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IBM is planning to move up to 4,730 programmer jobs offshore, the Wall Street Journal reports today.

The plans are still under debate, according to the newspaper, which cites internal documents, but involve Application Management Services group, part of IBM's Global Services operation.

As is the modern fashion, a final humiliation will be expected of the doomed US workers: they'll be expected to train their offshore replacements.

While the trend to move backoffice functions such as administration, accounting and call center support to cheaper locations such as India and China has been evident for some time, only this year have CEOs targeted trained IT professionals. Estimates suggest that one in ten white collar jobs Stateside will be sent offshore by the end of 2004.

But is this the whole picture?

The CEO of a privately held software company told us recently that in contrast to IT jobs which demand 'real' engineering skills, such as the C++ programming language, 'dot.com' jobs involving web design or database work were overpaid. He told us he could save money and employ more US citizens: resulting in a net gain for the economy. However, publically quoted companies such as IBM are under pressure simply to return higher profits to their shareholders, and can't afford to be so altruistic. ®

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