ity, lack of loyalty, cultural differences, IP theft, lack of a big-picture mindset. In India, it was communication skills, lack of industry knowledge, proximity/visa, poor project management, high turnover, and cultural differences.
I thought turnover would be at the top of the list for India, but it was mentioned somewhere in the middle of the survey. This was a big surprise because many articles are about massive turnover. Executives in India said turnover is a big issue, but in our survey it was just a passing point. Turnover didn’t seem to faze these companies.
We asked companies about the relative advantages of engineers from each country. For the United States, advantages were communication skills, understanding of industry, superior business acumen, better education/training, a sense of creativity, desire to challenge the status quo. For China, advantages were cost followed by work ethics and willingness to work long hours. For India they were cost, technical knowledge, knowledge of English, education, ability to learn quickly, and work ethics.
Cost was cited as the most important reason most companies go overseas. When we asked companies what lies ahead, most said they expected the offshoring trend to continue and to expand. Only 5 percent said it would diminish over time.
To draw some general conclusions, I will put my tech CEO hat back on. When I was a tech executive, I learned that you must always fear your competition. You have to be alert and awake. You have to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. And you have to be ruthless in crushing the enemy. That’s the way to compete. You learn to take advantage of your strengths, the things that make you what you are. You have to do those things better than the competition, and you have to battle the competition on your turf.
In this debate, we have been focusing on the strengths of our competition and competing on their turf. India and China will always have an advantage in numbers, and there is no way we will ever catch up. They graduate more engineers, more dentists, and more shopkeepers. Who cares?
We should focus on what makes us what we are. American workers are creative, hardworking, innovative, and can think outside the box, and American universities excel in basic and applied research. The quality of education in America is not just a little better than in the rest of the world; it is miles ahead. I acknowledge that K–12 education can be improved and that we should teach our kids more math and science. But we must start by focusing on our key strengths and doing what we do better.