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Critical Shortage of IT Workers in Coming Years 1339

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the waning-popularity dept.
Juzzam writes "The Herald Sun reports that IBM and university officals are worried about the increasing demand for IT professionals and the decreasing supply of computer science students. From the article: 'The slope shows an unbelievable decline in computer science majors,' Astrachan said. 'There are smart people no longer even signing up to take our introductory courses. We need to fix it, or there's not going to be a U.S. work force in computer sciences.'"
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Critical Shortage of IT Workers in Coming Years

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  • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by b00m3rang (682108) * on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:05AM (#12587065)
    It's not nearly difficult enough to get a good tech job yet.

    This article brought to you by ITT Technical Institute.
    • Pig cycle (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nietsch (112711)
      One would expect something a bit smarter from a university. It is not without reason that fewer people are signing up, it might be related to a lack of prospects or something...
      If they really care about the sector as a whole, they should point at the cycles of supply and demand and how they cause the peaks in demand(high salaries, growing bubble) and supply(low salaries).

      • Re:Pig cycle (Score:3, Interesting)

        by redragon (161901)
        Yeah, or how the structure of many organizations leaves you in a Dilbert like position, wondering where the hell you're going to be in 20 years, other than stuck under the same a**hole boss whose salary is probably 4-5 times yours.
      • Re:Pig cycle (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Soybean47 (885009)
        It is not without reason that fewer people are signing up, it might be related to a lack of prospects or something...

        I think it's kind of surprising how many fewer CS students there are, though. I just got my BCS last year, and there were over 120 CS students who started at the same time as me (not sure how many graduated). Do you know how many students applied to CS at my school this year? 12.

        Huh. That's going to cut down on their course options.
    • Economics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by countzer0interrupt (628930) <countzer0interrupt@noSpaM.yahoo.com> on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:15AM (#12587370) Homepage
      I am not an economist, but it seems rational that any (capitalist) government would want a labour force larger than the number of jobs available, so that supply exceeds demand, and the jobs market becomes a buyers' market, thus keeping labour costs (i.e. wages) low in order to keep business profitable, and to help to economy grow. This, BTW, is why in all Western countries there is always a steady number of unemployed people: these are the victims of the government's need for cheap labour for business. IT is no different, and to support the growing numbers of technology businesses it is neccesary to have low-paid tech workers. Sucks I know. Welcome to the West.

      (BTW, you're absolutely right about "good" tech jobs being hard to find - as long as supply exceeds demand, there will be a downward trend towards the lower end of the wage scale.)
      • Re:Economics (Score:5, Informative)

        by SnapShot (171582) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:50AM (#12587538)
        Exactly right. There's a political theory called "cheap labor conservatism [conceptualguerilla.com]" though the cheap labor conservatives, of course, don't call it that.

        from the link...
        • Cheap-labor conservatives don't like social spending or our "safety net". Why. Because when you're unemployed and desperate, corporations can pay you whatever they feel like - which is inevitably next to nothing. You see, they want you "over a barrel" and in a position to "work cheap or starve".
        • Cheap-labor conservatives don't like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. Why. These reforms undo all of their efforts to keep you "over a barrel".
        • Cheap-labor conservatives like "free trade", NAFTA, GATT, etc. Why. Because there is a huge supply of desperately poor people in the third world, who are "over a barrel", and will work cheap.
        • Cheap-labor conservatives oppose a woman's right to choose. Why. Unwanted children are an economic burden that put poor women "over a barrel", forcing them to work cheap.
        • Cheap-labor conservatives don't like unions. Why. Because when labor "sticks together", wages go up. That's why workers unionize. Seems workers don't like being "over a barrel".
        • Cheap-labor conservatives constantly bray about "morality", "virtue", "respect for authority", "hard work" and other "values". Why. So they can blame your being "over a barrel" on your own "immorality", lack of "values" and "poor choices".
        • Cheap-labor conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.
  • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:05AM (#12587067)
    and a good part of the rest of the world..

    For better or worse, that's where it's headed too.

    • Yeah, no joke. No one wants to drop $30,000 on an education only to have their job outsourced to some guy who won't see $30,000 in his lifetime.

      ~Will
  • HA! (Score:3, Funny)

    by StevenHenderson (806391) <stevehenderson@g ... .com minus berry> on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:06AM (#12587070)
    We need to fix it, or there's not going to be a U.S. work force in computer sciences.

    Whew, good thing we have India!

  • Supply and demand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sankyuu (847178) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:06AM (#12587072) Journal
    Simple: Let it happen. This should drive salaries up, then more students will want to take up Computer Science.
    • Re:Supply and demand (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Timesprout (579035) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:15AM (#12587112)
      Its not that simple. The IT business has not shown itself to be very stable over the last few years. Not exactly encouraging as career choice and source of stable income if you have ambitions to get married, buy a house in the burbs etc. I think outsourcing is a factor currently as well. Even most non techies are aware of what has and more importantly what could happen to them should they enter IT. The prospect of suddenly being replaced by an alternative you cannot compete with economically does not engender confidence. If I was leaving school now I have to say I would probably be looking at alternative diciplines as a career choice myself. I doubt the thought of a few quick bucks in an unstable rapidly fluctuating IT market would change that.
      • Re:Supply and demand (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Brendonian (92622) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:56AM (#12587290)
        The fears you highlight are not uncommon, but they are unfounded. Companies from India are not developing very good software. There is a reason outsourcing has not taken over as predicted. And the cultural and distance barriers are make it very unlikely management's 'vision' for a project are translated correctly.

