THE BLOG

A Jobs Program Global Outsourcers Can Believe In: USAID Trains Sri Lankans and Armenians to Displace Americans

Aug 11, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

There's no delicate way to put this. To be successful, these two new USAID programs require the firing of American workers. And many of these hard-working Americans will be forced to train their Armenian and Sri Lankan replacements before losing their jobs.

Using $10 million in taxpayer dollars, USAID is training 3,000 under-employed and unemployed Sri Lankans students who will then be hired by outsourcing companies in Sri Lanka.

"Under director Rajiv Shah, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will partner with private outsourcers in Sri Lanka to teach workers advanced IT skills like Java programming as well as skills in business process, outsourcing, and call center support. USAID will also help the trainees brush up on their English language proficiency," according to Informationweek.

In a follow-up article, Informationweek revealed that

"USAID has announced a program under which it will partner with the government of Armenia--a nation anxious to lure computer work from American shores--to promote the development of the country's information technology industry."

USAID hasn't disclosed the amount US taxpayers must pony up to develop Armenian companies who's business objective is to outsource top dollar, white-collar American jobs.

But the story only gets worse. Both programs will also rely on corporate visa programs like H1-b and L-1 to ensure these foreign workers can be temporarily stationed in US jobs in order to be trained by "dead-men walking" American workers.

You see, outsourcing companies must first ship foreign citizens into and out of the US before they ship the job overseas.

Here's how it works. A management team at an American company acts as an internal "chop shop," dissecting recruiting, payroll, accounting, and tech support from their core business. Then they rely upon the outsourcing company, say in Armenia or Sri Lanka, to ship their visa workers into these dissected departments so Americans currently doing this work can train them. After the Americans are fired, the Armenians or Sri Lankans would then be shipped home--with U.S. jobs in hand.

Finally, the American company relies upon the outsourcing company to ship other visa workers to the U.S. and station them for years on-site, acting as a middleman between the American workers left behind and the Armenian or Sri Lankans working remotely.

Got it? So it's ship, then train, then ship back. And ship, then train, then station. That's the Outsourcing Shuffle.


Corporate visa programs, mis-characterized by the press as "guest worker programs", drive the rotation of foreign workers in--and jobs out--from U.S. shores. That's why the India's Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, called the H1-b visa "the outsourcing visa."

Surely President Obama and Mr. Shah, a former executive at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, understand the USAID-supported outsourcing plans will collapse if these new companies don't have easy access to current visa programs which legally bypass and displace US talent.

But few others in Washington understand this.

Technology CEOs, aware that legislators are ignorant of the visa-outsourcing connection, arrogantly intimidate Senators and Congressmen with threats they can't possibly deliver, such as, if legislators don't expand visa programs-- we'll just offshore more jobs!

However, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY) is keenly aware that America's goodwill is being betrayed by USAID's new plans.

He joined communications workers who lost their jobs in the recession to protest USAID's proposed pilot program that would help train Sri Lankans in information technology, business process outsourcing, and call center support.

"This is simply outrageous; this is perhaps the dumbest and most counter-productive use of taxpayer money that I have encountered in the eight years I have been in office," Bishop said, flanked by laid off members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1108. "Whether its $10 million or one nickel, I will fight against any taxpayer funds being used to subsidize outsourcing."

Bishop wrote a letter to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah urging him to suspend this program and any other programs that use American taxpayer funds to train foreign citizens on how to better take American jobs.

If necessary, Bishop is preparing to introduce bipartisan legislation with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) that would amend the Fiscal Year 2011 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to prohibit USAID from funding the program.

There's three things you can do to stop this betrayal of our goodwill:

  1. Call USAID at 202-712-1023 to demand they suspend all programs that teach foreign citizens how to better take jobs from American workers.
  2. Call your representative to demand that he or she join Congressman Bishop in suspending funding for these destructive programs.
  3. Bust the inevitability myth that there's nothing we can do to stop offshoring jobs.

When technology CEOs threaten that they'll just offshore more jobs if corporate visa programs are fixed - they've set their own trap. Just spring the trap by calling the H1-b what it is--the outsourcing visa.