April 17, 2008

This is worth checking out, if only to understand his conclusion:

"Using detailed information on the nature of work done in over 800 BLS occupational
codes, this paper ranks those occupations according to how easy/hard it is to offshore the work—
either physically or electronically. Using that ranking, I estimate that somewhere between 22%
and 29% of all U.S. jobs are or will be potentially offshorable within a decade or two

How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable? by Alan S. Blinder

I have long marveled at self-satisfied free traders among the "knowledge worker" set I know who think their work (as opposed to that of the suckers in disappearing manufacturing jobs) will never be off shored to Asia. But if you can do it, so can they. Unless "it" is wiping someone's ass in child care or medical care, or being a lawyer...

"In thinking about the potential for offshoring, I argued, it is critical to distinguish
between two very different sorts of services, which I labeled personally-delivered (or just
“personal”) and impersonally delivered (or just “impersonal”). The first category
encompasses a bewildering variety of jobs, ranging from janitors and child care workers
on the low-wage end to surgeons and CEOs on the high-wage end. Similarly, the second
category includes both low-end jobs like call center operators and high-end jobs like
scientists. The key attribute on which to focus, I argued, is not the job’s skill or its
educational requirements, but rather whether the service “can be delivered [to its end
user] electronically over long distances with little or no degradation in quality” (2006), p. 114). Impersonal services like data entry and writing computer code can be so
delivered--with ease. Personal services like driving a taxi or arguing a case in court
cannot. Thus, in large measure, only impersonal services are tradable—and thus
potentially vulnerable to offshoring. Personal services, which require physical presence
and/or face-to-face contact with end users, are not"

I might be safe

"...Of course, the distinction between personal and impersonal services is really a
continuum, not a sharp dichotomy. Data entry may fall at one extreme (completely
impersonal) while child care falls at the other (completely personal), but in between lies a
long list of occupations that fall at neither pole. For example, the services of an architect
or a college professor probably can be delivered electronically over long distances; but
we believe that the quality of those services is degraded notably when that happens."

Actually, there is a big push for "distance learning." One filmed lecture, people watch it on the interschnitzel on youtube at their leisure, I can grade papers from a beach somewhere. Get me some of this offshoring stuff. Ezcept the danger is it only takes one talking head to make the video, and an army of peons in Asia to grade the exams (or better yet, a computer). I will be left on the beach arranging umbrellas and taking drinks to visiting Asian tourists.

The key is the question it "the job required workers to be physically present" To simply--if yes, then the job is non-offshorable. If no, then it is is offshorable. The latter ranking has variable weight given to it.

But if what you do can be done from offsite, like you do it now, --adios!

No comments: