Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States IT

How to Keep America Competitive 652

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the going-where-the-money-is dept.
pkbarbiedoll writes to tell us that in a recent Washington Post article, Bill Gates takes another look at the current state of affairs in computer science and education. According to Gates: "This issue has reached a crisis point. Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually. But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees. The United States provides 65,000 temporary H-1B visas each year to make up this shortfall — not nearly enough to fill open technical positions. Permanent residency regulations compound this problem. Temporary employees wait five years or longer for a green card. During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success and overall economic growth."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How to Keep America Competitive

Comments Filter:
  • Overworked? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wframe9109 (899486) * <bowker.x@gmail.com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:04PM (#18154594)
    I went to college under the impression that I would graduate with a degree in Computer Science.

    In the third lecture of the intro course, the teacher discussed spending all night coding for labs and so forth, and mentioned that it would prepare us for real life.

    After a quick google session, I never went to the class again.

    I'm sure there are places where you aren't forced to stay late or bring your work home with you... But the trend of overworking in real life occupations CS degrees can lead to is very damaging to interest in this degree.

    If I wanted to concentrate on a job over things like family and a social life, I would go to med school.

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:07PM (#18154636)
      Some people prefer to work really late in "deep hack mode".

      Others prefer 8-5 job and forget about the work when you leave.

      It all depends upon your personality and the requirements of the job. And IF WHAT THE ARTICLE SAYS IS CORRECT finding a job more in line with your personality should be easy.

      If what the article says is correct.
      • Au contraire (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:41PM (#18155260) Homepage Journal
        And IF WHAT THE ARTICLE SAYS IS CORRECT finding a job more in line with your personality should be easy.

        I read it differently. Bill Gates wants more H1-B workers which he can, unofficially, work at those kind of hours. That creates a watermark in the marketplace, against which non-H1B workers need to compete for jobs. I bet if Microsoft improved working conditions and company policies (both stemming from the same dysfunctional root, most likely) they'd have plenty of folks beating a path to their door.

        Folks I've known who figured Microsoft would be the right place to work straight out of college have all "gotten the hell out" after a year or two. And it's not all about the hours - Apple has a much lower turnover rate and a lower percentage of H1-B's despite inhuman hour requirements.

        Part of it is cultural - the 80-hour salaried job at Microsoft might be nirvana to a particular H1-B workers, but unacceptable to a well-educated American. Not to mention a Frenchman.
        • Re:Au contraire (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gfxguy (98788) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:09PM (#18155732)
          Yes - I've pointed out in another post. The same newspaper has an editorial only less than a week ago that says in 2004 the U.S. produced over 57,000 C.S. graduates. Coupled with his 65,000 H-1B visas, if his 100,000 new jobs a year is accurate, there's a 22k surplus.
          • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:25PM (#18155976) Homepage Journal
            Yes - I've pointed out in another post. The same newspaper has an editorial only less than a week ago that says in 2004 the U.S. produced over 57,000 C.S. graduates. Coupled with his 65,000 H-1B visas, if his 100,000 new jobs a year is accurate, there's a 22k surplus.

            That's downright funny- guess what we really need is a basic arithmetic requirement for journalists.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jadavis (473492)
              what we really need is a basic arithmetic requirement for journalists.

              And economics. There aren't "100,000 jobs" that "need to be filled". The job market is controlled by supply and demand, pure and simple. If you make a better offer (money, environment, hours) you will attract the people you need. If you can't make a better offer, well, gee, looks like you didn't "need" that employee after all!

              I am not in any way saying that it's a good or a bad policy to encourage foreign labor and/or immigration, that's
        • Re:Au contraire (Score:5, Informative)

          by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:14PM (#18155802) Homepage Journal
          I work at Microsoft.

          I know very few 80hr/week employees. As in, i can't think of any right now.

          Microsoft doesn't have a problem finding applicants. Microsoft has a problem finding _qualified_ applicants. I've done a bunch of interviews. We interview _way_ more people than we hire. And I don't even want to think about the people that _don't_ make it to me and don't even pass the HR and phone-screening stages of the process.

          We want good people no matter where they come from. There is no particular focus on H1-B workers. Given the extra paperwork and overhead involved, and the legal restriction that they get the same pay, etc etc, don't you think we'd rather not deal with the extra hassle?
          • Re:Au contraire (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:43PM (#18156306) Homepage Journal
            I know very few 80hr/week employees. As in, i can't think of any right now.

            OK, great, what's a good average number for a leaf node employee with a product behind schedule?

            Microsoft has a problem finding _qualified_ applicants...don't you think we'd rather not deal with the extra hassle?

