Hiring offshore workers good for US market, say tech executives

US IT companies need to hire foreign workers to stay competitive in the global market, according to a report released by the...

US IT companies need to hire foreign workers to stay competitive in the global market,  according to a report released by the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP).

The 20-page report, titled "Choose to compete", calls on US lawmakers to avoid "protectionism" through limits on international trade and collaboration and, instead, to form a partnership with US companies to improve how the nation competes globally.

"Because US companies are operating globally, they must hire qualified workers around the world to meet customer demands and expand their capabilities - a business model that makes sense, given that increasing corporate revenues come from abroad," said the CSPP, representing chief executive officers at eight IT companies.

"Much of the substantial revenue earned abroad cycles back to Americans in the form of jobs and wages for workers, investment in research and development, profits for shareholders and taxes for the US economy," said the report.

The report counters growing criticism from some worker organisations and politicians who have questioned why US companies hire foreign workers or move jobs overseas when the latest US unemployment rate stands at 5.9%.

"Thousands of white-collar jobs are going overseas, chasing the cheap dollar in India, China, Malaysia and the Philippines," said US senator Don Manzullo.

"That's the reason for this hearing, because of the incontrovertible evidence that the US is on the verge of adopting the economies of third-world nations."

But the CSPP's goal is not to be defensive about hiring foreign workers, said Bruce Mehlman, executive director of CSPP. Instead, the group wants to spark debate about how the US can stay competitive, with the chief executive officers'  "interested in protecting the national interest".

"There is a sense from these chief executive officers that their companies are competitive and will stay competitive," Mehlman added. "They want to make sure there are good, thoughtful debates happening in Washington."

The CSPP report argues that the US IT industry has raised worker productivity and helped raise the standard of living in the US.

CSPP members, including chief executives from Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, said they will counter arguments against offshore hiring with a package of legislative proposals outlined in the report.

The group of chief executive officers will present the proposals to Congress and members of the Bush administration during CSPP's annual meeting in February.

The report is available online at www.cspp.org/reports/ChooseToCompete.pdf

Grant Gross writes for IDG News Service

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