Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Goodbye Call Centres II

George Monbiot catches on.

"The impact on British workers will be devastating. Service jobs of the kind now being exported were supposed to make up for the loss of employment in the manufacturing industries which disappeared overseas in the 1980s and 1990s. "

Funny, wasn't Randeep Ranesh arguing in the Guardian that we'd just move up a technical gear ?

For once George is right.

IT jobs will continue to go to India because

a) there are some clever people out there
b) there are rather a lot of them
c) they are rather better educated

And a large proportion of their schools do all teaching in English, the language of IT and of world business.

Schools in India would be thought of as highly old fashioned over here.

There are still right and wrong answers.
Kids stand up when teacher walks in. Most time is spent teaching rather than maintaining order.
Pupils' self-esteem isn't a big issue for staff.
Self-expression is not the be-all and end-all.
Weird arts, long vanished in the British State system, like essays, comprehension, grammar, precis, spelling and public speaking are practised.

But they're not code gods. I worked alongside 50-odd Indian contractors a year or so ago. Good, but not superhuman. Though their work ethic is something else. 3 hours on the train to work, 9 hour day then 3 back ? That's in India of course. But on the 10K that paid he could afford servants to cook and clean, so he never had to tidy the flat, wash clothes or get his own food.

What's interesting is that the vanishing jobs are at a higher and higher level. Fund managers and stockbrokers are starting to contract out their research there.

And at the bottom end, UK call centres are doomed. In the Indian call centre my current employer operates, all the staff are graduates. Real degrees, too, not Diana Studies at University College North London (formerly Neasden Institute).