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Christian Science Monitor article on globalization
Thread poster: Dave Greatrix

Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
Jul 30, 2003

Last week, I was publicly accused of being an arrogant racist for posting the following:

"Is it just me, or has anyone else experienced a fall in workload in the last few months?

Could it be that the translators that work for practically nothing (India, Eastern Block) are making inroads into the industry??

Any thoughts?"

Yes, I'm baffled too.

However it would appear that I'm not alone with my concerns. Oh yes, BTW, my fall in workload was not due to my lack of marketing skills, as a couple of members had inferred. I have been offered a lot of work, but I was simply too expensive at 0.09 Euro!!

A colleague has just sent me the following article.
________________________________________

White-collar jobs moving abroad

A spate of new studies points to an exodus of skilled labor, from high-tech to financial services.

By Stacy A. Teicher | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

For decades, Americans watched as manufacturing plants set up shop overseas to capitalize on cheap labor. Ross Perot immortalized the anger many workers felt, vividly terming the potential exodus of jobs to Mexico that "giant sucking sound."
Now a growing number of US firms are sending coveted high-tech and service jobs "offshore" in a move that's reviving a debate about the future of the American workforce.


No longer is it just Disney toys and Nike shoes made in Haiti and Indonesia. It's software engineering, accounting, and product development being "outsourced" to India, the Philippines, Russia, and China.

The result is a growing backlash from unionists, contract workers, and erstwhile techies with time on their hands. More broadly, the trend raises a pointed question in an age of globalization: Is sending certain jobs offshore - even high-tech ones - better for the US economy, or does it just amount to more pink slips for American workers?

"Manufacturing is a small slice of the economy, and when people saw globalization creating instability there, a lot said, 'It's not my problem,' " says Josh Bivens, an economist at Washington's Economic Policy Institute. "Now white-collar workers are feeling it."

The number of such jobs now outsourced - from information technology (IT) to architecture - is less than half a percent of the US workforce. But it may grow fast:

• Half a million IT jobs - roughly 1 in 20 - will go abroad in the next 18 months, according to Gartner, a research firm in Stamford, Conn.

• Nearly 5 percent of human- resources jobs have moved offshore in the past year, and by 2007 that number will climb to at least 15 percent, says Jay Whitehead, publisher of HRO Today magazine, which tracks outsourcing.

• By 2015, 3.3 million US high-tech and service-industry jobs will be overseas, according to Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. That's 2 percent of the entire workforce, and $136 billion in US wages. Oracle, for instance, already has 2,000 employees in India and expects to move 2,000 software-development jobs, plus accounting, payroll, and customer-service positions.

Competition or a zero-sum game?

Granted, projecting to 2015 is risky. And even if these numbers pan out, some say there's no reason to panic: By staying competitive, the theory goes, companies will strengthen their positions in the new global order.

"If you look at history, we create new jobs in new areas to make up for what is outsourced," says Richard Hundley, lead author of a recent report by RAND's National Defense Research Institute. North America will still lead the technology revolution, the report says, partly because of a willingness to engage in "creative destruction" to stay on the innovative edge.

But others - particularly those whose jobs are lost - see overseas outsourcing as a zero-sum game, with US workers sacrificed for corporate profits. "America's leading companies are sending our best-paying jobs to cut labor costs.... I don't buy the idea that new jobs will be created," says Marcus Courtney, organizer of the Washington Alliance of Technical Workers (WashTech) in Seattle, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America.

In the past six months, as his union has led protests against offshoring plans at Microsoft and elsewhere, its e-mail list has grown from 2,000 to more than 15,000. Last week, the group publicized a recording - received from an IBM employee - of IBM senior executives on a conference call in March, talking of the need to send more jobs overseas, though acknowledging that it would upset domestic workers.

India: land of spices and IT jobs

It's unclear how much offshoring contributes to job cuts, despite anecdotes of techies who now work at Starbucks, pouring lattes with the precision of an engineer's eye. Mr. Hundley of RAND attributes job loss to the current economic doldrums, and says it will ebb. But Gartner's July 15 report estimates that through 2005, fewer than 4 out of 10 IT workers whose jobs go overseas will be redeployed by their own companies.

