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Computer Science as a Major and as a Career 578

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the people-too-worried-about-everything dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IBM DeveloperWorks is running an interesting Q&A with Director of IBM's Academic Initiative, Gina Poole. In the article she talks specifically about taking computer science as a major and ultimately as a career. From the article: 'There are a couple of reasons [for the decline in science and engineering degrees]: one is a myth, believed by parents, students, and high school guidance counselors, that computer science and engineering jobs are all being outsourced to China and India. This is not true. The percentage of the total number of jobs in this space is quite small -- less than 5%. According to a government study, the voluntary attrition in the U.S. has outpaced the number of outsourced jobs to emerging nations. Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S.'"
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Computer Science as a Major and as a Career

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  • Go for it! (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday April 08, 2006 @12:44PM (#15091195) Homepage Journal
    I will also chime in here and say that there is a significant need for computer scientists. Just to give you some idea of the demand, computer science post-docs can command six figure salaries compared to salaries in the range of 30-35k for bioscience post-docs.

    But here is the deal.... We are not looking for people to help administer our systems. That is relatively easy to do, particularly with operating systems like OS X. You have to be bright and willing to work on *new* problems particularly those dealing with data management and visualization. Many comp-sci students want to go create games and there is a market for that, but where the technology for games really comes from is basic science research dealing with real-world problems. And in fact, some games and game engines are now being applied to real world problems.

    There are a couple of exciting projects I am working on in these fields, namely I have just been asked to sit on the board of a media group that will deal with some of these issues and real world application of games and other digital media. Alexander Seropian (of Bungie fame) is also on this board and it should be interesting to see where this goes. Additionally, our research in a new area of bioscience called metabolomics looks ready to take off and we are working with a number of comp-sci graduate students, post-docs and faculty to create tools to deal with the types of data we use to pick out signatures of cells much like the CIA and NASA use to determine signatures of "things" they are interested in. Also data management and communication is another field that is very much in demand and we are working with groups to help us create databases that can be mined and used interactively to collaboratively annotate and discuss data with multiple users.

    Lemme tell you folks, if you are interested in computer science, go for it. There is certainly a market for talented programmers and looking four to ten years in the future (which is about as far as I can), the demand will be there.

    • Me for example: nearly two years into a "* Studies for Dummies" degree, which has been a major disappointment, spending all my time programming and all my (spare) money on related books. No impressive maths qualifications beyond the national minimum, and no formal recognition of computing skills.

      Can anyone offer any words of advice, encouragement, or disdain about my growing urge to throw it all away and do something programming-related in a year or two? I'm talking about the UK, here by the way, in case yo

      • I found that the subject of the degree really doesn't make the blindest bit of difference in the technical job market. Where you did it probably does. So, if your university isn't in the top 15 it's probably worth doing a 1 year MSc at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial etc to get the institution name on your CV. Otherwise, if you can demonstrate code that you have developed, and have at least a 2:1 there is no need to do a formal CompSci education.
      • I am also in the UK and I found that the first 2 years of my degree (in Manchester) was a joke. The last year was pretty good though.
        After my comp sci degree I started a PhD in engineering. I'm now in my final year of that, and into the 2nd year of an open university physics degree.

        I've come to love engineering and physics, using my comp sci knowledge to use in those fields. Lots of fun :-)
    • A computer science post doc has roughly as much education as a doctor. "Can command six figures" displays the shortage is nowhere near serious enough. "Can command seven figures" and you would have a flood of people willing to do 8-11 years of post college education.
      • Re:Go for it! (Score:5, Informative)

        by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:25PM (#15091402) Homepage Journal
        A computer science post doc has roughly as much education as a doctor.

        Yes, very true. And, in fact, with a Ph.D. in Comp. Sci., you get to be called "doctor".

        "Can command six figures" displays the shortage is nowhere near serious enough. "Can command seven figures" and you would have a flood of people willing to do 8-11 years of post college education.

        What world do you live in? Do you understand that the average income for an M.D. is about $150k? Do the math. Do you understand that most of us "doctors" don't go around driving high end automobiles or living in mansions? If that's what you want, then go sell real estate or something where you can makes lots of money for very little work.

      • It is much easier to get into a computer science post-doc program than med school. Further, he was making a direct comparison with Biology Post Docs, and honestly there aren't many post docs better than CS one, with regard to pay.
  • I get uncomfortable when I hear people trying to rationalize outsourcing, painting it as less insidious than it is. I'm especially confused when, from the slashdot article quotes like:

    Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S.

    propose the ludicrous!

    If there are nine U.S. jobs created for every outsourced job, I would infer a couple of things:

    • someone should do the math, and calculate how many jobs we need to create in the U.S. to achieve 100% employ
    • Gina: Absolutely. To say, "20% of IT jobs are being outsourced" is alarming, but there are whole new fields opening up, new disciplines that will be in huge demand. Some of the more traditional IT positions -- application maintenance, transcription services, base application development -- may be outsourced for a number of reasons, principally cost and availability of workers.

