Are Indian Developers More Skilled Than Americans? (Updated)

Is there any truth to the belief that U.S. tech jobs are outsourced to India at least in part because Indian developers are better skilled than U.S. workers? According to GILD, a company that combines professional social networking with games that assess skills, there are some areas in which Indians beat their counterparts in the U.S, but there are others in which Americans excel. GILD examined the results of over 1 million assessments taken by over 500,000 developers with an average of 2-3 years of experience.

According to GILD:

  • Indian developers outscore U.S. developers by 11% on math and logic analytical skills
  • U.S. programmers outperform Indian programmers on mainstream programming languages including C (US 8% higher), JAVA (9% higher) and SQL (9% higher)
  • U.S. professionals score higher on web programming languages: 53% higher scores on advanced PHP; 27% higher on advanced HTML
  • U.S. tech professionals are 33% better skilled than Indian counterparts at English communication skills

In an announcement, GILD CEO Sheeroy Desai said that “America still holds a strong lead when it comes to web development, but I suspect the gap will narrow over the next few years.”

Photo by andi.vs.zf

Update: I regret posting this. I should have known that it would end up being a sounding board for racist comments and confirmation bias. The data, however, doesn’t support any conclusion as to which group of people is “better.” It shows, within this sample, that one group does better on math and logic and one group does better on specific technologies.

What can we conclude from this? Not much. We can speculate that it means that Indian schools do better at teaching the fundamentals and that U.S. schools do better at teaching specific tech skills. It doesn’t tell us whether any one individual programmer is better than another, or even whether a particular outsourcing firm is better than another.

What I do think it does, which is why I posted in the first place, is challenge the notion that one particular pool of talent (local talent vs. foreign talent) is more skilled than another. We can probably expect someone talented in math and reasoning to be able to pick up a programming language in time, if they apply themselves. We can probably also expect someone who demonstrates proficiency in their particular technology to do a good job using that technology and translate at leastw some of those skills to another domain, if they apply themselves. So it ends up being sort of a wash.

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