        The market is very ripe in my opinion for US developers. The only thing the offshoring option has done is hold wages down a bit for the last three years, but prices in India are going up too.
        • Re:Supply and demand (Score:5, Interesting)

          by penglust (676005) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:08AM (#12587650)
          The out sourcing trend has several root causes. Every body talks about most of them but I rarely hear one thing that I think is a major reason. Management really does not understand the development process.

          I have worked on a number of projects that management dictated large numbers of people. A couple turned out to be super stars, a few were very good, some were capable to do grunt work and 40% drained a lot of time from the other 60%. This has caused many projects I have worked on to be over budget and long delayed. Often missing marketing windows. Yes even as an engineer I think this is important.

          Where I work now they are constantly trying to hire only "principle level engineers" for the good of the company. This is crap. Every project needs varying levels of experience for a cost / performance trade off of the engineering and busy work that needs to be done. They also cause projects to be over budget and often late because none of the experienced engineers want to do the crap work.

          Now add this to out sourcing. I do believe in the time it takes to write a design document that very carefully outlines every little detail that needs to go into project it could have been coded here anyway. My experience with out sourcing, and this includes India, China and Russia is that every detail is required. That is also my experience with outsourcing in the US. These companies make money by doing the least amount of work for the defined contact. You can not leave even one detail up to a good engineers imagination in these contracts.

          Out sourceing has its place but cannot be the answer for everything. Much of it is the mananement solution "du jour". Much of managment is patting itself on the back at the moment but I still think this will change at some point in time.

          One thing I hate is the business people in america who state catagorically that outsourcing manufacturing is good for america. As I implied above engineering takes ability and interest. The 40% I mentioned above lacked one or both of the two. Just because engineering was paying well did not mean they could perform. Not all members of our society are capable of high tech and require jobs in manufacturing to provide for their families.

          Without projects based in the US there will be no way to screen new graduates for moving up the chain. Trying to entice students in comp sci should be targeted at convincing them there is a future and screening out this who have a chance of creating value for a company.
        • Companies from India are not developing very good software.

          Talking about generalizations...

        • by edremy (36408) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:59AM (#12588100) Journal

          The fears you highlight are not uncommon, but they are unfounded. Companies from India are not developing very good software.

          Setting the Wayback machine for 1960...

          <GM executive>The fears you highlight are not uncommon, but they are unfounded. Companies from Japan are not making very good cars.</GM executive>

    • This should drive salaries up...

      This is exactly why IBM doesn't want IT employee shortage to happen.
      • by zerbot (882848) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:46AM (#12587516)
        There is no IT employee shortage. There are only companies that want to be cheapskates, hire people with exact skillsets, and not hire anybody too old (i.e., over 30).
        • by dr_dank (472072) on Friday May 20, 2005 @09:23AM (#12588327) Homepage Journal
          There is no IT employee shortage

          Agreed. A friend who works in my company's custom programming division (the finance portion, not the tech/IT part) told me that they're always interviewing for C++ programmers but never find candidates.

          That office is full of H1Bs and also has a satellite office in Hyderbad. What he didn't realize until I told him was that those interviews were windowdressing; I'd bet the farm that no one is going to be hired out of those interviews.

          It only serves as justification that "we can't find qualified^H^H^H^H^cheap enough labor, so we have to bring in these guest workers that work for a fraction of their US counterparts".

          The only shortage, in the corporate eye, is in those who work for cheap and can be threatened with deportation like a filapino housemaid if they don't perform up to snuff.
        • Load of crap (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lorcha (464930) on Friday May 20, 2005 @10:55AM (#12589354)
          Tell me where to find good IT employees. I mean ones who can name at least one design pattern and tell me when I might want to use it. Find me someone who has even basic level knowledge about something they claim to be an expert in on their resume.

          I have needs come up all the time, and I have a hell of a time filling them. I can tell you right know I don't give a fuck how old you are, and 99% of the open needs pay 6 figures, so if that's being a cheapskate, I'm not sure what to tell you. As far as the skillsets, well if you don't have the skills then why are you applying for the job? My clients know what they want, they are willing to pay for it, but the folks just aren't out there! They're all taken!

          Oh, sure, I'll post a need and get 100 resumes in a day. But all of them turn out to be what I like to call "fucking morons".

          I love when I ask for an expert J2EE architect and I ask, "What's your favorite J2EE design pattern?" The answer is always MVC (if they can even come up with one at all), which I guess could pass as J2EE, so I ask them to describe it for me.

          "Well... There is this model... and a view... and a controller."

          "No shit. What do the model and view and controller accomplish? How do they fit together?"

          "Well... it's kind of like STRUTS, and I learned about that in my 1 week boot camp that I took 3 years ago."

          "Gee whiz. Ok, tell me what the different types of EJBs are and why might I use them?"

          "Oh, I don't use EJBs."

          "You are an expert J2EE architect. I don't give a fuck if you use them personally or not. Just tell me what the fuck they are and why ANYBODY would use them."

          "Well, I've never really used one. I just know HTML and JSP, so I am an expert J2EE architect."

          "Glad to hear it, dickhead. Thank you for wasting both of our time."

          Or, here's my personal favorite. A guy said he was an expert in Java and an expert in C/C++ (it always makes me nervous when people group C/C++ like that, since while C and C++ share some syntax, they are very fucking different animals!):
          Me: I see you are an expert in Java and C++? What would you say are some differences between Java and C++.

          Him: Java is a dumbed-down version of C++.

          Me: We all have our opinions, but I'm going to suggest you never say that again during an interview for a J2EE position. Have a nice day!

