Drivers and Trends
How is the Global Economy mandating internationally-savvy engineers?
Business Week, in February, 2003, stunned many with their article, The New Global Job Shift, which has far-reaching implications for technology workers all over the world. The United States and Western Europe are outsourcing high-tech jobs in record numbers to Eastern Europe, Asia, and India.
Here are a few staggering excerpts:
"The next round of globalization is sending upscale jobs offshore--at incredibly lower cost and with similar resulting quality. They include basic research, chip design, engineering--even financial analysis. Who wins? Who loses?
Near Bangalore's airport (India), at the offices of Wipro Ltd., five audiologists interpret 30 CT scans a day for Massachusetts General Hospital.
Consider Manila, Shanghai, Budapest, or San José, Costa Rica. These cities--and dozens more across the developing world--have become the new back offices for Corporate America, Japan Inc., and Europe GmbH.
- The driving forces are digitization, the Internet, and high-speed data networks that girdle the globe. These days, tasks such as drawing up detailed architectural blueprints, slicing and dicing a company's financial disclosures, or designing a revolutionary microprocessor can easily be performed overseas.
Indeed, a case can be made that the U.S. will see a net gain from this shift--as with previous globalization waves. In the 1990s, Corporate America had to import hundreds of thousands of immigrants to ease engineering shortages. Now, by sending routine service and engineering tasks to nations with a surplus of educated workers, the U.S. labor force and capital can be redeployed to higher-value industries and cutting-edge R&D.
- By spurring economic development in nations such as India, meanwhile, U.S. companies will have bigger foreign markets for their goods and services.
Architectural work is going global, too. Fluor Corp. of Aliso Viejo, California., employs 1,200 engineers and draftsmen in the Philippines, Poland, and India to turn layouts of giant industrial facilities into detailed specs and blueprints.
Globalization trailblazers, such as GE, AmEx, and Citibank, have spent a decade going through the learning curve and now are ramping up fast. Outsourcing experts say the big job migration has just begun."
Business Week concludes the article with this, "The rise of the global knowledge industry is so recent that most economists haven't begun to fathom the implications. For developing nations, the big beneficiaries will be those offering the speediest and cheapest telecom links, investor-friendly policies, and ample college grads. In the West, it's far less clear who will be the big winners and losers. But we'll soon find out."
If you are planning a career in engineering or any high-tech field, be prepared to succeed not just in your own country, but the global knowledge industry.