            So one of three things has to be true:
            • There aren't any qualified potential US applicants
            • Qualified potential US applicants by and large don't want to work at Microsoft
            • Microsoft isn't paying enough to attract qualified US applicants
            That last one is really redundant with the second, just being the economic facet of the second case. If the first one were true Microsoft would be the only successful software company in the US. It's not, leaving basically the second option by process of elimination. So, that's where the company should focus its efforts. H1-B is probably easier/cheaper in the long run, even if it makes your life difficult, but whatever you can do to improve the attractiveness of Microsoft is going to be best for everybody. Given that you're here on Slashdot, I'd say you're probably a good candidate to be a force for betterment.
            • Re:Au contraire (Score:5, Interesting)

              by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:34PM (#18157196) Homepage Journal

              I know very few 80hr/week employees. As in, i can't think of any right now.

              OK, great, what's a good average number for a leaf node employee with a product behind schedule?


              Hard to day. When i was working in devdiv, most days i got in between 9 and 10, and left around 7. When it was crunch time to get VS.NET (7.0) out the door, for a while there it was team-dinnners every nite, and people would be at work until 8 or 9. Of course, nobody got to work before 9. In redmond, at 7:59am, the main doors to buildings are still locked.

              Now that I am on a different campus (in Fargo), the local culture is much different. At 8:30 the parking lot is full and at 6 its empty. Leaving the Redmond main campus at 6pm was suicide because the traffic was so outrageous. You could leave at 5 or at 6:45 and get home at the same time.

              - Qualified potential US applicants by and large don't want to work at Microsoft
              - Microsoft isn't paying enough to attract qualified US applicants


              Yeah, one or both is likely. MS isn't the darling of the tech world it once was; you're no longer a millionaire after 7 years. The compensation structure has chnaged a few times since 2000 when people were leaving MS in droves to do startups. Many people think we made some poor hiring decisions around that time frame (after all, _I_ was hired, and my main motivation for interviewing was to get a free trip to Seattle and to mouth-off about how awesome linux was to a bunch of MSFT people :)

              MSFT doesn't aim to be the pay-leader, so people purely motivated by that will probably look elsewhere.

              That said, I think many tech companies have open positions and describe having difficulty filling them. Does the entire sector, as a whole, not pay enough? Are there people out there that are not working for anyone, rather than work for what they deem to be too little? Said another way, if you see that across the board, tech companies have open heads, it's hard to suggest that it is purely a Microsoft problem related to salary or other undesirability. Doesn't Google have difficulty hiring people? Apple?

              • Re:Au contraire (Score:5, Insightful)

                by yakovlev (210738) on Monday February 26, 2007 @04:20PM (#18157824) Homepage

                - Qualified potential US applicants by and large don't want to work at Microsoft
                - Microsoft isn't paying enough to attract qualified US applicants

                Yeah, one or both is likely. MS isn't the darling of the tech world it once was; you're no longer a millionaire after 7 years. The compensation structure has chnaged a few times since 2000 when people were leaving MS in droves to do startups. Many people think we made some poor hiring decisions around that time frame (after all, _I_ was hired, and my main motivation for interviewing was to get a free trip to Seattle and to mouth-off about how awesome linux was to a bunch of MSFT people :)

                MSFT doesn't aim to be the pay-leader, so people purely motivated by that will probably look elsewhere.

                That said, I think many tech companies have open positions and describe having difficulty filling them. Does the entire sector, as a whole, not pay enough? Are there people out there that are not working for anyone, rather than work for what they deem to be too little? Said another way, if you see that across the board, tech companies have open heads, it's hard to suggest that it is purely a Microsoft problem related to salary or other undesirability. Doesn't Google have difficulty hiring people? Apple?

                Yes, if a given industry is having trouble finding qualified applicants, then it isn't paying enough for qualified labor. The obvious way to show this is that if CS graduates were paid a million dollars per year starting out, people would be leaving other careers in droves to pursue a career in computer science. This is freshman economics at work. Now, clearly technology companies can't afford that kind of pay, but that just means that employers have trouble finding qualified applicants at a price they're willing to pay. Freshman economics says "tough noogies, you can't have more at the current price than the quantity supplied at the current price." That's how free markets work. The H1-B program is about changing the rules by finding an additional supplier of labor who is willing to produce more at the current price. The overall result of adding this new supplier will be to drive prices down and quantities up, at the expense of existing workers. Moving jobs overseas does the same thing economically as raising the H1-B cap, however the H1-B changes may come more slowly.