          HELLO! Where do these people come from and why are they interviewing with me for 6 figures instead of the local McDonalds for $6/hr?

          Frustrating!

          • Re:Load of crap (Score:4, Insightful)

            by pla (258480) on Friday May 20, 2005 @11:22AM (#12589657) Journal
            HELLO! Where do these people come from and why are they interviewing with me for 6 figures instead of the local McDonalds for $6/hr?

            Like myself, I would say they come from the C world, have learned Java involuntarily, and hold it at roughly the level of disdain it deserves.

            "A dumbed-down vesion of C++" makes a pretty damned good description of Java, in general - Take a good, clear, flexible, generally-powerful language, C, extend it to allow better abstraction and data encapsulation, C++, then strip away all the underlying features that make it "powerful" in the name of "safety": Java. That nicely sums it up.

            And even with that increased "safety", you can still shoot yourself in the foot (though you might need to wait for garbage collection to finish before the bullet actually leaves the barrel). Bugs result from programmer errors, not from the language used. Whether you add machine words, dereferenced pointers, or abstract objects that represent integers at some ambiguous level, if you expect 2 plus 2 to equal 3, your program won't work.

            As for design patterns - Some of us can actually design and implement an idea. Some of us can recite textbooks to you. In my experience, those two categories very rarely overlap. If you want the latter rather than the former, your loss.
          • Re:Load of crap (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Belial6 (794905) on Friday May 20, 2005 @11:30AM (#12589787)
            They are interviewing with you, and claiming expert status because, as a rule, no company will hire any developer that does not claim expert status. They generally don't really care if you are an expert or not, but you will not get the interview if you don't claim it.

            You say that your clients know what they want, and are willing to pay for it.... Maybe your clients THINK they know what they want, and are willing to pay for it.

            Perhaps what they really want is two guys that are not as good for $50k. Or maybe one guy that is pretty good, but not an expert for $70k, and someone who isn't very good at all for $30k.

            For the last 5 years I have been working for a client that has figured this out. I am part of a two person development team. I am very good at coding, and the woman that I work with is not (and never will be). Our team is fantastic.

            I work on the difficult stuff, and build the framework of our applications, and she handles the grunt work. I am three times more productive because I don't have to worry about getting in and making changes to button labels and display views. She will also take in the bug reports, and more often than not will track down exactly where the error occurse. She might not know how to fix it, but by presenting me with exactly where the error occurse, I can fix it quickly.

            The net result is that the client gets the equivelent of my skill at the price of hers, since someone has to do the work she is doing, and if the client insisted on "experts", they would need someone that makes 3 times as much to do her job with no increase in productivity.
    • by jellomizer (103300) *
      Supply vs. demand works but not always that neatly. What we have now is a shocked area. IT moved form just under Upper Management down to lower end of food chain, very quickly. Where a lot of people went into IT fields did it for the money and the fact that they liked the stuff. But after seeing that IT is a more of a risky career that is market driven, A lot of people are now worried to go in that direction, and right now are becoming a realtor seems more of the job to be in then an IT worker. There is a
  • by b5turbo (850656) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:07AM (#12587075)
    I am a student in college majoring in the IT field but I am seriously considering changing my major due to the outsourcing and job instability that plagues the IT industry as a whole. So I guess you can count me as another statistic.
    • by a trolling stone (884793) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:30AM (#12587170)
      Become a plumber, auto mechanic or such. After all the tech jobs and manufacturing are sent overseas, those will be the good jobs.
      • by ColaMan (37550) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:20AM (#12587399) Homepage Journal
        Agreed.

        From an Australian point of view :
        I was considering a career in computers when I finished school in 1990. I decided to become an auto electrician instead. So now what do I do?

        - I now work on heavy mining equipment.
        - It's not a physically demanding job, but it keeps me relatively fit.
        - I work a roster of 4 12-hour days on and 4 days off.
        - I get paid 85KAUD (more than twice the average .au wage).
        - I get six weeks annual leave and a heap of misc perks.
        - I have a strong (not quite "aggressive" these days) union behind me keeping things safe and sane.
        - I work on equipment that has computers and electronics out the wazoo, and is (relatively) clean
        - I get the satisfaction of changing about 20 million dollars worth of equipment from "broken" to "fixed!" status every day.
        - I get roughly the equivalent of an senior-level IT wage, from a four year apprenticeship that , frankly, any monkey can struggle through.
        - I can also fix my car at home :-)

        Maybe in 10 years time IT will be the big earner again, but by then I'll be a million bucks ahead of that poor post-grad flipping burgers at McD's.

        My advice to kids? Stick with the hands on work, keep computers as a sideline.
        • by zerocool^ (112121) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:46AM (#12587517) Homepage Journal

          Yeah, this is why I'm doing Desktop support and Network Administration.

          You may laugh and say I'm the bottom of the barrel in the IT world, but - regardless of how many programming jobs are being outsourced, there are not less end user computers being purchased, and they will always need someone to clean spyware. And there are always more small businesses who need a simple file server or an exchange calendar, and they'll need someone to consult, sell, implement, and support that.

          And that has to all be hands on. You want job security? Lower your standards and do a job where it is impossible for someone from india to do it.

          ~Will
  • Of course not ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:07AM (#12587076)
    Smart people are becoming IP lawyers. That's were the big bucks is.
  • No Problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by obender (546976) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:09AM (#12587084)
    We'll just raise a clone army.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:10AM (#12587088) Homepage Journal
    No industry has enough people all time. They go through phases of having too many and too much. When there are too many, the people who can't find jobs look to other fields. When there are too few, the opposite happens.