      I can understand "cost", but "availablity of workers"?

      Or is that another way of saying "cost"? If there are more people in India w

    • On the interval [t1, t2] the number of jobs exported is K and the number of jobs created domestically is N. They look at the numbers for this interval see N:K is 9:1. Then they tell you, "for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S." They aren't implying this because it doesn't support their thesis, but the rate of change for K and N is not constant, so the ratio of new jobs to exported jobs isn't constant. It also says nothing about the nature of the created or exp
    • by Jerf (17166) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:07PM (#15091316) Journal
      Your arguments are more obviously ludicrous than the ones in the article. Yours are absurd on their face, whereas the ones in the article can be true, but I would want to have more substantiation than just this one person's word.

      For example, if 8 million Americans are out of work, we should outsource 1 million American jobs.

      You are assuming linearity where there is not even a faint trace of it. If I have the capability to produce 1000 cars, and I sell 900 of them, that does not mean that if I double my capacity, I will sell 1800 of them. That is to say, the fact that I today have a 90% sale rate means nothing, in terms of trying to predict what would happen if I change my sale rate. Similarly, the claim that 8 jobs are created for every outsourced job only holds true under current conditions (if any). If you force the outsourcing of jobs, odds are that since almost by definition that will be less economically efficient, that ration will drop. It's not written in stone.

      You are also assuming that you can artificially just jack up the supply of jobs with no consequences, also patently false. Jobs are an economy, and there is demand (work to be done and the money to pay for it) and supply (workers willing to do the work). Neither side of that equation can be magically changed without affecting the other.

      someone should be firing management! If every outsourced job creates 9 new ones, management fails in its cost savings argument. (That is unless of course, the nine new jobs combined actually pay less than the outsourced job -- which may actually be a possibility.)

      This is a continuation of failing to view the job market as a market. Jobs are not cost centers alone, as you seem to imply, because if they were, the ideal number of jobs would be "zero". The correct criteria is to compare the in-sourced job's generated value, accounting for the cost of paying the worker, and the outsourced job + the other created job's values, accounting for the cost of paying them. While the pay in the second scenario will almost certainly be higher, the value may be much greater too.

      Now note I'm not saying these numbers are correct, I'm just saying you are quite wrong.

      By using the same sort of understanding that you are lacking, we can actually show a much greater case that there is something fishy about these numbers. Often in this sort of situation, there is what we call "low-hanging fruit", initial actions you can take which will have great results, and then you eventually get into "diminishing returns". If outsourcing a single job is capable of creating enough value to support the pay of nine new workers, than that strikes me as still being well into the "low-hanging fruit" stage, and people ought to still be aggressively outsourcing as the gains are so obvious and big. However, it is also obvious that outsourcing has either slowed or is starting to slow, and the backlash is well into the "development" stage... and note that's not a legal backlash I'm referring to, but people pointing out it doesn't seem to actually save much money. That's also a stage these sorts of things go through, and that occurs when the low-hanging fruit is basically gone and the new-comers are noticing they aren't getting the promised results.

      Thus, I would expect the correct statistic is that you can expect a 1.3x-1.8x improvement for an outsourced job, which is the range where you start questioning the whole thing, although with large variation. ("Large variation" also implies that there will be many people who lose, which would also start to contribute to the backlash.)

      Now that's a criticism of the numbers.
    • Where does it say outsourcing a job CAUSES 9 jobs to be created?

      It just happens to be than there is a ratio of 1 outsourced job to 9 new American jobs.

      I guess posting on Slashdot doesn't mean good understanding of cause and effect.
      • Where does it say outsourcing a job CAUSES 9 jobs to be created?

        Well, it doesn't say that! I guess that's why I said I could "infer" (draw a possible conclusion from someone's implication, intentional or otherwise, in this case, I think intentional).

        It just happens to be than there is a ratio of 1 outsourced job to 9 new American jobs.

        Yeah? Your point?

        I guess posting on Slashdot doesn't mean good understanding of cause and effect.

        Or cynicism for that matter.

        -Best Regards...

    • The statistics that didn't make sense to me was when she said enrollment was down 32% for the last 4 years. This was surprising given the fact that wages for American computer science graduates have also gone down for the last 4 years as well. That means that even with less supply of CS grads, the demand has gone down further. If there really was huge demand for these graduates, then we would be seeing increasing wages as supply decreased.
  • From the article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey (942717) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @12:50PM (#15091231) Homepage Journal
    Why do women shy away from this field? Reason number one is the view that it is for loners and geeks.

    That's because, mostly, it is. Trying to pretend that it's not isn't going to help things. Some kinds of jobs attract some kinds of people and we just have to accept that.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
    • It doesn't have to be at all.

