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Outsourcing vendor to move 'higher-level' IT jobs offshore

Patrick Thibodeau | Nov. 5, 2008
Vendor plans to increase the number of employees working offshore by 4,200 during its current fiscal year, which began July.

FRAMINGHAM, 4 NOVEMBER 2008 - IT workers and managers who believe their jobs are too high-level to be sent overseas may want to look at Affiliated Computer Services Inc.'s plan to boost its offshore outsourcing operations by moving "more complex, higher paying" jobs to countries outside the U.S.

Dallas-based ACS, which provides IT and business process outsourcing services to a wide range of corporate and government clients, currently employs about 63,000 people, 20,000 of them in low-cost offshore locations. But in a conference call last Thursday on its financial results for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, ACS detailed plans to increase the number of employees working offshore by 4,200 during its current fiscal year, which began July.

"To have a greater financial impact, we will be moving a higher percentage of more complex, higher paying jobs offshore, including management and application development roles," ACS President and CEO Lynn Blodgett said during the call.

ACS has been gradually shifting jobs to offshore and near-shore centers in the Philippines, Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala and India. In its 2006 fiscal year, just under 25% of the company's workforce was based outside of the U.S. Now, nearly 35% of its workers are overseas, according to a presentation used by ACS officials during the conference call.

Tom Burlin, chief operating officer at ACS, filled in some of the details about the jobs that will be affected by the additional offshore moves. "We've done a great job in moving base production-level jobs offshore but have decided," he said, "to aggressively move more of our higher-level jobs, like production managers, higher-level back-office functions and higher-level development roles, to lower- cost locations."

Company said the expected savings from offshoring will give ACS more money to invest in areas such as sales, innovation and development of new products. "This is the right thing to do and the right time to do it," Blodgett said. "This investment will make us stronger, not only during this economic storm, but for years to come."

"High-level jobs are just as vulnerable [to offshoring] as mid- and low-level jobs," said Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and co-author of the book Outsourcing America . Every IT services firm, big or small, is shifting more advanced technology jobs offshore, Hira said.

"For U.S. IT workers, look out: You're not going to be safe," he added. "The Wall Street analysts will be pushing companies even more to accelerate their offshoring projects. This is just the beginning of a shift of technological capabilities to low-cost countries." The relocation of jobs, Hira claimed, is being "aided and abetted by horrible U.S. public policies that subsidize these shifts."

 

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