    The fact that there were too few people for the jobs was why I was able to break in to the sysadmin / programming world without any credentials back in 1990.
    • by windex (92715)
      At the same time, however, I think this is a little skewed. I know a lot of people working in IT without degrees, or with non-IT degrees, who do very well. Personally, I've only got a GED, and I've been working professionally on IT projects since I was 15. I'm now nearly 24, and I've yet to have issues obtaining or keeping a job -- I've been at the one I'm at now for 4 1/2 years.
  • by Walkiry (698192) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:10AM (#12587090) Homepage
    >decreasing supply of computer science students

    What does that mean? The real worry is not the lack of IT professionals, but rather the lack of keen, young, fresh and still clueless recently graduated computer science graduates to hire for peanuts and milk for all they're worth.

    Nobody wants someone with 10 years of experience and a family to support, those people expect benefits and regular working hours! The nerve!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:21AM (#12587133)
      "You look at the size of this company, and it's one of the big leaders in its market," Mouallem said. "They do a lot to help students get a chance to work with them. It's really promising."

      And in the same time they fire lots of people to boost there shares.
      http://forbes.com/markets/2005/05/05/0505automarke tscan06.html [forbes.com][IBM Layoff Is Positive Step In Cutting Costs]

      FTA :
      The research firm had estimated that every 1,000 people represents per-share savings of 3 cents to 4 cents for IBM, assuming no loss in revenue.
      Yeah I sooo want to work in that business, they have so much respect for there workers.
    • by akuma624 (690011) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:35AM (#12587190) Journal
      Completely true ... at times I think these companies truly don't understand the skills that only experience can teach. Raw knowledge is great but without any experience it is basically all theory.
    • by AndroidCat (229562) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:22AM (#12587747) Homepage
      Perhaps the problem with declining enrolement is that the courses are too expensive for students to take a chance in a changable market. I modestly propose a solution to this:

      Universities could cut their costs drastically if allowed to fire expensive tenured professors (like Prof Owen Astrachan), and bring in excellent but far cheaper educators on H1B visas from India and other countries. This would allow them to remain competitive and thrive in todays global education market.

      Prof Owen Astrachan and his ilk might selfishly object to this proposal, but they have to understand that the world doesn't owe them an overpaid living, and after lifestyle adjustments, I'm sure he'll be able to pick up work teaching at the local Ace TechTrain! franchise.

  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:11AM (#12587094) Homepage
    They finally noticed that there was a problem. The pipeline been dry for four years now since the dot com went bust and computers are not the guaranteed money tree as it was before. Of course, with all the outsourcing to other countries for cheap talent, it's easy to forget the pipeline here. I wonder when these companies are going to realize that they can't have their cake and eat it at the same time.
  • For those who remain (Score:3, Informative)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro@gmai l . com> on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:15AM (#12587111) Journal
    There may be a shortage of IT workers in the USA indeed soon.
    I may then move to the USA , As one thing a shortage of workers means is a nice hefty salary.
    So for those who remain in the field could very likely expect a rather nice pay rise, for those remaining jobs that don't get offshored that is (mainly tech , Services , administration etc things that can't yet be offshored easily )
  • misrep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:16AM (#12587114)
    Notice the use of the acro 'IT'. That's part of the problem - do you want technical support people filling out the ranks or do you want software developers?

    One of my major gripes about 'the industry' as it stands is the lack of distinction between what is considered 'IT' work and what is programming 'and ecetera and ecetera'.

    Saying 'well, we need more CS grads' is straight depressing. What they should be saying is 'we need more software developers (computer science grads) or we need more System administrators (computer information system grads)'.

    When I was in school it seemed that people wanting to do CIS work were getting CS degrees and visa versa. This discredits to both areas of work.

    All too often I've noticed jobs that require a computer science degree when that should be slated under computer system information management. Or a requirement for a computer engineer when in fact, the work is computer science related.

    Come on folks - let's get our terminology right! I work a job that required a computer science degree and any CIS major could work this job in a heart beat.

    I guess getting the point across regarding what is IT would probably require a weekend feel good seminar for the clinically lost.
  • Not just IT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Momoru (837801) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:20AM (#12587130) Homepage Journal
    Every industry will be critically short of workers in 5-10 years. My company has estimated we may lose as much as 30% of our staff due to babyboomers retiring.
  • by standards (461431) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:21AM (#12587139)
    Congress could allow for more H1B visas, permitting high-quality IT professionals to be brought into the USA where skills are lacking.

    To be honest, most skilled American IT employees are gainfully employed now (with some exceptions in some areas). Some will look at H1Bs as just a way to hire cheap overseas labor to replace current "living wage" American jobs, but in reality there is a real need despite the coincidental labor cost differences.

    Americans should realize that they need to compete in this new world economy by either working for fewer wages and benefits, or by offering much higher skills and capabilities. Or both. Congress realizes this, and should take action to support American business, the economy, and people.
    • by zero_offset (200586) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:57AM (#12587297) Homepage
      Americans should realize that they need to compete in this new world economy by either working for fewer wages and benefits, or by offering much higher skills and capabilities. Or both. Congress realizes this, and should take action to support American business, the economy, and people.

      Which is very nearly a fine definition of the word "extortion".

      Saying that we need to cut our own throats to statisfy THEIR needs -- or they'll simply be "forced" to turn to third-world dirt-hut coders -- amounts to the same thing. And before anyone gives me a lecture on "global economies" and other politically correct bullshit, I'll remind you that I'm only responding to their supposed concern about a lack of US talent.