And the potential that some jobs are gone for good raises the question of how the economy can weather what seems, in turns, a boon and a blow.

Critics caution that while executives are under extreme pressure to cut costs, some of them may be too quick to outsource jobs higher up on the spectrum of creativity and skill. Companies are training developing nations' workforces to become America's competitors, says Basheer Janjua, CEO of Integnology Corp in Santa Clara, Calif., which offers domestic IT outsourcing.

"What's going to be the incentive for our future generations to get a degree in electrical engineering?" he asks. "We have to ask if we're ready to give up our pioneering position in the world."

Even offshoring's proponents agree that its real effects on US jobs need to be analyzed. WashTech recently persuaded two of the state's US representatives to call for a study by the General Accounting Office.

But people shouldn't be concerned about the best jobs leaving the country, says Mary Jo Morris, president of the Global Transformation Solutions Group at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), an IT outsourcing firm in Falls Church, Va. Offshoring, she says, is an irreversible trend, but "roles that create a lot of value will not go overseas, and more of those will develop as the industry matures."

Globalization's thorn in the side

Corey Goode, for one, has become a self-proclaimed thorn in Microsoft's side. Since June, when he watched his $40-an-hour contracting job sail to India and learned that the jobs of permanently employed colleagues in Las Colinas, Texas, would probably do the same, he's launched a website to protest offshoring and the use of skilled foreign labor in the US through special visas. Mr. Goode insists he's not out to stir up xenophobia. But he wants companies to see American employees as more than numbers. "Globalization is here to stay, and we're experiencing the growing pains," he says.

His is just one voice in a chorus gaining strength - and numbers - as offshoring gains steam. About half a dozen states are considering laws to make sure state contract work is performed within US borders. "If you want to enjoy the benefits of an unfettered free market, you can try to cushion the downside as well," says Mr. Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. Goode - and plenty of others - will clamor for government to do just that.






[Edited at 2003-07-31 08:10]


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Patricia Posadas  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:40
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
slow work Jul 30, 2003

I always have less work during the summer. I think this is a question of cycles rather than globalisation. Or perhaps it is my type of customers, who get busy September to December + February to April and frenetic during May & June. Personally I like to have calm summers, it is hot and the children are around etc.

As for the rest... let poor countries reach our level of development and we shall all have the same rates

This passage below taken from the text you quote seems more worrying to me! Apparently they are sure Western countries will keep well ahead! How can they be sure? Are they doing something to keep things this way?

"But people shouldn't be concerned about the best jobs leaving the country, says Mary Jo Morris, president of the Global Transformation Solutions Group at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), an IT outsourcing firm in Falls Church, Va. Offshoring, she says, is an irreversible trend, but "roles that create a lot of value will not go overseas, and more of those will develop as the industry matures."


[Edited at 2003-07-30 16:51]


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:40
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
cyclical, etc. Jul 30, 2003

Yes, David, but neither does this prove that *translation* jobs in Western language pairs go to the low-income-level countries you mentioned nor, if they are truly allocated elsewhere, has this process caused a plunge in jobs that you now bemoan. I believe our trade is cyclical with intimate relationships with the cycles in the financial and engineering/IT industries. As others have indicated, you'd hardly find Du>En translators based in these countries and charging rates that undercut yours. Do you actually believe that a Dutch/Belgian company would regularly outsource to India (admittedly with into-English translators) and cause a drop in orders for those living in Europe? It's most probably your peers and colleagues in your own backyard who undercut you.

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
German to English
+ ...
Arrogant racist? Jul 30, 2003

Perhaps not. But do you only buy goods manufactured in developed countries? Or do you, like the rest of us, buy clothes, shoes, foodstuffs, electronic equipment, and all manner of other goods at prices which are only possible because they are made in India, Romania, Taiwan or Mexico?

If so, what's the difference?

The export of blue-collar jobs from the developed to the developing world has been going on for decades.

