How Cheaply Could Your Job Be Offshored?

IT pros aren’t immune from the near-universal human worry of wondering if they’re being paid enough for their skills. But rather than stressing about how much you should be earning, it might pay to reflect on how cheaply you could be replace offshore.

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I started musing on this issue after reading a recent article in the AFR about plans at big four bank ANZ to offshore almost 600 call centre jobs to the Philippines or India. The motivation for that switch? Simple money saving.

A full-time call centre worker in those countries costs around $22,000, according to the AFR report — and that’s the total cost including equipment and office space, not just the salary. An equivalent Australian worker would cost at least 40 per cent more — and that’s not accounting for the high turnover in the call centre sector.

I haven’t seen directly equivalent figures for IT pro roles. Two obvious complicating factors: many offshore IT roles are set up as fixed-length contracts rather than permanent positions, and there’s a much broader range of skills involved. However, the same trend is evident in IT as in call centres (or manufacturing, or anywhere else). If your employer can find a massively cheaper way of getting the same work done by someone offshore, there’s a fair chance they’ll take that opportunity, and you’ll find yourself out of work.

How can you protect yourself against that outcome? The answers are likely to sound familiar:

  • Keep your training and certifications up to date so that you’re competitive in the marketplace;
  • Build your understanding of how technology works with and helps your employer, not just how to implement it. That kind of knowledge is more difficult to replicate offshore.

In higher-level positions, offshoring is a more remote possibility. However, if you’re working in a more basic position, build a plan to ascend that ladder as quickly as feasible.

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