'm jumping into the future and pondering a world of Terminators with that comment. But, don't you think ANY industry is vulnerable to outsourcing?

That's my point.

Therefore, the only JOB that isn't vulnerable to outsourcing is that of the ENTREPRENEUR.

That's right, the person who starts a business, not self-employed, as a plumber, hair salon, or some other self-employed service job may still be vulnerable, but the entrepreneur who is creating cash-flow through some mechanism is probably the only person safe from outsourcing.

That's why I became an entrepeneur. Well, not exactly. I'm just driven to do things and adverse to risk. But, being an entrepreneur is the only way I can see clear of the problem with outsourcing. It's a crazy world, but there's always been a career that has been impacted by lower prices, change in demand, technological advances, and influence of trade with other countries. Ask a horseshoer, blacksmith, farmer, and machinist how they like their job today. You'll be looking for a while before you find one of these people, yet, not so long ago those were some of the top JOB descriptions in the census. (Source: my mother's geneology work!)

What do you have to say about outsourcing? Do you think it is for real? Think you've got an idea how to protect yourself and your career from outsourcing? Let's discuss!

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