      If they're so fucking worried about losing in-country talent, then they'd better simply buckle down and pay what it costs to get it. That position is NO DIFFERENT than the position they take when they claim we're too expensive. I counter-claim THEY are too cheap. I further counter-claim that any hand-wringing a US company does about losing US talent is simply a campaign to improve their image, and to suck up to Congress before joining the corporate outcry to allow more H1Bs and to avoid offshoring penalties.

      So ["Insert Corporation Entity Here"] needs to shave a few million to keep stockholders happy? I'd say CEO salaries are a fine place to start, rather than whacking hard-working, often highly skilled people with house and car payments and a family to feed.

      Yeah, same old story.
      • by WoBIX (819410) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:25AM (#12587424)
        What was that number in the news a while back? North American corporate officers receive something like 400 times the salaries of their European counterparts? It's ridiculous.

        Easily as stupid as paying an athlete 90 million dollars to wear sneakers.
        • reference a recent post of mine [slashdot.org] about north american executive salaries.

          Also in europe, note that most employees can get 6 weeks of vacation and a lot of other benefits. It's a tangent, I know, but I'm on a project right now in England, and I'm amazed at the work/life balance here.

          I believe it's directly due to the lack of corruption at the top rungs of the companies. And yes, I consider the multi-million dollar salaries of NA. execs corrupt. The payoff to Carly was a fine example of this. Legal? yes
    • The H1B visa myth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Croaker (10633) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:05AM (#12587334)

      Now, for a dose of reality, check out this opinion piece [arstechnica.com] over at Ars Technica. It points to a study by a UC Davis professor (who wrote this op-ed piece over at News.com [com.com]) found out that there was, in fact, no studies showing a shortage of IT workers. Why would both academics and indistry go off on such a chicken-little hissy fit? Money, of course.

      What IBM and other tech companies really want is dirt cheap labor, not just sufficient labor. Hence their push to get H1B visas while there is still a fairly high unemployment rate among computer professionals (personally, I know of a *lot* of former colleagues who have left the industry because they couldn't find work). H1B workers have their hands tied, since the second they are no longer employed in the US, they get kicked out. That is a huge stick for a company to be able to use against an employee.

      And how does academia benefit from the doom and gloom? Easy. More research grants. More money pumped into computer science departments to "attract new stidents." More territory for people who are more bureacratic empire builders than they are actual educators.

    • When you can reduce my living costs to those of someone in Bangalore, perhaps then I can consider a more "competitive" salary/compensation package.

      Until that time, I've got to pay my bills and feed my family. So I'll stick with my "high" Amercian salary and benefits package, thank you.
    • To be honest? (Score:3, Informative)

      I tell you what dude. The first time a prospective or current employee qualifies a statement with 'to be honest', his ass is fired. Man I love 'right to work' statutes.

      As for your unqualified statements...my sister does training in India and while there ae some highly qualified workers there is also a hidden management structure. Typically she see's a the sharp guy or gal with an entourage of less capable employees who pay tribute in exchange for 'management' in the area of decision making. Not to say thes
    • Americans should realize that they need to compete in this new world economy by either working for fewer wages and benefits, or by offering much higher skills and capabilities.

      We're still waiting for American CEOs to lead the way on this one...

  • by adapt (105738) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:22AM (#12587143) Homepage
    There are plenty of talented IT professionals on the market searching for tech jobs.

    A couple of weeks ago, I logged in Siemens worldwide jobs site, and, in my field, 321 out of 322 open positions were in China.

    Most employers could see the benefits of offering job security and paying decent salaries as an effective means of retaining the talent (and all those hours spent in training...). Instead, they hire temps, pay huge fees to temp agencies and recruiters, they "outsource", etc. Without a knowledge base, there is no future in any company.

    It is more a problem of "if I pay you less, I can keep more for myself" than a true lack of qualified professionals on the market. If engineers wanted to flip burgers they would have studied at the burger flipping college! :)

  • by rongage (237813) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:25AM (#12587149)

    If IBM were so concerned about the number of IT workers, maybe it should become a better employer first.

    You see, IBM for the past several years has been on a hiring binge, but with very rare exception, every new hire is brought in as a "supplemental". A supplemental, by IBM's definition, is a temporary position that CAN NOT continue past 18 months. Once your supplemental service is over, you are blacklisted by IBM for another 6 months - no rehire possible.

    When I left IBM (near the end of my supplemental "tour of duty"), IBM was in a hiring freeze, there was no way to become a full-time employee, regardless of demand. Oh, and as a supplemental for IBM, the ONLY benefit you are eligible for is the employee stock purchase plan. That's right, no insurance, no 401k or pension, no education assistance, nothing else!

    If IBM needs more employees, then they need to stop chewing through their existing stock (and spitting them out) so rapidly.

    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:28AM (#12587443)
      You worked for IBM Global Services, right? They're real champions at burning out anyone even vaguely competent. I have a friend still recovering from a long stint working for them.
  • Huh ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alexhs (877055) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:27AM (#12587159) Homepage Journal
    Yesterday (still on the bottom of the front page) :
    Technology Paradise Lost
    [...] many believe that the sector will regain its past glory and blistering growth rates. [...] it's not going to happen. [...]

    Today :
    Critical Shortage of IT Workers in Coming Years
    [...] worried about the increasing demand for IT professionals [...]

    If there's no sector growth, is there really increasing IT workers demand ?

    Aren't these mutually exclusive points of view ?
  • *Yawn* not again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GauteL (29207) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:52AM (#12587273)
    There is no real shortage of IT-people, only a shortage of people that are willing to work for almost nothing.

    The industry's wet dream is for IT-workers to become completely disposable and low paid.

