Monday, May 23, 2005

Neo, It's Outsourcing

United States business entities continue to outsource. Automobiles to Mexico, textiles to China and Malayasia, computer programming and help desks to India. Where will it stop? And does it need to stop?

Now comes this, from the Times of India:

NEW DELHI: After high-tech industry, outsourcing of educational services is now a growing business with Indian teachers tutoring American school children at a far less cost than their US counterparts.

A large number of Indian math and engineering graduates has made the country an attractive resource for some US tutoring firms.

If this becomes a trend (outsourcing tutoring), the reasoning will be simple economics.

One big reason for the outsourcing is, of course, cost. Growing Stars, a Bay Area-based small company, with a center with 20 tutors in Kochi, is able to offer one-on-one services for 20 an hour, significantly less than the USD 45 to USD 80 an hour charged by US tutoring companies like Sylvan and Kaplan.

That makes sense, on the surface. However, the article goes on to say:

The Indian tutoring companies say they are simply filling a market void by providing after-hour services.

"My teachers are all highly educated, come from math and science backgrounds, and have prior teaching experience. American teachers of comparable quality would be doubly expensive," the head of one such Indian company says.

Is this a fact? To my knowledge, high schools in my immediate area offer after hours tutoring programs and telephone hotlines for assistance. Colleges offer tutoring free of charge to those willing to partake of the programs. I know this for a fact, because my daughter made most of her income by tutoring math while working on her undergraduate degree in Physics/Math. My son, currently enrolled in a post-graduate program, makes approximately half of his income from tutoring math. These programs are paid for with State funds through the colleges.

Yes, it would make financial sense to spend $20 an hour instead of $45 to $80. Except why not spend that $20 here, instead of overseas?

Update: In the past few days there have been reports that something new is in the mix:

Stroke a chicken over the internet

Scientists have developed a system which enables people to stroke a chicken over the internet.

It's seen as the first step to virtual physical interaction, reports Wired News.

The Touchy Internet system was created by researchers at the National University of Singapore.

Users touch a chicken-shaped doll which duplicates the actions of a real chicken through a webcam link.

Touch sensors on the doll send 'tactile information' over the internet to a second computer near the chicken.

Extrapolating this trend to it's logical conclusion, one day the United States will be nothing more than an idyllic paradise, with all functions outsourced, including walking of the dog, complete with ear scratching and games of 'fetch'. Sex and childbirth? No problem. Sewage treatment? At one time laundry was shipped from San Francisco to Hawaii, so why not sewage?

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