What is now starting to happen is that the export of blue-collar jobs is being followed by that of white-collar jobs. Well, why not? Is it OK for blue-collar jobs to be done in Bongo-Bongo land, provided white collars are worn by white faces? If you think so, then yes, I think the term "arrogant racist" is appropriate.

Personally, I confess to being very concerned by the power of multinational businesses. Some of these businesses not only generate more turnover than the GDP of some countries (which I don't object to), they also have more power. But this phenomenon is not a function of the global poverty gap.

In any case, the people you accuse of taking "your" work away from you are not faceless multinationals. They are ordinary people, running one-man or one-woman businesses as best they can. They are not out to ruin you, or anyone else, financially - something that cannot be said for certain of many of the multinationals!

Nor are they working for a pittance. They are working for what may well be a very good income in their own country.

I see from your profile that you have lived in at least three different European countries in the course of at least twenty years. Surely then, you must appreciate that the mobility of labour and capital brought about by the EU is already resulting in a rapid alignment between countries which formerly had a huge differential in their standard of living?

Isn't that a good thing? And if so, shouldn't it extent to the rest of the world, and not just the EU? Or are you only interested in retaining your privileged status as resident of a rich country?

Marc

P.S. We are still giving the OmegaT translation memory software away free of charge. You can't undercut more than that! Bill Gates says that we're a "cancer", but the TM vendors themselves haven't complained, at least not yet. I wonder why?

[Edited at 2003-07-30 17:43]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:10
English to Tamil
+ ...
It is poetic justice Jul 30, 2003

Now a voice from India. If the IT jobs come to us, we deserve them as our software skills are of the highest order. If the price is low, well it is ok for our cost of living. In the matter of translations we are second to none as far as translation into English is concerned.
Now for the poetic justice part. India has been colonized by the British for around 300 years. The British killed our industry as they were interested in a captive market for their goods. The handloom weavers of Dacca had their thumbs cut. Even in the recent past the multinationals such as cocoa cola and Pepsi have crushed our local soft drink industry by dumping cheap drinks (initially the price of coke was kept very low). Once they have achieved their goal, they are merrily raising their prices. All these in the guise of globalization. By the same token we have become serious competitors in translations into English. But why protest now sir? It is poetic justice in operation and I am very much happy. As for translation rates I see that the jobs posted in Proz.com offer very low rates and I am getting better prices from my Indian clients.

[Edited at 2004-02-27 17:36]

[Edited at 2005-10-19 00:00]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:40
English to Italian
not quite so... Jul 30, 2003

[quote]MarcPrior wrote:


Surely then, you must appreciate that the mobility of labour and capital brought about by the EU is already resulting in a rapid alignment between countries which formerly had a huge differential in their standard of living?

[end quote]

These multinationals are still paying the workforce their own standard rates, which means they are not getting richer. The gap is still there. I'd still call it exploitation, since the multinationals are exploiting these people to get richer. I suppose having a poorly paid job is better than not having a job at all, right? But who's the fool?

Giovanni



[Edited at 2003-07-30 18:56]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
German to English
+ ...
Not quite so Jul 30, 2003

Yes Giovanni, you are right, there is still a differential in earnings and/or standard of living. But my point was that the gap is closing between countries of the EU (notably Germany, where I live, and Spain, where David lives). Some parts of Spain are now perhaps more prosperous than some parts of Germany. (A cynic may say that that's because there are more Germans in some parts of Spain than some parts of Germany. ) Differentials exist between prosperous and less prosperous regions, between urban and rural areas, and of course between skilled and unskilled activity. But the traditional north-south divide is closing, at least in Europe.

Marc


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:40
English to Italian
agree with Mark... Jul 31, 2003

...if we talk about Europe (although I think the phenomenon is less pronounced). In global terms, well..

G

[Edited at 2003-07-31 07:59]


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Ruben Berrozpe  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
German "occupation" Jul 31, 2003

MarcPrior wrote:

But my point was that the gap is closing between countries of the EU (notably Germany, where I live, and Spain, where David lives). Some parts of Spain are now perhaps more prosperous than some parts of Germany. (A cynic may say that that's because there are more Germans in some parts of Spain than some parts of Germany. )



Well Marc, that was real fun!
I agree with you, also with everything else you mentioned.
It's a good issue to discuss this one. Let's do it with a cold head - I think all of us will learn a lot.