      But I can tell you from personal expiriance talking to my female friends at school (I'm a guy) that they get hit on. A lot. By geeks. And nerds. And losers. And nice guys.

      But that tension is there, at least in the beginning. As you get further into your degree and know you classmates better then the girls are seen by more people as colleges instead of "the girl" which many may see them as up front.

      It's not terrible, but don't think that being a girl in a CS program would be j

    • by Hollinger (16202) <michael@holli n g e r . net> on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:33PM (#15091454) Homepage Journal
      That's because, mostly, it is. Trying to pretend that it's not isn't going to help things. Some kinds of jobs attract some kinds of people and we just have to accept that.

      That's not true.

      Everything I do in at work [ibm.com] is a team effort. In fact, working as a loner is a very quick way to annoy many people crucial to your success, and kill your career. On top of that, I'd say that it's becoming increasingly hard to do anything significant as a loner, because new systems and applications are too massive to be developed by a single person.

      I see a sort of natural selection at work, where those that have the "soft" skills and people skills tend to be more successful, and those that don't get stuck on a more "standard" career path. Maybe where you work it's that way, but at IBM (at least in Austin), things are different.

      ~ Mike
      • Re:From the article (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:49PM (#15091511)
        I see a sort of natural selection at work, where those that have the "soft" skills and people skills tend to be more successful, and those that don't get stuck on a more "standard" career path. Maybe where you work it's that way, but at IBM (at least in Austin), things are different.

        Having worked a contract at one of IBM's places in Austin, I want to chime in and say this is completely correct. At IBM you need the "soft skills" all right. If you don't ass-kiss and boot-lick, you're not going anywhere.

        That was the only place I was actually glad they cut my contract short, as it was obvious they weren't interested in keeping someone who focused on getting the work done, as opposed to sucking up to the right people.
        • Re:From the article (Score:3, Interesting)

          by metamatic (202216)
          What you need to be able to do is to balance conflicting goals. "Getting the work done" is only one of them. Here are a few others:

          - Retaining good working relationships with other teams, for when you need their assistance on other projects. (Example: Not pissing off the useless IT department and then having to ask for their help setting up an external server.)

          - Meeting corporate mandated standards. (Example: Meeting accessibility requirements, even if you happen to know that nobody currently using the appl
      • by Foerstner (931398)
        Being a "loner" does not necessarily mean that you can't work effectively as part of a team. It merely means that you are inwardly focused.

        For that matter, there are a lot of outgoing, sociable people who can be disruptive in a team environment.
    • Of course. Sitting at a computer for eight hours a day is not a social job. It doesn't attract outgoing people, at least not in the sense that most people mean. The misfits, the unattractive, the nonathletic, those not into participating in sports, the unsocialized, they will and do fit comfortably into a job with little human interaction. And they are overwhelmingly male.

      Women will *tend* not to enter a profession loaded with misfit, not-conventionally attractive males with odd social habits. This is what
      • Of course. Sitting at a computer for eight hours a day is not a social job.

        I'm sitting at my computer for 2-3 hours on a normal day. The rest of the time is occupied with meetings and email, which are inherently social.

  • I graduated in 2003 with a Comp Sci degree, and I'm am one of the few of my friends that is in a career where things I learned in my classes are actually applied at my job. There is outsourcing I won't deny that, but as the article says it's not as bad as everyone assumes it to be. I was scared at first after graduating and going month after month without a job offer, mostly due to my entry level experience, but I did get several offers later on. If you apply yourself well in your Comp Sci classes, get g

  • Aren't the ones that require CS majors, they are the ones that arts majors who have "re-trained, were doing or the ones who did CS as a minor with "business" or media studies.

    As someone who has tried over the past few years to hire top rate people I can safely say that CS majors from good universities are still very much in demand. What we don't need is volume, what we need is quality. Volume is what India and China give us, quality is what top rate CS gives us. And the more volume that comes on tap, th
    • ...As someone who has tried over the past few years to hire top rate people I can safely...

      Thank you for clearly labeling your interest in the matter. It seems reasonable that you should come down on the same side as the official IBM position, because you have the same interests. Probably in cheap labor willing to work overtime without pay, but you aren't explicit enough to be sure.

      Were I starting college now, I would NOT choose CompSci. I'm not really sure just what I would choose, but then I haven't be
  • The real title of the article should be: Power Architecture directions: Two-year-old Academic Initiative enhances computer science curricula, seeks to reverse student decline and sell as much IBM stuff in the proccess. See the following questions from the article:

    1) How is the curriculum linked to teaching or use of IBM technology?

    2) How can IBM Business Partners participate in the Academic Initiative?

    3) Do participating schools gain an incentive, financial or otherwise, to acquire IBM equipment, softwa
  • That's Not Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:02PM (#15091287) Homepage
    I'm a CIS major. I enjoy it. If you do to, go for it.

    But that's not why enrollment is down.