    We really should not let this happen, and most could use a history lesson to figure out what happens when we get into this situation.

    There once was a seriously real need for labour unions folks, and that time could easily come again. Maybe it is already here.
  • Same old - same old (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tsotha (720379) on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:53AM (#12587281)
    I've been hearing this kinda crap since I got out of school almost twenty years ago. Every time we're in the boom part of the cycle it's "we don't have enough [CS graduates | Engineers]". During a bust it's "We won't have enough to support the economy in a few years." Well kids, let me clue you in.

    It's all a scam.

    Big computer, defense, and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing companies pay shills in academia and "think tanks" to gin up these kinds of studies every couple of years so Congress has some political cover when they increase the H1-B cap. It's not true, and it never has been. The only shortage that ever materialized in those two decades happened during the boom, and that was caused by a huge spike in demand.

    The goal here is to make sure there's plenty of hungry technical people around so they don't have to pay them too much.

  • by rah1420 (234198) <rah1420@gmail.com> on Friday May 20, 2005 @06:57AM (#12587300)
    There are two things that many /.ers here are missing when they knee-jerk "blablabla India blablabla $5 bux an hour bla no benefits."

    Pretty soon companies that are flocking to the third world will run out of qualified IT workers there too. Then the salaries will start rising. How long before they reach equilibrium? I'll bet not very long.

    Too, I haven't read TFA yet (running out the door to my non-outsourced IT job) but I will bet that it didn't make mention of the huge proportion of workers (and not just IT workers) that are getting close to retirement age. We could see a spike in demand the likes of which nobody has seen, and one that even a third-world supply of workers won't be able to fill; all to replace current positions, to say nothing of economic expansion. (Business 2.0 had a recent article about it called "The Coming Job Boom.")

    I'm 45 and I work in IT. I'm not worried. In a few years it'll be raining soup. Grab a bucket.
  • Advise to my son (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shancock (89482) * on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:13AM (#12587362)
    I've told him that computer science in important but only secondary to the actual profession he will choose in college and grad school so he will have the necessary tools to work with in his chosen field.

    Why choose IT when our arrogant US govt rewards corporations for outsourcing and keeps increasing the number of foreign student and work visas for the fewer jobs here instead of rebuilding and expanding our educational systems.

    No need for IT grants here or money for research projects or support for local education funding when we can get it done in China or India. We would rather spend our money on wars, and since we have a monopoply on the OS anyway, who cares.

    So son, become a doctor or an architect or a marine scientist or something you enjoy first, then get the tools to do the jobs yourself, and oh yes, learn Mandarin along with your Spanish.

  • Just pure BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nandu_prahlad (706343) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:14AM (#12587364)
    As an Indian grad student here in the US, I have found many of my US classmates to be way ahead of majority of my peers back in India when it comes to algorithmic ability.

    Perhaps its got to do with the current job situation where only the people who are truly interested in Computer Science, major in it. So you have students of much higher quality.

    Judging from the total disregard for the job market shown by some of my US friends shows that the US still has a very bright future in Computer Science as long as these "anomalies" are around.

    These companies have vested interest in outsourcing cheap labour. Don't believe what they say. They just wanna keep salaries low and their bottomlines high. The anomalies are more common than they would have you believe!

  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:14AM (#12587365)
    Corporations that live for this Quarters profits can't seem to manage a simple extrapolation of the resut of outsourcing and destroying their local brainforce.

    I work for a tech corp that has laid of 60 000 people (or about 60% of the brainforce). Those that remain are in hell for a few reasons:

    1: We are expected to get double the work done.
    2: We spend most days interacting with Indian Contractors. Makes #1 harder.
    3:Coding we used to enjoy has be replaced by draconian productivity sapping process. We metric our coders to death. Klocs is the new religion. I am in the invite list for several doc reviews and code reviews per day. Makes #1 harder.

    I really wonder when the have outsourced most of this where they think the next generation of tech leaders will come from. It is not hard to imagine that India/China will stop serving our interests and instead compete with us. Already happening in my industry (telecom).

    We are led by short sighted morons.
  • What do you wanna bet that the ITAA or some similar coalition of IT industry companies bought this little bit of propaganda, simply to help manufacture consent for raising the cap on h1b visas and retaining L1 visas?
  • A job vs. college (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mjh (57755) <markNO@SPAMhornclan.com> on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:20AM (#12587394) Homepage Journal
    Paul Graham [wikipedia.org] has a different idea. [paulgraham.com] He thinks that some kids should consider the educational advantage you'd get from starting a business instead of going to college. Especially kids with interest in technology. It sounds like Paul was making a suggestion, but I wonder if he's actually describing something that's already happening.
  • Well, duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DukeLinux (644551) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:42AM (#12587500)
    Salaries are declining thanks to outsourcing and the career basically stinks. I teach Java part-time at a local college. My course has been cancelled twice due to inadequate enrollment. The kids are getting a clue that all the hard work to obtain a degree in the sciences is not worth it. CEO's are "C" students at best who excel in lying and bullying. The U.S. will let this one slip, we will mint more lawyers and someday we will be so screwed. My B.S. is in engineering and I work for a Mortgage Company. They pay better and they don't go out of business after a year. My M.S. is in C.S. and that I believe was a waste of my time. Pity isn't it?
  • by cardpuncher (713057) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:48AM (#12587527)
    Judging by most of the job adverts I'm reading at the moment (I'm in the process of closing down an IT company I've been running for more than a decade and will need an alternative source of income) don't require IT "professionals", they require IT "tradesmen" with specific and transient skills to nurse equipment from a small number of vendors.

