Is Too Much Outsourcing Economic Overkill?

With everyone worried about the economy, and unemployment still near record highs, there has been a lot of concern over the amount of outsourcing practiced by domestic companies. Executive search firms are used in order to outsource some work as a means to keep operating budgets down. Yet, is all this outsourcing cutting costs where they hurt us the most — in lost American jobs? Is the amount of outsourcing, practiced by American corporations, one of the contributing factors in our struggling economy?

Outsourcing Education

The New York Times recently reported that several prominent colleges and universities use outsourcing for the evaluation of student assignments. The company used is actually located in Virginia, although the bulk of its employees are overseas in Singapore, Malaysia and India. The evaluation program itself is digital, with all assignments outsourced across the ocean.

The real crux of this process isn’t even the outsourcing itself. It’s the fact that these assignments are for English composition classes, yet they’re being evaluated by workers who do not speak English as their first language. Keep in mind, this company is being utilized by some very high-profile, private educational institutions where students attend in order to receive an above-par education. Is outsourcing homework evaluation really in line with that goal and most importantly, what’s best for our economy?

Program Popularity

There are two reasons that have helped this type of outsourcing gain so much popularity. First, allowing workers overseas to conduct evaluations frees up professors from those routine duties and allows them to concentrate on core aspects of teaching, such as lesson planning. And secondly, it’s an unfortunate fact that many teaching assistants (who would normally perform such duties) and even some professors aren’t actually well-versed enough in basic grammar to properly conduct the evaluations themselves.

Institutions that use the program rate it very highly. They defend their outsourcing choice by explaining that the overseas evaluators are not responsible for the grades themselves; that is left up to the professor. They’re well-trained in English grammar and are considered professionals in the field.

A Vicious Circle

Is it possible that we’ve created our own vicious circle here? Are students learning incorrect grammar because their evaluations are conducted by non-native English speakers overseas? Are these same students continuing on to graduate schools and becoming teachers themselves, all the while having never achieved a basic grasp on English grammar… simply because their papers were evaluated incorrectly? And frankly, shouldn’t we expect our prestigious universities to offer access to the greatest teaching minds available within our own country, instead of outsourcing their fundamental teaching work elsewhere?

Outsourcing in the education field may be new, but outsourcing itself has been around for quite a while. The problem lies not within the outsourcing itself, but in the rapid up scaling that has taken place. At first, simple jobs were sent overseas, that didn’t directly affect the jobs of Americans. However, these days even major operations and key financials are being outsourced. Despite it all, there are other stable resources that can be used like contracting an executive search firm to locate skilled professionals which would actually make, not take, our precious jobs. While outsourcing may have gotten many businesses up on their feet, it is important to prevent it from bringing the American economy to its knees.

Citations:

Mercedes Potter is a writer who analyzes and discusses potential threats in America. In this post she focuses on education and jobs and how the outsourcing of both, may be the death of our economy. Follow her @CedesPotter to read other discussion topics.

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