                Now, is free trade in the labor market good for the global economy? Most economic models say yes. Is it good for the US economy? The answer is less clear, though the answer leans towards it being good for the US economy. Is it good for technology workers? Probably not, as with new competition they will have to accept lower wages.

                So, don't think for a minute that there is a "labor shortage" in IT. The so-called labor shortage is just a result of normal supply and demand. Expanding the H1-B program should be viewed as what it is, and attempt to apply free trade to the IT labor market, with the result being new low-cost overseas competition for US technology jobs. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your perspective, but adding H1-B workers is going to have a serious effect on US IT workers.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by HiThere (15173)
                That said, I think many tech companies have open positions and describe having difficulty filling them. Does the entire sector, as a whole, not pay enough? Are there people out there that are not working for anyone, rather than work for what they deem to be too little? Said another way, if you see that across the board, tech companies have open heads, it's hard to suggest that it is purely a Microsoft problem related to salary or other undesirability. Doesn't Google have difficulty hiring people? Apple?

                I'm
          • Re:Au contraire (Score:4, Insightful)

            by erc (38443) <erc AT pobox DOT com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:53PM (#18156476) Homepage
            Microsoft has a problem finding _qualified_ applicants.

            Define "qualified". I've been turned down for jobs because I didn't have experience with a particular version of a software product. I had extensive experience with version X, but not with version Y. "But the differences between version X and version Y are pretty small, especially for what you're doing!" Sorry - that was the artifical bar.

            For others it's a particular language - Perl or PHP or C++, for example, instead of focusing on the thought process and problem-solving skillset. The tool itself is much less significant than the business or technical problem to be solved. I'd rather have a rational, logical thinker that knew C that I could get up to speed in a C++ environment (in most cases, C will do the job just fine) than someone who was an expert at C++ but had no rational problem-solving skills. But most hiring managers, especially in HR (where they have no clue as to technical ability anyway) just screen for buzzwords anyway. Stupid, but it is what it is, I suppose. That's why the US (which is Microsoft-centric in the extreme) trails most of the rest of the world in technology.
        • Re:Au contraire (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:26PM (#18155996)
          I have worked for Microsoft in the past, though only as a summer intern, and although my own experience of the culture at Redmond is somewhat limited I will say that I got the impression that Microsoft is a tough, but fair place to work. The expectations are high and the competition can be intense, but the pay and benefits were very competitive and the work keeps your skills sharp. I will also say that some of the smartest people I have ever met in the workplace worked at Microsoft. The 80 hour mythical work week at Microsoft is mostly bogus too. If you meet your project deadlines and plan your time well then you can be in at eight and out at five most of the time. Of course there is always crunch time, but realistically you will get some of that no matter where you work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Skreems (598317)
      I don't know who you talked to, but that doesn't seem like a very fact-based view of the computer science field to me. But hey, what do I know? I just work in it...
    • Re:Overworked? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by koreth (409849) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:35PM (#18155132)
      Your professor misled you. Yeah, sure, sometimes I'm up past midnight pounding out code.

      But then the next day I get to sleep in until noon if I want.

      "How late you stay up working" is only half the picture -- there's the unspoken assumption that you arrive in the office at the same time as everyone else, which is absolutely not necessarily the case. Every single programming job I've had (I've been in the industry for close to 20 years, worked at a couple big companies and a bunch of small ones) has had flexible schedules and sane comp time policies. And this is including a couple dot-com-boom startups. Now, maybe it's different if you're at a non-tech company, but the point is there are tons of jobs out there that don't require you to spend every waking hour working.

      You can burn yourself out at any job. Burnout is 90% about you and only 10% about your employer, in my experience. And the trend toward longer hours is an American disease, not a CS one; you'll probably run into it no matter what industry you enter. (That's assuming you're in the US, which of course I don't actually know, so bad me if you're not.)

    • by queenb**ch (446380) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:43PM (#18155296) Homepage Journal
      What do we need to do in order to produce more IT professionals? Take a look at the list below for a few idea.

      Here's my solution:

