Arguments against the use of VAs from countries like the Philippines don’t seem to be impacting growth in the practice, but do they have any credence?
Offshoring opponents typically take one of two key stances in decrying the use of overseas service providers:
1. Hiring offshore virtual assistants takes jobs away from people at home.
2. Hiring offshore virtual assistants is an exploitative practice.
Perhaps these arguments have you wondering whether hiring a virtual assistant is the right thing to do.
If so, we’d like to share our response to the first of the two arguments, and explain why the use of offshore VAs does not rob jobs from clients’ home countries—and why perhaps it can even improve prospects in your domestic labour market.
Moving Towards a Global Society
Strangely enough in an age when international boundaries are coming to mean less and less, the Australian, American, English, or [insert first-world nationality] citizen who works for a company in the developing world does not seem to stir emotions half so much as a business at home hiring a contractor or employee based overseas—yet there is little difference between the two scenarios, as we’ll now try to illustrate.
Scenario #1: For example, if an Australian man without employment is offered a job with say, a large Filipino company, subject to terms and conditions that suit him and he accepts, he now has a job.
The Australian man is no longer a member of the Australian population of unemployed men. He has also stolen nobody’s job in Australia.
It could of course be said that the Australian man has stolen a job that a Filipino might have had instead, but few Australians are likely to have much of a problem with that.
Scenario #2: If an Australian business-owner outsources some administration work to a virtual assistant in the Philippines, he is not creating the equivalent of a job for a full-time Australian worker. He is simply paying somebody else to do work that he would otherwise do personally. If the business-owner did not off-shore the work, there would still be no job for an Australian resident, so no job is being taken away by hiring an offshore VA.
Offshore Assistance to Create Better Jobs at Home
Even if you look at the issue from an aggregate, rather than “job for job” perspective, claims that VA-offshoring takes domestic jobs away just don’t stack up.
For example, let’s consider whether ten virtual assistants in the Philippines would take away a single job from Australia.
Given that each of ten VAs will probably take work on for entrepreneurs and small businesses, they will still only be doing work that would otherwise be performed by the business owner or perhaps as secondary tasks for members of a small domestic workforce.
If all that work was suddenly to be returned to Australia, would that create one single job in the local employment market?… Highly unlikely, we’d suggest.
Now here’s why outsourcing business tasks to off-shore virtual assistants can actually improve the domestic labour market…
By using low-cost resources, entrepreneurs and smaller enterprises can better manage their businesses as they grow. Business-growth generates the need for more technical and professional positions, which increases both the quantity and quality of jobs available in the domestic market.
Don’t Be Swayed by the “Anti” Brigade
If you’ve been thinking about hiring a virtual assistant based overseas, but are worried about it being somehow unpatriotic, don’t let the anti-offshoring argument get you rattled.
Instead, take advantage of the availability of remote contractors to get a leg-up, and shed some of those tasks that distract you from business development.
Channel the time and effort saved into growing your business, and before long, you’ll be creating technical and professional jobs that you’d be happy to fill from your local employment market—and which by then will be within the financial capabilities of your enterprise.