    I started college in 2000/2001. The end of the boom. It was VERY obvious that a large portion of the students didn't care about the subject. They weren't too interested in the material. They often didn't know much about how to even use computers above very basic things.

    It's clear why there were there. They were in it for the money. At that time all you heard about was the exploding tech sector and 19 year old multi-millionares and getting $90k salaries right out of college. They saw gold and they ran for it. Many of them were very nice people, and some of them tried VERY hard and had a great commitment to the subject that they weren't personally that interested in (I wouldn't be able to do it), but many of them were just trying to slide by to get the money, or had no idea what they wanted to do so they went with the one that had the $$$ behind it.

    Now that the bubble has burst (combined with the threat of outsourcing and such, real or imagined) it's not seen as an ultra-lucrative career so people aren't going into it like they used to.

    Where ARE they going? From what little I've seen, the new hot things are degrees that get you to accounting (returning favorite), lawyering (classic money maker), or the new hot stuff: biotech. Those are where the gold-rushers are going.

    So CS is back to people who want to do CS instead of those people along with gold-rushers, certification mill graduates, and other such people. Big loss.

    It will be CS again one day. Google is starting to turn that tide with all the headway it's making.

    But the reason CS enrollment is down is the bubble burst and the gold-rushers are gone.

    • I agree, there are a certain number of, shall we say, shallow students, that were following the smell of money. When I applied to uni (god, 5 years ago now...), there was quite a stuck-up guy who said, and I remember it quite well "I chose Computer Systems Engineering rather than Computer Science because so many people are doing CS that I'll get more money this way".

      I didn't like him because he was annoying and felt very superior to everyone, but he can't have been an isolated incident of people following t
    • or the new hot stuff: biotech. Those are where the gold-rushers are going.

      What about nanotech? (I don't live in the US so I don't know what careers are there). Has it gained a space in colleges yet?
    • Re:That's Not Why (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cfulmer (3166)
      "Lawyering," as you put it, is not as much of a moneymaker as some people tend to think. True, many large law firms start in the $140K range, but they hire almost exclusively out of the top 15 or so law schools. Grab a look at the USNews & World report median starting salaries for the law schools -- the top-tier is flat, then they drop precipitously. There are scads of attorneys who start at $35,000 as public defenders or in some small law firm somewhere.
  • There's no shortage. Employers just aren't paying enough. If they pay more, supply will increase. No problem.

    I know some really good young people in the field, both with CS degrees from Stanford. One is running a hedge fund. One is going to work for a derivatives firm in NYC. And they're both making tons of money. When IBM is willing to match what they're making, they can get people like that.

    Most of the "get more women into the field" noise comes from employers wanting to cut costs by paying wome

  • ... and the proof is in open source projects like linux and FSF, which does not descriminate upon where you live.

    Why in the hell is there such outcry in outsourcing?

    Or are there really that many people who feel they need to keep others suppressed economonically?

    Not only is the outsource cry wrong but computer science has yet to get Abstraction Physics right.

    I bet you could overlay the reasons for the 300 year delay in converting from roman numeral mathmatics to the much easier and more powerful hindu-arabic
  • "Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S."

    As someone else pointed out the last time this came up as a topic, if demand for new compsci people was really so high, wages would go up. Otherwise, it looks more like an attempt to get more suckers to accept less pay, no overtime, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You have to pick a major and career. Do you pick the same major as the barrista who serves up your latte's and as the old guy working at Home Depot who got laid off because they didn't feel like providing any training and continuing to provide pension and medical benefits? Comp sci careers have no legs. You'd be better off picking a career with longer term prospects, like suicide bomber.
  • The discussion so far in this thread has done nothing but reinforce my impression that the inclusion of "Science" in "Computer Science" is about as accurate and meaningful as its inclusion in "Social Science".
    • by MrDomino (799876) <mrdomino@gmail.RABBITcom minus herbivore> on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:47PM (#15091503) Homepage

      As said by Edsger Dijkstra:

      We now know that electronic technology has no more to contribute to computing than the physical equipment. We now know that a programmable computer is no more and no less than an extremely handy device for realizing any conceivable mechanism without chaning a single wire, and that the core challenge for computing science is a conceptual one, viz. what (abstract) mechanisms we can conceive without getting lost in the complexities of our own making. But in the mean time, the harm was done: the topic became know as "computer science" - which, actually, is like referring to surgery as "knife science" - and it was firmly implanted in people's minds that computing science is about machines and their equipment. Quod non. (These days I cannot enter a doctor's, dentist's, or lawyer's office without being asked my advice about their office computer. When I then tell them that I am totally uninformed as to what hard- and software products the market currently offers, their faces invariably get very puzzled.)

      • awesome quote.

        "Computer science is as much about computers as astronomy is about telescopes."
        "The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim."
        -- Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (1930-2002)
    • Well, social sciences are siences. Computer science is math. There are people that don't classify math as a science, but there is no point on classifying social sciences as anything else.