Rb


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:40
Member (2004)
German to English
Well, one alternative Jul 31, 2003

would be for us all to move to one of those countries that have a lower cost of living - then we would all live like royals.

We could also have a discussion on the quality offered by those charging low prices ... or a slightly different one on only translating into one's native language.

I read a book once by Bill Bryson - Mother Tongue - really enjoyed it. In that book he talks about the differences between American and British English and points out that in the 200 or so years that Americans were surviving and building a nation their language didn't develop a great deal. On the other side of the pond the British continued to develop their language, e.g. getting rid of "gotten". So now that America is exporting its language those that use American English all over the world are actually using a less developed form. (By the way he's American not British!!) Now you could take this further and say maybe English as a global language should "develop" back to a level that is only understood by those learning it as a second language. This would mean turning the clock back - but at least non-native speakers would understand what was going on - or maybe not!! So would we then be paid less for producing a lower quality of translation - actually I should think it would be more difficult for a native speaker to translate as if s/he were a non-native one. What do you think?


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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 18:40
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
global English? Jul 31, 2003

Gillian Noameshie wrote:

"...would be for us all to move to one of those countries that have a lower cost of living - then we would all live like royals.

We could also have a discussion on the quality offered by those charging low prices ... or a slightly different one on only translating into one's native language.

... Now you could take this further and say maybe English as a global language should "develop" back to a level that is only understood by those learning it as a second language. This would mean turning the clock back - but at least non-native speakers would understand what was going on - or maybe not!! So would we then be paid less for producing a lower quality of translation - actually I should think it would be more difficult for a native speaker to translate as if s/he were a non-native one. What do you think?


This problem between native and non-native translations is delicate because people are instantly offended but it is a problem nonetheless. You can be a wonderful student, study all the time, take courses, get certificates, etc. but nothing will ever replace the gut instinct a person has when translating into his/her own native language. There are now people translating from one foreign language into a second foreign language and stating they do just as well as the native speakers. Well, they may be ok up to a point, but it will always be clear that the job was not done by a native. When mistranslations and erroneous terms and phrases start to cost hard cash in terms of lawsuits or lost sales, things may change once again. Cat tools, the WWW and even Proz seem to have given many the courage to accept jobs clearly beyond them. Just for example, there was a man on the Dutch site last week who wanted the "Dutch" term managementfee translated into English. Neither language was his mother tongue and Dutch was not even listed on his profile page, but he became very indignant when we suggested perhaps he should work within his own language areas. This is an extreme case of professional incompetency but I think companies are indicating a definite policy choice when handing assignments outside the source and the target language areas.
By the way, we are focussing on English, but this is happening with other languages too.


[Edited at 2003-07-31 19:36]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
German to English
+ ...
So now we know Aug 1, 2003

... what the problem is on the translation market:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I see that the jobs posted in Proz.com offer very low rates and I am getting better prices from my Indian clients.


Too many Cheaps, not enough Indians!

Marc


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:40
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
:-))) Aug 1, 2003

MarcPrior wrote:
Now we know...
... what the problem is on the translation market:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I see that the jobs posted in Proz.com offer very low rates and I am getting better prices from my Indian clients.


Too many Cheaps, not enough Indians!

Marc




[Edited at 2003-08-01 14:09]


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:40
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
:-))) Aug 1, 2003



[Edited at 2003-08-01 16:52]


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David Sirett
Local time: 18:40
French to English
+ ...
Copyright? Aug 1, 2003

David Greatrix wrote:

A colleague has just sent me the following article.
________________________________________

White-collar jobs moving abroad ...


Have you not heard of copyright laws, or are you just wilfully disregarding them?

The CSM has a very clear policy on reproduction and copyright: http://www.csmonitor.com/aboutus/copyright.html

David


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Christian Science Monitor article on globalization

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