IBM To Move Software Jobs To India, China

IBM documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal said about 4,700 programming jobs could be shifted overseas to save costs, a growing high-tech industry trend known as “offshoring.”

More than 900 people are already scheduled to be told of the move in the first half of 2004, while another 3,700 jobs have been identified as having the “potential to move offshore,” the Journal said. IBM already has hired 500 engineers in India to take on some of the work that will be moved, the Journal reported.

The division affected is IBM’s Application Management Services group, part of Big Blue’s huge technology services division. The IBM facilities where workers could be replaced include offices in Dallas, Southbury, Conn., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Raleigh, N.C., and Boulder, Colo.

IBM spokesman James Sciales said he would not comment on “internal presentations” but noted that most of IBM’s work force, which now totals 315,000, has been overseas for years. Sciales also released a statement saying IBM expects hiring in the United States next year will match or exceed 2003 levels.

While companies long ago began moving manufacturing jobs and other blue-collar work to Asia, big business is now increasingly shifting skilled work there as well. According to International Data Corp., foreign workers performed about 5 percent of information technology services for American companies this year, but by 2007, that share will grow to 23 percent.

Often, the American workers being replaced are called upon to train their overseas replacements. The same will be expected of IBM employees whose jobs are being transferred, according to the Journal.