Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Outsourcing in India to be study's focus

Source: Journalnow.com

Appalachian State given $169,000 grant by U.S. Education Department for project

Appalachian State University has started a two-year project that puts the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and production to India under a business and educational microscope.

The university has received a $169,000 grant from the U.S. Education Department to study global outsourcing, with a focus on promoting student and faculty exchanges with peer institutions in India. ASU is the only university in North Carolina to get a grant dedicated to outsourcing during the current cycle.

The university has had a similar exchange arrangement with Fudan University in Shanghai, China, for 11 years.

There’s no denying that outsourcing, in particular to India, is a hot-button issue, said Al Harris, a professor in ASU’s Department of Computer Information Systems. The university’s willingness to wrestle with the issue is a major reason it was given the grant, according to Harris and officials with the education department.

Several major area employers are pursuing cost savings through outsourcing IT services, with software companies based in India increasingly preferred as the vendor.

A short list includes Aon Corp., BB&T Corp., Dell Inc., GMAC Insurance, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Wachovia Corp. Employment officials said that thousands of jobs could be at stake, either locally or within companies’ domestic operations.

Part of the project’s purpose is to “learn more about the factors that have attracted North Carolina companies to outsource their business processes offshore,” said Jesse Lutabingwa, an associate vice chancellor for international education and development at ASU.

According to a Princeton University study released in March, IT jobs are among the top occupations most vulnerable to outsourcing, with computer programmers ranked first and computer-systems analysts ranked third.

“Some of the students that graduate from Appalachian will, in one way or the other, be affected by outsourcing,” Lutabingwa said. “Either as managers/company leaders who must make decisions about outsourcing some of their business processes, or as potential employees, where the jobs they might take could be outsourced.”

The project will also include developing new coursework on outsourcing and entrepreneurship in India, and creating student internships in India.