They’re Cheap

26 07 2012


I, Cringely:

Are Indian high schoolers manning your IBM help desk?


I already wrote a column about the experience of former IBM customers Hilton Hotels and ServiceMaster having no trouble finding plenty of IT talent living in the tech hotbed that is Memphis, TN, thus dispelling the domestic IT labor shortage theory.

This column is about the supposed advantages of technical talent from India.

There can be some structural advantages to using Indian labor. By being 12 hours out-of-sync, Indian techies can supposedly fix bugs while their U.S. customers sleep. But this advantage relies on Indian labor moving quickly, which it often does not given the language and cultural issues as well as added layers of management.

India, simply by being such a populous country and having so many technical graduates, does indeed have a wealth of technical talent. What’s not clear, though, is whether this talent is being applied to serve the IT needs of U.S. customers. My belief is that Indian talent is not being used to good effect, at least not at IBM.

I suspect IBM’s customers are being deceived or at least kept in the dark.

Here is my proof: right now IBM is preparing to launch an internal program with the goal of increasing in 2013 the percentage of university graduates working at its Indian Global Delivery Centers (GDCs) to 50 percent. This means that right now most of IBM’s Indian staffers are not college graduates.

Did you know that?  I didn’t. I would be very surprised if IBM customers knew they were being supported mainly by graduates of Indian high schools.

To be fair, I did a search and determined that there actually are a few U.S. job openings at IBM that require only a high school diploma. These include IBM GBS Public Sector Consultant 2012 (Entry-Level), Technical Support Professional (Entry Level), and Software Performance Analyst (Entry Level). But I have yet to meet or even hear of a high school graduate working in one of these positions in the USA.

It’s ironic that in the USA, with its supposed IT labor shortage, we can hire college graduates for jobs that in India are filled by high schoolers.

Yet in India IBM admits that the majority of its GDC workers lack university degrees. They certainly don’t advertise this fact to customers, nor do they hide it I suppose because they don’t have to.

What customer is going to think to ask for Indian resumes? After all this is IBM, right?

Yeah, right.

The most astounding part of this story to me is that one of the challenges IBM says it is facing in this project is to “establish a cultural change program to drive increased acceptance of staffing with graduates.”

So IBM’s Indian Global Delivery Centers are anti-education?

No, they’re pro-profits.



One response

27 07 2012

This is basically my complaint about HB-1’s.

You don’t know if they are really telling the truth in a lot of cases. “I am a doctor, engineer, etc.” The “med school” they attended may just be a family POBox in Croatia, Nepal, North Korea, or Zimbabwe.

It's your dime, spill it. And also...NO TROLLS ALLOWED~!

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