If you’ve wondered whether India and its expanding network of 5,000 English-speaking tech writers will play a role in the globalization of technical communication, look no further. In Tech Writing: The New Black Gold Of India (The Economic Times), Rahul Prabhakar, 27, who runs a network called the Technical Writers of India says: “With many software development jobs moving to India, support functions like writing are moving base too.” According to him, this is due to two factors – more competitive costs, and quality “which is improving”. Higher paying tech writing jobs are helping to move the Indian economy forward and making it possible for some younger Indians with strong English language skills to increase their earning potential and improve their overall quality of life.

But getting the proper training is difficult for Indian tech writers. “With no university courses, technical writers in India are left to the wolves. They are made to learn the ropes on their own,” laments Prabhakar.

The subject of outsourcing of technical communication jobs was the subject of a panel discussion at the November 21, 2006 joint meeting of the Indiana chapters of the Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association. It was clear from the audience response to the panel that there is still much uncertainty surrounding the role overseas outsourcing will play in the future. Those in attendance discussed the types of outsourcing their firms are already engaged in, the pros and cons of working with outsourced labor, and the potential impact of increased reliance on less expensive overseas labor. It’s still not clear how outsourcing of technical communication jobs will impact the salaries of typical tech writers in North America and Europe, many of whom lack sufficient skills to help them grow their career in new directions or avoid being replaced by cheaper overseas commodity labor.

The impact of globalization is an important issue for technical communication professionals in Western nations to consider as they make plans for growing their own careers. To better understand the big picture and where you fit in this fast-changing global marketplace, read The World is Flat by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. It’s a reality check and will help you see the world without Robohelp-colored glasses.