US offshoring: the backlash continues

Readers will be aware that incumbent US president Donald Trump is not the biggest fan of offshoring in the world – quite the reverse, in fact, he hates it.

So it’s surprising that articles like this one on MSN suggest he’s actually doing more to reward it than stop it, although as his own companies offshore an awful lot of work perhaps the real surprise was in the initial promise.

So here’s our view: it’s complicated.

First there’s the idea that offshoring is bad as such. The jury is out on this. By all means the domestic jobs available immediately will shrink when the offshoring starts, but if it’s done to keep a company competitive it may be the only way to save the rest of the jobs in the longer term (of course, the markets may not be behaving in as extreme a manner as this).

Then there’s the study we quote from time to time from Loughborough University which points out, quite ably, that the total amount of jobs in a company is likely to increase if it outsources some of its tasks. So, does offshoring equal more domestic jobs?

The jury’s out on that one, too – there are certainly examples in which this has been the case. Then, however, you have to take account of the fact that the people losing jobs initially won’t be the people to fill the posts created later unless they are prepared (and able) to retrain. So ‘more jobs’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘same people’s livelihoods recovered’.

So, complicated. But please, if we had one item on our wish list, then ‘could we all stop pretending this is straightforward’ would probably be it.

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