When I was in my second year of university in the winter of 2016, I took a coding course. Many of my classmates felt that the class was too focused on theories about coding and the Internet and not on the technical aspects of coding. I guess that’s up for debate, but there was one lesson from the class that still sticks with me:
The professor gave a lecture on outsourcing. That’s when a company hires employees based in a different country, usually because labour is cheaper in that country. Outsourcing makes products and services cheaper. When done right, it can also bring diverse perspectives to a business.
However, many North Americans think that outsourcing kills jobs in North America, particularly low skilled labour and entry-level jobs. This is not entirely incorrect. You don’t have to look too far to find examples of factories shutting down because the company chose to open a factory in China or Mexico where labour is cheaper. The same goes with call centres, animation studios, and computer programming departments. But some people have a misguided and racist view that outsourcing- along with immigration and globalization- is a threat to North American prosperity.
You may have seen some unsettling Fox news clips of Donald Drumpf-er-Trump speaking at his rallies, blaming immigrants from Mexico for the unemployment rate among the white working class.
This is not only racist and factually incorrect, it also misses the bigger picture of outsourcing. As my coding professor put it: Do you want to pay three times as much for a t-shirt from your favourite clothing store? Or for a new car? You probably would have to pay a lot more if the said product was made in the United States or Canada.
Labour rates are high in Canada and the United States partially because our cost of living is high. In places like China, India and Mexico, a living wage is a lot lower. $7 an hour is nothing to a Canadian, but it may earn someone in another country a decent living. When rich countries outsource labour to less wealthy countries-so long as there are no sweatshops or child labour involved- it brings prosperity, urbanization and economic growth to those countries. Meanwhile, North Americans get quality goods at a low cost, and we get opportunities to grow our skill-sets and explore new careers.
As a high school student growing up in the early 2010s, I worried about finding a job when I grew up. The first news story I remember being aware of was the great recession, which happened when I was in middle school. Through high school and university, every time I turned on the news or sat in a lecture, I heard about robots and outsourcing making jobs redundant. But my coding professor changed my views on progress and international relations.
What is international relations? Broadly speaking, international relations is the study of globalization, trade and world peace. International relations have shaped our history for centuries, even before the Europeans colonized the land of the First Nations people as they aspired to expand their spice routes.
Trevor Noah puts it well. (Check out the Spices joke)
If you’re interested in globalization, trade and world peace, I highly recommend studying international relations at one of the following Canadian Universities:
1. York University- Glendon Campus.
Glendon’s International Studies program is known as a degree without borders. The program arms students with a deep understanding of how governments, law, politics, business, culture, science and the environment relate to globalization. The degree is so international, that they had to put an ‘I’ in front of the BA (the ‘I’ stands for ‘international’, just so we’re clear).
The faculty includes Glendon grads from prominent positions like the Canadian Foreign Service, Oxfam, and the United Nations.
Glendon also offers opportunities for studying abroad and studying en Francais.
2. Carleton University
What better place to learn about Canada’s place in the world than Canada’s capital? Located in a city full of embassies, world banks and other government organizations that shape Canada’s place on the world stage, Carleton University’s Norman Patterson school of international affairs offers a top-tier education in international relations.
For over fifty years, the school has trained Canadian graduate students in international affairs, but they offer collaborations with Carleton’s undergrad programs too. Carleton’s Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management (or BPAPM) offers a specialization in International Policy Studies in collaboration with Norman Patterson. Carleton’s program is more specialized than most undergrad political science programs. It offers two major concentrations in international relations. Students can analyze International Relations and Conflict, focusing on the management of war and peace. Students can focus on Security and Intelligence, emphasizing national and international security policies (which is like being a real-world SHIELD agent).
The University of British Columbia’s campus offers a view of the gateway to the world. By that I mean, the campus faces the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Ocean helps connect the world. Similarly, UBC’s international relations program helps to connect students to the world.
UBC’s program focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of International Relations, featuring required courses in economics, history and political science. The program also offers a co-op which gives students a four-month-long opportunity to gain experience in their field.
Here are some testimonies from International relations co-op students: