Friday, May 18, 2007

Changing Faces

In New Zealand, there’s some thought that over the next thirty years we may mostly be a Maori nation. I beg to differ: I think we will mostly be an Asian nation, with European and Maori minorities. Already there are far more Asians living and working in New Zealand than there have ever been in the past, and they’re wealthy and intelligent people, who bring an enormous heritage with them. Yes, many fish and chip and takeaways are still run by Asians, and many restaurants, but that doesn’t seem to stop them filling up professional jobs as well. The last two mayors in our city of Dunedin have been Asian, one Indian and now a Chinese (though I think he was NZ born). The times have changed enormously from my childhood, when the only Chinese you ever saw ran fish and chip shops, or were fruiterers. Now half the doctors and dentists are Asian, and intend to stay in the country.
I haven’t noticed such a large influx of Asians into the IT market here, as yet, but apparently in China there are some 2 million IT professionals in the workforce, and over a 100,000 more of them graduate from universities every year. Not only this, most of them are English-proficient, since this is now a requirement for anyone in top professions. I suspect that that may mean proficient at English but not necessarily proficient in the subtleties of the language. Still, it’s a start.
And now the trends of the last few decades are reversing further. I’ve just read of a top Chinese IT company called Hundsun Electronics Co. that has a subsidiary in the States called Hundsun Global Services, Inc. What a turnaround! This means that they can offer software outsourcing in China, and of course the price is considerably lower than what it would be for the same job in the US. Apropos of this, it’s not long since I was told by the owner of a chain of shops here in NZ that they could have a shop outfitted now for a fraction of the price by giving all the details to a company in China and having the whole thing shipped to NZ ready to go.
I think those of us who live through the next thirty years will be astonished by the changes in the world focus. And the interesting thing is that English may still survive as a major language!
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