    • I think you're oversimplifying. Computer Science is a field of academic study and a field of research (in universities and in companies). But the IT sector includes a lot of stuff that isn't computer science. Viz:-

      Science: Algorithm Analysis
      Not Science: Requirements capture, Most design work, Debugging

      Science: Big-O analysis, graph theory, computability evaluation
      Not Science: Distributed systems design, system architecture

      Science: Developing machine vision techniques
      Not science: Racing automated vehicle
  • by mrsam (12205) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:26PM (#15091413) Homepage
    I graduated with a Bachelor's in a double-major of Comp Sci, and Applied Math, 16 years ago, and have been working ever since.

    The barrier to entry, today, is unquestionably higher than it was years ago. If you're coming out of college today, expect to rough it out for 5-7 years. Then it gets easier. Much, much easier. If you know what you're doing, and you're good at it, outsourcing is not going to bother you.

    The key to success, in this racket, is to love programming. You should've known that this is what you want to do with your life -- computer programming -- even before you've gotten your high school diploma.

    If you're looking at a career in IT as a means of earning a living -- forget it. It's not going to work for you. You need to be naturally drawn to programming. If you're naturally driven to this (I sat down in front of an Apple II at age 12, and that's all she wrote), then it's only a matter of time before you claw your way to the top of the heap, and from that point on, it's easy going. Do not be concerned even if things look very bleak, the first 5-6 years out of college. Learn as much as you can, when you go home, spend all your free time "scratching an itch", and a few years down the road you will have the experience and knowledge to run rings around everyone else.

    I hear all the woes that people are saying, and just quietly smile, internally. I work in what's considered to be the toughest IT environments in the world: Wall Street. People get eaten alive, around here.

    Yet, I moved into my first house at age 21, paid off its 30-year mortgage eight years later, sold it, bought a second house two years ago, and I expect to pay off THAT mortgage next year. I get into the office around 9, and leave around 5. I'm not a wage slave, I don't work myself to death. I work as an independent consultant programmer, so if the company wants me to work 12 hours a day, they will have to pay for it. It's funny how the expectations of IT people to work 12 hours a day disappears, when the company has to pay for it (I'm under strict orders not to work more than 40 hours a week, anything more requires advance authorization).

    I remember hearing the headhunters' sob stories, as long as ten years ago, about all these Indian outsourcers taking a dozen H-1Bs, throwing them together into one, tingy, dingy house somewhere on Long Island, paying them $30/hr, and billing each one out for $40/hr; and undercutting everyone else.

    Strangely enough, I've somehow managed to avoid getting undercut all this time. Yes, I see a lot of Indians around here. But, they're all low-level admins, who really don't do anything that requires any kind of sophistication. If you enter the market today, you WILL have a lot of competition to deal with, at first, for entry-level/low level spots. Once you get past that, though, the landscape changes dramatically.

    I'm currently involved -- amongst other things -- with the management's hiring push. We're trying to hire as many high-level, experienced, developers as we can find. Wall Street has done very well in the last year, everyone is reporting record profits, everyone has hundred dollar bills coming out of their assholes, more cash than they know what to do with, so everyone's trying to hire as many good people as they can.

    Based on interviewing a whole bunch of people over the course of the last 3 month, I can say: if you have your shit together, and you know what you're doing, you won't have any problems.
  • The percentage of the total number of jobs in this space is quite small -- less than 5%.

    Today. This is because we are still learning how to properly train utilize offshore resources. Distributed software development is in its infancy. As methodolgies mature this percentage will grow. If I have a smart and passionate student to guide I would guide them clear of the software development career path. It pays good (but not great) today, but its future is uncertain.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Young folk !!
    Do not believe those business types !!!
    They LIE LIE LIE !!

    I'm NOT amused by those leeches ( business types)
    who claim that more CS grads are needed. I keep
    that in mind when I interview, but I won't say anything...
    neither will anyone I know.

    The IBM person didn't mention that the industry is
    a double whammy for no jobs: outsourcing as well
    as IMMIGRATION !!

    And 3rdly, lets not forget age discrimination.
    There's a lot of those looking for work, but industry
    has it's sites set for certain "Classes" of
    • university education != vocational training
    • IT jobs != service industry jobs
    • economies of scale != global economy
    • The US government has no regulation or process for the reporting on or the tracking of jobs being outsourced to foreign countries. Any number or fact provided by anyone is an uneducated guess. Moreover, the number reported will most likely be favorable to whatever position the reporting entity supports.
    • If you want to make a shitload of money in the next 5 to 10 years get your ass to southeast
  • by br00tus (528477) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:44PM (#15091496)
    It doesn't even require a moment of thinking to realize an article on IBM.com about this sort of thing is propaganda. What is the article trying to do? Get us to spend tens of thousands of dollars, at our own expense, to pay for skill training so we can then go see if a corporation like IBM wants to employ as as a wage earner on an "at-will" basis. It tells us not to worry about the jobs being out-sourced.

