The economic signs are starting to point to the end of the recession. The decrease in real gross domestic product slowed in the second quarter to an annual rate of 1 percent. In the past six weeks, we've seen spending increases in the stock market. And other leading economic indicators have been advancing as well.
Yet, as a technical professional, you may still be in need of clarity in order to set your career on the right path to ensure employment in the future.
How will the business and technology trends we are experiencing now affect the availability of IT jobs five to 10 years down the road? Will your job exist in a decade, or will you find yourself in search of another way to apply your skills?
Although the hoped-for benefits of outsourcing aren't always realized, employers aren't going to stop sending jobs overseas. Recent advances in telecommunications and collaboration tools (think videoconferencing) are making it easier to manage an offshore workforce. And the fact that foreign wages have remained lower than U.S. salaries makes outsourcing a viable option for many companies looking to cut costs.
At the same time, though, businesses now recognize that outsourcing is not synonymous with offshoring. Certain functions can be on-shored or near-shored -- that is, moved off-site from the company location but kept within the U.S. Doing so mitigates some of the typical challenges of offshoring, such as the need to address cultural differences or language barriers.
Historically, what we've seen is the commoditization and eventual export of low-level skills into markets that can provide certain services faster and cheaper than we can in the U.S. Consequently, we're seeing fewer and fewer jobs at the programming task level (i.e., coding) domestically. But there are still significant gaps in the ability of offshore providers to architect, manage, document and troubleshoot development projects.
What does all this mean for you? As you proactively manage your career, focus on developing skills that will complement, rather than be cannibalized by, outsourcing. For example, to some programming professionals, the thought of managing a team is terrifying. However, successful outsourcing relationships require U.S. liaisons and managers who can interact with offshore resources to keep projects on track.