Fortune 500 companies send jobs overseas, yet opportunity still knocks at home

While market research companies such as Forrester Research claim 3.3 million jobs will move offshore to countries like China and India by 2015, outsourcing is still not considered a threat to the United States, said the panel members of the Global Outsourcing Forum.

Model United Nations and the Council of International Students and Organizations presented the forum Tuesday evening in order to educate students about the global impact of outsourcing.

Panel members included Edward Erwin, a professor of philosophy; William Werther, professor of management; and Mazen Labban, an assistant professor of geography and regional studies.

Werther suggested that the disappearance of the 74 million baby-boomers from the job market would create enough opportunities to combat company-movement overseas. He also said that college graduates will be entering a “golden age” in the workforce as they replace their parents’ generation.

Although more than half of the Fortune 500 companies, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, American Express and Delta Air Lines have moved offshore, the panel members pointed out that the U.S. jobs have always lost out due to economic and social changes.

Erwin emphasized the impact of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, when 90 percent of Americans made a living from agriculture. Farmers were forced to move to urban areas like Chicago to find jobs.

Labban noted that outsourcing is not something that just happens in India, Mexico, Indonesia or Jordan, but also occurs on American soil in a different way via sweatshops and prison labor.

“Prisoners have been stitching jeans and T-shirts, making reservations for TWA and marketing and packaging products for Microsoft since the 1980s,” Labban said.

Students who attended the lecture feel that outsourcing creates a gap between the rich and poor.

Adam Greenberg, a senior, said he became deeply aware of social disparity during his heavy involvement with the UNICCO strike last year.

“I think outsourcing definitely has an economic benefit for certain people,” Greenberg said. “Still, we are not acknowledging the human rights aspect, which seems to be overshadowed by the economic impact.”

Werther told The Miami Hurricane after the forum ended that much of the worry over outsourcing is routed in misconceptions construed by the American public. To obtain accurate information about topics like outsourcing, he stressed the importance of alternative view points.

“I was very surprised when I first went to Chile to find out how many of the educated people believed Pinochet was a hero who saved the country,” he said. “It dumbfounded me because I thought he was worst than dirt. I realized I was reading Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and The Miami Herald, and they all had the same point of view. So the first thing I did when I came back from Chile was get a subscription to The Economist.”

By the end of the forum, the panel members left the audience contemplating the moral aspect of global outsourcing.

“With outsourcing, we’re better off economically and the rest of the world is better off,” Werther said. “The only people that are hurt are the individuals who lose their jobs, but we continue outsourcing for the national good.”

Karyn Meshbane may be contacted at