Friday, December 10, 2010

Onshoring, the new offshoring

Us software developers have had to live with offshoring for years. And I can understand why companies do it. If software isn’t your raison d'ĂȘtre then why not outsource it, and if you’re going to outsource it, why not send it offshore where you can get probably the work done cheaper?

But there are problems with offshoring. There are the time differences and cultural differences that may make it not go as smoothly as hoped. But I’m not one to think there’s any reason why software developed in another country should be any worse than software produced at home. I’ve dealt with many developers, at home and overseas and there are good and bad developers everywhere.

But now things have changed again. The UK government introduced a scheme, the intra company transfer visa, which is intended to bring in people to the UK to fill skills gaps that can’t be filled by the UK population. But big business have found some sweet loopholes in this scheme that means they can pay pretty much minimum wage to their developers whilst claiming back their expenses and not paying NI for them. I can understand why this is attractive to companies, it saves them money after all, and why should they care about the greater good? I doubt Henry Ford would survive very long in the modern world. But I can’t see it’s particularly good for the country as a whole, with lower tax revenue and higher unemployment being the obvious outcome. So what the hell was the government thinking of? I’m quite happy to compete with anybody on a level playing field, but when the playing field has been slanted like this, I’m pretty baffled about what’s going on.

Yesterday we had students smashing up the streets because they think it’s unfair that they are going to be in massive debt after they complete their degrees. In the past, graduates would be the people going into these relatively low paid jobs. How are they going to react when they get out of university to find there are no jobs available for them, due to this wonderful scheme?