    When I graduated, back in the days when punched cards and paper tape were still common, there was no single vendor dominance of vast swathes of the IT industry and it was therefore important to teach people the principles of Computer Science - algorithms, algorithmic complexity, computational methods, principles of machine operations, operating system design, relational database design - rather than turning out people familiar with Windows, C++ and Oracle knowledge.

    People with those fundamental skills have much greater adaptability and potential career longevity - after all, very little has changed in the fundamentals in the last 25 years although superficial things have changed considerably. I can quite happily pick up a book and start programming in C# or Java if I need to; on the other hand, the graduates I've had in recently for interview can competently operate Visual Studio but seem rather hazy about balanced trees, queues or the performance implications of changing privilege modes on the average CPU. And perhaps they don't need to - some library or "wizard" will hide the difficult bits in some way no-one will quite understand, but probably won't break until the original coder has moved on.

    It seems employers don't want people with "fundamental" skills who can adapt to changing technologies, they want an MSIE/CNAA/xyz who can deal with a specific problem at a specific point in time and whom they can replace later on with someone with a different "qualification" when their needs change.

    Unforunately, universities seem to have commoditised their graduate programmes to churn out tradesmen in contemporarily fashionable skills to supply the job market as it exists rather than fulfilling their traditional roles of providing the foundations for lifelong professional development.

    It's no wonder that people aren't going in for these kind of courses, knowing their career lifetimes are likely to be relatively short and tied to the waxing and waning fortunes of manufacturers.

    If you want to work in a trade, you can earn considerably more being a plumber or electrician than working in IT. I'm seriously considering it.

    If you want to be an "IT professional", the opportunities to do so are few and far between. You're probably better advised to find a nice Open Source Software project to work on in your spare time...
  • by AB3A (192265) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:53AM (#12587552) Homepage Journal
    In the mid 1970s, when the space race slowed down, there was an entire generation of aerospace engineers who lost their jobs all over the country.

    Space was supposed to have been the future. But it didn't turn out that way. The number of engineering students in universities dropped precipitously. After all, why go in to a job like that with little or no future, where your industry could evaporate overnight at the whim of a few "business leaders."

    Later in the Early 1990s, I witnessed something similar when half of my class at the university disappeared because all the major defense contractors were laying off.

    Engineers and other technology workers are well paid in good times. However, you need to keep a reserve and a backup career just in case the industry you're working in goes in to the toilet.

    In the scheme of industries which have suffered, you folks in IT have little to complain about. Ask an engineer from the 1970's what life was like after the Apollo missions ceased.

    • by boomgopher (627124) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:43AM (#12587927) Journal
      "In the scheme of industries which have suffered, you folks in IT have little to complain about. Ask an engineer from the 1970's what life was like after the Apollo missions ceased."

      I met a guy in the mid 90s who was once an engineer in the Apollo program. What was he doing? He was a cemetary plot dealer, I was buying one for a family member. Kind of poetic, from the theme of this article.


  • Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Canthros (5769) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:15AM (#12587702)
    I'm tired of being unable to have a career because there are 8 million idiots with a pile of certifications and a bunch of bad ideas clogging up the job mills.
  • by Wansu (846) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:28AM (#12587792)

    None of the labor shortages predicted during the past 30 years has come to pass.

    Some pundits, politicians and industry leaders seem to think that if the market is flooded with more technical degreed graduates, industry will be attracted. In other woirds, build it and they will come. That's putting the cart before the horse.

    Enrollments have risen and fallen in direct proportion to the demand for graduates of the curriculum. For the past 5 years companies have been shedding workers in the US. Consequently, enrollments in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering have fallen dramatically. Should this trend continue, these curricula may be discontinued or scaled back at many of the 2nd and 3rd tier engineering schools.
  • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:30AM (#12587812) Homepage Journal
    We've been hearing this for years, while most of us have been applying for 1 tech job opening that gets 2000 or so applicants.

    Where is the shortage? It's crap.

    I think this is what big business keeps saying so they can convince the US gov't to let them bring in more H1B's who'll work for a bag of peanuts every week.
  • by kiwimate (458274) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:32AM (#12587819) Journal
    If there's a dramatic decline in people willing to take even introductory comp. sci. courses, where are they going instead, and why? Accounting or business majors, because that's where the money is?

    If you have a big drop in the percentage of top people going the computer science or IT route, then they must be a corresponding increase in the people taking other courses. Either a big jump in specific areas, or else it's dispersed across disciplines. The former indicates that there's a specific discipline that is now seen as a hot item. The latter indicates that computer science/IT is now seen as a cold item. So, which is it? And, if the former, is it just our path, or are there other disciplines similarly affected? All the sciences, for example?

    Once you know what the real reasons are behind the figures, then maybe you can do something to intelligently address the problem.
  • by Foolomon (855512) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:42AM (#12587919) Homepage
    I'm a software developer / architect working in Manhattan and here's what I've seen in this area over the past year or so.

    In spite of the fact that there are more jobs available, companies are still only willing to pay salaries in line with the Dot Com Bust era. In other words, I get calls almost every day (and frequently multiple calls) from recruiters who are representing clients that want to pay 35% less than what I was making as a full-time employee in 2002 and 25% less than I'm making now as a 1099 consultant now.

    The ones who are willing to pay the higher salaries (read: Wall St.) expect skillsets that are so specific that they will not talk to you if you do not have every one of them. In my opinion, they are asking for trouble because the technologies in use there are used very rarely outside of those sectors. When the IT staff they have in place now decide to move on, they will be hard-pressed to find trained people to replace them.

