re: Outsourcing Or Automation: No Difference To Unemployed Workers
Automation is a good thing for many reasons. In short automation helps the company improve processes in order to achieve consistent results while also achieving operational efficiency gains. This is a natural course of a company's evolution. Sure workers can be adversely affected by automation choices, when a company decides to automate it takes time to put such into place. This is where the worker is at least given a wake up call to either change positions, improve their skill sets or seek employment elsewhere.
By contrast, when you talk about outsourcing, this is a management decision based primarily on greed over need. When outsourcing first became all the rage in the 1980's, companies were able to mimic services provided by CSR's and IT programmers for pennies on the dollar when compared to their American counterparts. The outsourcing linchpins were countries like India or China; later it became Russia, Belarus and some countries in South America. Back then many firms handled the public outcry by decreeing that the outsourced positions were low-level jobs and such a move would help the company provide better services to the consuming public, or it would help the company better compete in a growing global marketplace. In addition, many firms stated that outsourcing would also help free up American workers to do more important work. While companies saved on wages, benefits and some capital expenditures, many firms suffered from increased customer service complaints and the unforeseen cost of reworking outsourced coding products due to differing logical thinking.
Since those early days to now, a vast amount of data out has been compiled that has proven that outsourcing did not improve customer service as originally touted, nor did outsourcing help a company gain efficiencies in order to better compete. Outsourcing did not even help create new ways to re-utilize American workers. Instead, what outsourcing did was displace many American workers for the sake of short-term profits and short-term operational gains. As a veteran and senior IT leader I know first-hand how outsourcing decisions are made and I also know all too well the affects it has on impacted workers. While those choices may have helped me once or twice in my bonus plan, it never felt good, morally speaking. One will never understand the effects of outsourcing until they are on the receiving end of a 30-day notice that their job is going away and then they realize that they are middle aged, they have a home to care for, a mortgage, and two kids in school to worry about. Maybe that explains why I give a lot of money to charity!
It's time that American firms realize that in order to create a better America, they need to care about the employment of Americans for Americans. We need to recognize that we will never compete on a price level; the American value proposition needs to be on quality...something we once were highly regarded for, and something we can again recapture. We also need to recognize that all Americans will not be MBA holders nor will we be a society of complete affluence...that is only capable in fictional writings. The truth of the matter is that a percentage of our society will only be CSR's, moderate level programmers, or accounting clerks at best. That is not a demeaning statement of the person or of the position, it is simply the hard truth. Many in those positions do not have the support or means to re-educate or reinvent themselves at will. Many want to have the American dream but do not go through the pains to get it and keep it...and honestly speaking there is nothing wrong with that -- not everyone can be CIO, CFO or CEO. Many in our society are simply seeking a job they are proud of and one that meets their needs, or their interpretation of the "American dream".
The American corporation can do more and should. As a society, we need to be content about the profits we are yielding for now and focus on rebuilding this great country of ours. We need to stop selling our soul for the sake of the almighty dollar because the truth of the matter is that those benefiting the most from outsourcing are a very few whereas the rest of us hold on to the dream of possibilities...