Tech Companies Focus on Asia to Expand Jobs
Fri Feb 27, 9:22 AM ET
By David Zielenziger
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Technology companies are seeing a rebound in business, but top executives this week
said any jobs added to meet growing demand will likely be in countries where labor is cheaper than the United
Executives speaking at the Reuters Technology, Media and Telecommunications Summit in New York said they
see increased hiring in countries like India and China, but few jobs will be added in the United States.
Michael Jordan, chief executive of technology services provider Electronic Data Systems Corp. (NYSE:EDS -
news) said EDS's number of employees in low-cost locations like India will rise to 20,000 from 9,000, by 2006.
Bruce Claflin, chief executive of network products maker 3Com Corp. (NasdaqNM:COMS - news) said the
company's joint-venture with Huawei Technologies of China will add 1,000 engineers, all supplied by Huawei.
In the future, customers "won't know where the technology comes from," Claflin said.
Anne Mulcahy, chief executive of Xerox Corp. (NYSE:XRX - news), which has about 40 percent of its 60,000
employees outside the U.S., expects little hiring. "I don't really think we'll be adding people the way we used to,"
she said. Xerox has already handed over manufacturing of most printers to Flextronics International Ltd.
(NasdaqNM:FLEX - news) of Singapore.
Only a few companies, such as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM - news), the world's No. 1
technology company, have announced plans to add jobs this year. But even IBM, which derives most of its sales
abroad, plans to shift jobs to remain competitive.
U.S. technology employment fell 4 percent last year to just below 6 million, the American Electronics Association
estimates, the lowest level since 1999. The unemployment rate for electrical and electronics engineers rose to a
record 6.2 percent, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers said.
Ron Hira, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology who analyzes manpower for the IEEE, said a recent
decrease in the U.S. government's outlook for employment growth reflects the move to send U.S. technology jobs
Non-U.S. technology companies had a banner year in 2003. Jim Thomas, U.S. marketing vice president for Tata
Consultancy Services of India, said Tata had double-digit growth in the United States, estimating overall U.S.
business reached almost $1 billion from $880 million in fiscal 2002.
Tata, India's largest technology services company, saw "across the board" gains in many U.S. sectors, Thomas
Tata, which is privately held, as well as the publicly traded Indian service companies like the Wipro Technologies
unit of Wipro Ltd. (WIPR.BO) and Infosys Technologies (INFY.BO) have ramped up U.S. sales.
In response, more than a dozen states are considering legislation to ban hiring non-U.S. workers to handle
government contracts but none has passed yet. Indiana's Senate this month passed such a law but its House hasn't
acted yet, said Sen. Jeff Drozda, its Republican sponsor.
In New Jersey, Sen. Shirley Turner, sponsor of a similar bill, said, "We are shooting ourselves in the head if we
don't adopt protective laws."
But EDS's Jordan said such moves are ill-advised, preferring federal programs that could invoke existing
"There are lots of ways to skin the productivity cat," Jordan said. "India's only one of them."
Michael Turner, president of the Information Technology Institute, an industry study group, said European
countries that have laws prohibiting the transfer of personal data abroad may be better protected against offshoring.
Some institutional shareholders also plan to take a stand. Dan Steininger, chief executive of Catholic Knights, a
Milwaukee-based mutual funds group with assets around $1 billion, said he plans to introduce resolutions to deal
with offshoring this year.
"CEOs never think of reducing their own pay," Steininger said. "Why do they always think the pain must start out
at the bottom?"