    I actually had an HR employee at a company who was interested in me as a potential employee tell me that their guideline for translating 1099 to full-time salary was to subtract 30%. I asked her how they arrived at that figure and her response was that it took into consideration benefits, vacation time, sick days and retirement plans.

    Color me stupid but benefits these days are not what they used to be from the perspective of the amount the company contributes. I pay less than double than others at full time companies do, but I'm paying 100% of the cost. This isn't your father's IBM where the company paid for nearly everything and you had an amazing medical, dental, vision, etc. plan.

    Couple that with the fact that the vast majority of people do not take a lot of sick days each year and you have me scratching my head and wondering what drugs that HR person was on when she told me 30% and expected me to accept it like it was a given.

    Am I living in a pipe dream?

    • by eseneca1 (858509) on Friday May 20, 2005 @09:21AM (#12588312)

      I have experinced the same thing as a programmer. I was laid-off during the burst and could not get a job because I was overqualified. People would not hire me for 35% less because they figured I would just leave when someone came up to what I am worth.

      My solutions was simple, I started my own business until I was able to get a new job. I refuse to accept a full time position that will require me to give up that business and now I have a high paying full time job and a thriving programming business on the side. I suggest for any programmer that they do not sign any IP agreements and tie themselves into one company. Do not put all your eggs in one basket....

      I am no longer afraid of the outsourcing issue becasue I have found that many of the major companies are oursourcing but many of the small businesses in your area do not know anyone in India and do not want to deal with someone they cannot see and talk too. There is a very fertile field of work that makes me plenty of money.

      My formula does not work for everyone but it is what i have experienced.

  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday May 20, 2005 @09:13AM (#12588206) Homepage Journal
    With the influx of morons and idiots into the IT world during the dotbomb bubble who thought they could code, things have gotten dismal in IT. We have a ton of useless wannabees who barely made it through college (or worse) some of the more useless certifications out there. This is why I have to deal with two apps where I work that just suck ass in so many ways. People got "better ideas" and took systems that worked, ripped them out, and implemented new stuff just because it was cool. Then when people in the industry stand back and take a real good look, we see IT overflowing with crap software written by people who don't even understand what structured or object-oriented programming is other than some cool sounding buzzwords.

    We have VB "programmers" and Flash "programmers" filling up teh intarwebs with more useless and poorly written "apps". We have people replacing perfectly good and efficient text interfaces with point and click GUIs where such a thing is NOT beneficial. Case in point... where I work we had a decent text menu based system but it got replaced with a poorly designed GUI. The users all complain about how what they used to do in just a few seconds now takes minutes. And they're right. Now this company is going to implement this monstrosity in Java. Can you believe it? JAVA for god's sake!!! They can't even write a proper app in their hodgepodge of C and they plan to do this in Java?

    The drop off in people going for computer related degrees can only mean one thing: the wannabees have left the building because the party is over. This means that the only people signing up are people who (gasp!!) LIKE to PROGRAM. People who CAN PROGRAM! Making money with computers is OK, but unless you love these machines, you shouldn't bother. All the "get rich quick" types ruined the business during the 90s but now those fair weather friends aren't so hot to get into IT because now there's work to be done...
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday May 20, 2005 @09:48AM (#12588624)
    Has anybody noticed that for the last five years, somebody publishes an article with the exact same argument about six months?

    And that the article is thoroughly debunked here on slashdot, in the exact same manner?

    *sigh* Okay one more time:

    1) To work as a lawyer/doctor/nurse/chemical engineer, you must have a degree like JD/MD/RNBS/BSCE. IT has never been like that, and still isn't. A CCIE or CISSP will earn you more than BSCS. Very few IT jobs require a degree of any kind, and the few IT jobs that do require a degree, will typically accept any technical degree.

    2) How many IT workers can actually be called "Computer Scientists" ? There are all sorts of IT related degrees today: network engineering, software engineering, information science, etc. Most of these degrees seem much closely related to an actual IT job roles than "computer science."

    3) The IT is glutted as it is. Where is the crises in a lack new BSCSs? Especially when that degree was never in high demand, even when there was a shortage of IT pros.

    4) IT jobs are sent overseas as fast the major companies can ship them. Why train for a field that is already glutted, and likely to get worse?

    5) I suspect that employers will never be satisfied with the pool of IT workers; and that colleges are finding it difficult to find people to sign up for the nearly worthless BSCS (especially women). So we see these bogus articles about the the bogus shortage of BSCSs. College comp sci departments, and employers are looking out for their interests - not yours.

  • Fool Me Once (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ranger (1783) on Friday May 20, 2005 @09:53AM (#12588689) Homepage
    IBM and university officals are worried about the increasing demand for IT professionals and the decreasing supply of computer science students.

    The old adage "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me." applies here. IBM and other companies obviously want to increase the number of H1-B's and universities want to increase the number of students. So many IT people were burned when the dot com bubble burst that they are rightly not interested in going back or into the field. And to add insult to injury what few jobs were left were filled by the H1-B's, essentially company serfs with the govt's blessing.

    I only recently after almost four and a half years got a REAL job in the IT field again. Three of those years were spent in call center hell. Bottom line: Choose a field you are going to love, come thick or thin. Not based on where the demand is, real or imagined.
  • There's plenty... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smagruder (207953) <stevem@webcommons.biz> on Friday May 20, 2005 @11:49AM (#12590068) Homepage

    of us "old" IT guys in our 30's and 40's (many of us unemployed or underemployed) who can be retrained inexpensively compared to putting new students through the four-year universities.

    Stop the age discrimination, corporate America!!!

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