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Qwest still hiring India staff
Even as layoffs keep mounting at U.S. locations
By Kimberly S. Johnson, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Tuesday, March 5, 2007

Qwest Communications is expanding and hiring employees in the high-tech hub of India, as its U.S. workforce declines.

Bangalore, India-based Qwest Software Services has been operational since 2003 and currently has 570 workers, or 1.5 percent of Qwest's workforce, focused on internal technology projects.

Last month, Qwest laid off 10 percent of its information technology workforce, including 100 in Denver.  During 2006, Qwest shed a total of 1,300 jobs.

According to the Qwest Software Services website, the company is looking to fill openings in eight types of positions, such as technical architect and application engineer.

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs said the Bangalore workforce allows the company to complete IT projects faster, by having computer developers working around the clock.

"We have a 24-hour development cycle," he said.  "It's a crazy, competitive environment.  One area where it makes sense to leverage our workforce is here and in India."

The company also has offices in England and Hong Kong, although its largest overseas office is in Bangalore, Toevs said.

"What is happening is inevitable," said Purnima Voria, founder and chief executive of the National U.S. India Chamber of Commerce, based in Denver.  "Here we pay $38 an hour to software engineers and in India we pay $17 an hour.  That's not a bad thing.  People in India are spending the money on U.S. products."

Toevs declined to offer salary information regarding workers at Qwest Software Services but said that there are some cost savings for Qwest.

"The core of our IT operation will always be here (in the U.S.)," Toevs said.  "If we can complement and leverage that, we will."

Qwest is not alone.  Most major technology companies have locations in India.  Denver-based Quark Inc. set up software operation in Chandigarh, India, in 1998, for instance.  In 2005, more than 100 Colorado companies were contracting software programmers from India.

"Many companies are investigating the opportunity to do this sort of thing," said Douglas Allen, associate professor at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Management.  "We have to keep up with these issues and remain competitive."

Adding workers abroad "tends to hit a little closer to home when it involves highly educated jobs," such as software engineering, Allen said.

While there are cost savings associated with moving business functions overseas, Allen said companies are motivated to hire abroad for additional reasons, such as to improve product quality and to accelerate business processes.

"That's not a trivial issue," he said.  "You have doctors dictating notes and sending them off to Bangalore, and they have them back transcribed the next day."

Voria said exports to India from Colorado have increased 11 percent in the past year.

"I think companies are looking for business there every day," she said.  "Where people see fear, I see more opportunity for us in the U.S."

Staff writer Kimberly S. Johnson can be reached at 303-954-1088 or kjohnson@denverpost.com.

1,300 -  Employees laid off by Qwest Communications in 2006

10%   -  Qwest's information technology workforce laid off in February

570    -  Employees of India-based Qwest Software Services, which is hiring

$17    -  Hourly wage paid to software engineers in India, versus $38 in the U.S.

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5363020