    Then it tells us how many new jobs are being created in this field. This is an old trick. I have a cartoon that is a century old of Mr. Block (a recurring character who is basically a rube) travels out west because of newspaper ads about how many jobs are out there and how good they are - he travels thousands of miles and finds out that there are only a few jobs and hundreds of people like him lured in by the ads. Beyond this the job is not as good as promised by the ad - once the bosses have all these suckers competing for a few jobs, they can pay less, increase the hours and have better working conditions. So this sort of nonsense has been going on for a long time.

    As other people pointed out, this article does not talk about H1-Bs. IBM is part of the ITAA [itaa.org] which is trying to push the H1-B cap up. They spend tons of money in Washington DC and what tchnical professional organizations are spreading money around counetring that? The IEEE? The IEEE gets a great deal of its money from the same corporations funding this, menaing the IEEE is not a real professional organization like the AMA, ABA and so forth. You can read more about how the IEEE is controlled by these companies here [slashdot.org].

    Does any of this set off bullshit detectors? "Also, a lot of students don't understand the flexibility they can have. You can travel the globe; you have flexibility whether working from an office, from home, full-time, part-time." I am a UNIX sysadmin. I can work from home, part-time? Give me a break, I can do neither. I would love to have a "part-time" UNIX sysadmin job in the sense of only working 40 hours a week. And I can do this for 20 hours a week supposedly? And what's this nonsense about working from home? If I never had to go into the office, I never would. This is a lot of BS, I don't even know why this was posted. Of course, a few of these jobs exist, and we can get away with working from home once in a while, but 99% of jobs be it sysadmins, programmers, DBAs or network admins are at the office and full time, meaning over 40 hours a week.

    Another thing is the article does mention "voluntary" attrition being a reason for the lack of people. But of course it never says why people are leaving. They are leaving because they are not getting paid enough to work the hours they do, and having to put up with the BS they have to.

    As far as saying there are X many jobs out there, it is really meaningless. Let me create 10 million new jobs right here - I have 10 million openings for C/C++/Java gods, DBAs and sysadmins. The pay is a dollar a week and you have to do a lot of shit. There, I just created 10 million new jobs. If you believe in capitalism and neoclassical economics, and obviously these people do, then supply should always equal demand, if you have X many new jobs that are so great in terms of pay etc., then the market will automatically meet them. This is what is believed from Keynes to Milton Friedman, if you don't believe this you are probably carrying a copy of Marx's Das Kapital. So the idea that there can be a job shortfall is either 1) coming from someone who believes Marx is right and Keynes and Milton Friedman are wrong or 2) someone who is talking out of their ass and just wants people to pay tens of thousands out of their own pocket for an education, so that there will be one more person competing for an IT job, so that the company can then make people work more hours while paying them less money.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @01:51PM (#15091522)
    I would advise anyone who is not brilliant at development to seek another path.

    Consider it if you are really love coding, and are extremely good, and confident enough in your skills to job jump, or set up your own consulting buisness etc. Unless this is true. Run, don't walk to another faculty.

    Here is the reality of working as a developer in a big corporations. Crushing deathmarch deadlines. Tons of off hours solo work, and continual outsourcing. So much process overhead that it will suck any of the joy out of design/coding that ever existed for you. A process that is now vain as there exists a multi-million LOC monstrosity that is always ready to collapse.

    Your interactions will consist mainly of mind dulling staff meetings, early morning, barely intelligible conference calls to far off lands attempting to keep outsource staff up to speed (good luck with that) while the real work will be long solo hours staring at a machine (evenings and weekends if need be).

    I have always considered myself pretty good, but not the best. The only ones who really get much out of this job are the best.

    I could go on, but hey it is a beautiful sunny Saturday and I have to go into work.

    • Your interactions will consist mainly of mind dulling staff meetings, early morning, barely intelligible conference calls to far off lands attempting to keep outsource staff up to speed (good luck with that) while the real work will be long solo hours staring at a machine (evenings and weekends if need be).

      What office job doesn't have this kind of description?
    • by cerberusss (660701) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @02:50PM (#15091768) Homepage Journal
      Why the flying fuck did you allow the Man to kill your working pleasure?

      Let me describe my work:

      • Fun projects, combining software and hardware which get sent off on a balloon 40km into the atmosphere
      • Intelligent colleagues, telling how they built a 50 watt long-wave radio transmitter
      • A Linux workstation with friendly sysops
      • A nice manager with which I talk about his sailing ship

      You've become a mindless work drone. And the most stupid thing is, YOU DID IT TO YOURSELF.

