Now that foreign H-1Bs have flooded the IT job market in the USA and many firms are simply "off-shoring" their IT work to Asia, is there a future?
First of all, I'm not sure I accept that "H-1Bs have flooded the IT job market in the USA." What exactly does that mean? Are there more H-1B workers than Americans in the U.S. IT industry? I think not. But setting that aside for the moment...
I think there is a future for IT professionals who are willing to adapt in order to remain competitive in today's changing market.
In the 1970s, the U.S. auto industry faced stiff competition from Japan. Protectionism didn't work; Americans bought Japanese cars because they offered consumers what they wanted: improved fuel efficiency at lower cost. In order to compete, Detroit had to adapt in order to meet Americans' needs as effectively as the Japanese were.
Similarly, if U.S. companies are hiring H-1B employees or sending IT work offshore, it's because foreign workers are meeting those companies' needs better than Americans are willing or able to. In order to compete, Americans must adapt: Are we willing to relocate to where the jobs are? Are we willing to work as diligently as foreign workers without demanding unreasonably high compensation? If coding becomes a commodity, are we willing to learn new skills, such as architecture, design, or project management, to distinguish ourselves and justify the salaries we desire?
Where do Americans work in, say, the garment industry? Hint: It's not in the sewing sweatshops. We learned long ago that, to make a decent wage in that industry, we needed to learn new skills to justify that wage. The IT industry now faces a similar situation. Those willing to adapt will remain competitive and employable; the others should perhaps consider changing careers. Or moving to India.
Posted by T. Hoskins on March 22, 2003:
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