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Fury and fear in Ohio as IT jobs go to India

Patrick Thibodeau | Nov. 10, 2015
IT workers are training their replacements.

It's not clear how many people Cognizant employs in the U.S., but in 2013, David Amsden, the form's vice president of human resources, put that number at 27,000. Overall, Cognizant employed more than 171,000 at that point. (Computerworld has asked Cognizant for an updated number.)

Cengage employees offered a job with Cognizant had little choice but to take it. If they rejected the offer, they would leave without severance, said IT workers. The severance offered is two weeks of pay per year of service.

The Web-based workers that the Cengage employees are training to take over their jobs are believed to be in India.

Cognizant applies for thousands of H-1B visas annually, and is one of the top three users of the visa, according to government data. Cengage employees reached for comment didn't know what visa, if any, the contract workers in their offices were using. But they said some of these workers spoke a foreign language in the office, along with English.

The idea that their work is being taken by foreign workers is very unsettling, according to the Cengage workers interviewed.

"The jobs are being replaced offshore, and I don't think people even understand what's happening here," said one IT worker, who pointed out that good opportunities were scarce. "The jobs out there are pathetic."

Said another worker about offshore outsourcing: "I think it's what's killing the American economy -- the middle class jobs are going away."

Cengage is based in Boston, but runs IT operations in Mason as well as in other states. The layoffs affected workers across IT, including networks, desktop support, database administration, developers, data warehouse and other systems.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the labor market grew by 271,000 jobs in October. But Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco, a consulting firm that studies the IT labor market, says IT hiring has been weakening compared to earlier this year.

There were about 10,200 IT jobs created in October, but the trend is slowing, said Janulaitis. In July, 17,000 IT jobs were added; in April and January, the number of jobs added was 16,000 in each of those months.

On Friday, Janco reduced its IT job growth estimate for 2015 from 160,000 to 145,000.

The number of jobs is still positive, but the situation varies regionally. Ohio has been hurt by a decline in manufacturing that has also reduced IT work.

Offshore outsourcing is having "a fairly strong impact" on IT employment, said Janulaitis. Students coming out of college are facing trouble starting a career "and a lot of that is driven by jobs that are taken by non-U.S. nationals in our economy, and a lot of that is H-1B [visa holders]," he said.

 

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