  • but i read it as "blah blah blah, shortage, blah blah blah, more worker visas because of the shortage, blah blah blah, don't be surprised at more outsourcing because of the shortage, blah blah blah".
  • We do have too many CS majors. No, it's not that there are more graduates than jobs, quite to the contrary. The real problem is that many people major in CS who have no business majoring in CS--they lack the skills, personality, and aptitude. That's why the US has had to attract tens of thousands of foreign CS students over the last several decades.
  • by gubachwa (716303) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @02:17PM (#15091630)
    I have a friend who works there. She's been told by various managers:

    • Anyone can code. What sets you apart is the "other" stuff you do. By "other" stuff, they mean giving presentations, writing articles, and the biggest BS line: "exhibiting leadership skills". Basically, they want you to be in marketing even though that's not in your job description, because at IBM "everyone sells."
    • Tasks that involve digging into the code and knowing it at an intimate level can only be given to new graduates and new hires. The employees that have been around for longer, if they're worth anything, are busy doing the "other" stuff (see previous point.)
    • Developers who know a system inside and out "have little value" to the company.

    What the oh-so-clever managers and execs at IBM fail to realize is that if everyone's busy selling, then developing the product becomes a lower-priority item and you end up with crap products. With a few notable exceptions (e.g., the Eclipse core), this is why IBM has such a bad reputation for producing poor-quality software.

    And now they post this article that makes it sound like they actually want to hire real developers? Whatever. These comments said it best: "The real title should be:" [slashdot.org], and "And we believe an article from IBM?" [slashdot.org].

  • Speaking as a software engineer who understands supply and demand, I would say on no acocunt should anyone embark on a career in software.
  • one is a myth, believed by parents, students, and high school guidance counselors, that computer science and engineering jobs are all being outsourced to China and India. This is not true.

    Hogwash! Asian "technology centers" for the big companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle are growing while their US counterparts are stagant or shrinking. My brother works for HP, and his job is now to train cheaper asians how to do his and his coworker's jobs.

    According to a government study, the voluntary attriti
  • One problem I have experienced with my CS degree, taken so many years ago, is that it is now utterly irrelevant. The technology and methods we were taught were old and musty then, now 25 years later, they are laughable. Had I done a Romano-greek Art degree, it would be of more benefit today. It's the problem of CS as a Degree. It should not be a degree, it should be a diploma from a technical school. It should have some structure to it that you need to go back to school every 10 years or so to brush up on a
  • From TFA: Some of the more traditional IT positions -- application maintenance, transcription services, base application development -- may be outsourced for a number of reasons, principally cost and availability of workers.

    Ok Gina, let's talk the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition as it applies to building software. Dave Thomas of Pragmatic Programmer fame has a nice article here [pragprog.com] discussing why this model describes how people learn to build software. Now answer me this: when things like "application ma

  • by Skapare (16644) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @03:17PM (#15091882) Homepage

    There are a couple of reasons: one is a myth, believed by parents, students, and high school guidance counselors, that computer science and engineering jobs are all being outsourced to China and India. This is not true. The percentage of the total number of jobs in this space is quite small -- less than 5%.

    Notice how the wording of this is meant to distort and twist perceptions. Hardly anyone thinks that all science and engineering jobs are being outsourced to China and India. By saying it that way, however, they are hoping to recruit people to argue with those who do believe (and rightly so) that many jobs are being outsourced there.

    Also notice how they leave out "insourcing" of workers on H-1B non-resident visas. The latter is actually more of an issue for a few reasons. Among them is that many jobs simply cannot be moved to a remote location. Another reason is that this makes for an effective slave labor force right here because such a worker cannot easily move to a new job, and if they complain about the working conditions and hours, and get fired, they can't just go get another job, they usually have to return to their home country.

    All of this, including the industry push to flood the market with even more CS, engineering, and science graduates, is all part of the scheme to drive pay levels down, cut benefits, and limit career paths to just 10 or so years. If you think business has any other motive besides the acquisition of profits, then you absolutely do not understand how business functions.

    And I'm not so sure about this 5% figure. I've heard a number of figures from a number of sources, ranging from 3% to 25%. I'm more inclined to believe it is somewhere around 8% to 10% based on empirical observations of numbers of people out of work. More likely they conveniently include lots of lesser-tech jobs when they work up those figures, while sending the higher-tech jobs overseas.

    According to a government study, the voluntary attrition in the U.S. has outpaced the number of outsourced jobs to emerging nations. Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S.

    The government studies lots of things and tends to get things wrong a lot. The only voluntary attrition that exists here is due to declining working conditions, such as bad working environments, fewer benefits, and lower pay. And of course, PHBs.

    For every high-tech job outsourced, some number of low-tech jobs probably are created. I doubt it is nine; probably closer to three. These would be low-tech jobs like sales, marketing, and secretarial. If any of those jobs created in US really are high-tech, they will be trying to hire H-1B's in them.

    The government also has incomplete figures on people out of work. When someone who had a high-tech job loses it, and applies for unemployment benefits, then they get counted. But when the benefits run out, they aren't counted anymore. And if they had a substantial savings, they might not apply for unemployment benefits, or might not even qualify in some cases ... and won't be counted. Those that do find work doing something else like delivering pizza will then no longer be counted as unemployed (the government has no classification of underemployed).

    While it is true that there are untapped resources of smart people who can do high-tech work all over the world, and it is a good thing to get them working for you, it is clear that US businesses are using this combined with other practices more for driving down pay and benefits while still having a base of smart people.

    All that said, I do need to point out that US business, as well as European businesses and probably even Japanese businesses, are at a competitive disadvantage in the emerging world market due to the higher living costs at home. Costs have to be cut to survive. And even if we stopped all foreign companies from selling in

  • by baggins2002 (654972) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @03:37PM (#15091960) Journal
    Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S.
    Yeah, but those jobs are being created at WalMart and Burger King
  • by Atmchicago (555403) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @04:26PM (#15092134) Homepage

    The key these days is that there are plenty of people who can do computer science, but far fewer who can do computer science and something else. This means that computer science is extremely comptetitive, but if you also are good at biology, or chemistry, or economics, etc., that you can use your computer science skills and apply them to your other field. There are far fewer biologists who can code, so if you can do both then you can get the best of both worlds.

    Computers are tools, and a tool needs an application. If you can apply it directly yourself, then you can do just fine. If you only know how to code, then you will find yourself with lots of other people in your shoes, and that's where it gets tough to get a job

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @04:35PM (#15092161)
    As far as I can tell, the reason behind all these bullsh!t articles is to make sure there will never again be a shortage of IT slave labor.

    Forget the article, look at the real world.

    A BSCS is as difficult to get as an engineering degree, but as useless as Liberal Arts degree. Look at the job boards, degrees are rarely listed as requirements for software development jobs, and when they are they say "BSCS or equivelent."

    If I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, I am *way* ahead of any non-degreed person who wants to work as a Chemical Engineer. The same can not be said for a degree in Comp Sci.

    The newspapers and job boards are filled with ads for nurses. The ads often offer $15K sign on bonuses. All they ask is that you be an licensed nurse. How many honest ads are there, offering $15K sign on bonuses for software developers - right out of collede? The real evidence of supply v demand is staring you in the face. Most developer jobs require five years experience in a long list of technologies - and ever job has a different technologies list.

    Please don't mis-understand. I am not suggesting that nurses are not worth it, nor am I suggesting that you become a nurse. My point is that real world data should out-weight these bogus self-serving articles.

  • Same old story (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @04:48PM (#15092223)
    So a corporation that depends on computer science graduates for its business wants to keep their labor costs down in the future by suckering young people into a career that will probably be over by the time they are 50.

    The shortage of technical talent in the US has been proclaimed by industry continuously since the 1950's but it has never been true.

    Given the absurd compensation given CEOs in the US, perhaps IBM should encourage more business school graduates to try to flood the market with cheap management labor.
  • by ishmalius (153450) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @06:10PM (#15092561)
    Many people in both this minor boom, and the last dot-com boom, received poor CS educations because their efforts were targeted solely toward getting a job right out of school. They ignored the true reason for attending a school of higher education. How many people in the late 90's and early 00's learned only Java, because that was what employers wanted at the time? Now those tightly focused individuals are in danger of being prematurely obsolete.

    The best reason to get a good education is the more Socratic one: to become a better person. A complete, well-rounded curriculum might seem wasteful to the "just enough to get a job" crowd, but it results in a person who is generally more competent for life ahead. And as for Computer Science, learn more of the How and Why, and less of the What. That person might be less attuned for a given employer. But that person will have a much wider world of employment ahead in general, and will be more recession-proof in the end.

  • by jay2003 (668095) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @08:23PM (#15093006)

    This a minority view point but I think one of the reasons for for declining enrollment in computer science and engineering in general is that these fields pay too little. Yes, there are million statistics that say average salaries are high for CS grads. However, if you compare the top 10% of computer scientists (in terms of skill and effectiveness) vs the top 10% of investment managers and then look at the their pay, you'll see radical difference. A really taltented and well paid computer scienceist might make a 180K a year. A talented investment manager is going to be paid in the millions. Really talnented doctors aren't as well comp'ed as investment managers but make much more than computer scienctists. Same for lawyers.

    Sure, you can gamble on stock options but its a gamble. This is not field where talent alone gives so any certainty of retiring rich. Most of really smart CS people I know are leaving the field and getting MBAs.

  • 1991 Jobs in Texas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skapare (16644) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @12:32AM (#15093674) Homepage

    I just checked computerjobs.com [computerjobs.com] and found there are currently 1991 jobs in Texas [computerjobs.com]. I remember when that number was as high as 23,000 before the economy nose dived. Whether it is, or is not, back in other areas, it most definitely is nowhere near back in IT hiring.

Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?

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