      1) Poll all current welfare and permanent disability recipients. See how many are interested and capable of learning to perform IT work.
      2) Instead of continuing to pump money into a system that only perpetuates poverty, educate the people who are both interested and capable. Get them a CNA or MCSE and help them get their first job. After the first paycheck, government assistance ends since at that point you should be a) getting paid and b) have health coverage.
      3) Increase funding for science and math teachers from elementary school to high school. We can use the money that we're saving from the public assistance programs to fund this.
      4) Increase funding for music and art. While most people don't realize this, there is a strong connection between math and music as well as science and art in the human brain. Researchers are still trying to work out exactly what it is, but studies show that there is definitely a link for most people.
      5) Raise instead of lower the requirements in order to graduate high school. One of my friends has a daughter who just started high school this year. The only math requirements for her to graduate are two semesters of math. What this means is that they're only required to take and pass Pre-Algebra I & II. Since most everyone on here are IT pros of some kind, I'm sure you're aware that this doesn't cut it for college. Algebra I & II, Geometry, and Trig should be the minimum requirements, IMHO.
      6) As a corollary to #5, we need to raise the requirements for science as well. Her school district only requires two semesters of science. What this really means is that you take a semester of earth science and you take health class. IMHO, you should take Biology I & II, Chemestry I & II, Anatomy & Physiology, and Physics.
      7) They do require 8 semesters of English, however, I can tell you that what passes for papers in many of these classes is laughable. I have a friend who teaches freshman & sophomore composition at a local university. The level of literacy among these kids is...horrific. I've helped her grade papers and seen things like an entire 3 page paper that was a single run on sentence. These kids do not know the difference between things like "to", "too", and "two". I cannot count the number of times I've seen someone write something like "I'm going two the store." "There", "their", and "they're" is another one that they don't seem to be aware of. Then there are the kids that write papers like they send IM and text messages, "UR 4 real?"
      8) Ditch "no child left behind" philosophy. This blatantly ignores the fact that some of the kids *need* to be left behind. If they cannot keep pace in a regular classroom, they need to be sent to remedial classes until they are on a par with their peers. Keeping them in the regular classrooms has a negative effect on the kids who do their work and keep up. All this has done is resulted in a dumbing down of the entire curriculum. Here in Dallas, the school district recently published an article proclaiming their pride in the fact that only 25% of the graduates last year were functionally illiterate. They're proud of this figure because it's down from 33% last year. That means 1 in 4 high school graduates cannot read and write well enough to fill out a job application at Wal-mart. They cannot add and subtract well enough to make change for a dollar. That is absolutely shameful and how anyone in their right mind can take pride in that is beyond me.

      2 cents,

      QueenB.
      • by way2trivial (601132) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:21PM (#18155892) Homepage Journal
        the basic problem with your points are the assumption that we MUST churn out more IT, to the detriment of all other employment fields.

        1- and if the answer is none?
        2- how many people recieved health insurance with the first paycheck? often there is a 30-90-180days before health insurance starts.
        3- there is no savings at point of beginning.... it is YEARS down the line if it works. Investment cannot come from savings which follow years later.
        4- perhaps the correlation is not, the existance of music and art makes people math smart, but rather, math smart people are also people who appreciate music and art.
        this is akin to saying, people who know how to swim are wet.. so throw a non-swimmer in a pool and they will/can swim..
        5- how the hell do you do that with the NCLB? seriously, one of the reason some other countries do so very well on standardized testing, is that they DROP underperforming students from educational programs, leaving the mid to reasonably behind for testing and highschool.. they leave children out.... some kids are that stupid.
        6- physics? to graduate from highschool everyone should have a semester of chem II and physics? it's not practical.. not everyone needs these classes.
        7- here I'll agree with you. The most important argument and flaw in the system I see.
        8- here I'll agree with you almost wholeheartedly.. it's not a philosphy, it's an unfunded federal mandate.. a major distinction. To keep getting the federal dollars for school systems, schools must get 100% of their kids in line, and to do so- they get no additional money where needed- they just lose funding &control in some cases, of their own educational program.. The result has not been dumbing down of an entire curriculum, it's been the refocusing of the entire curriculum to being 'program the kids to pass the standardized test'

        First step is, balancing the need of more IT professionals vs. other professions.

        I think you'd do a lot better training welfare recipients/disabled types in medical technician training.
        IT training requires a lot more mental capacity & attitude than some people have.
        blood draw tech, orderlies, nurses assistants, dental assistants, etc.. a slot where life saving is not key...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        3) Increase funding for science and math teachers from elementary school to high school. We can use the money that we're saving from the public assistance programs to fund this.

        There are two problems with the teaching of math and science in school today.

        One is that most teachers understand neither. They learned to do math the same way we are teaching it - by rote. This leaves them with no actual understanding of math, just a larger arsenal of mathematical tools to apply to problems. It's not really mathem

      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:57PM (#18157512) Journal
        Additionally, managers in silicon valley have a track record of strong bias in favor of graduates from a single-digit list of colleges, and of Caucasian, Oriental, or Indian descent males.

        (The university business is particularly blecherous since the actual pioneers of the information age were almost entirely NOT ivy-leaguers, and had more than a sprinkling of non wasp-males among their number.)

        If you include women, blacks, American Indians, Hispanic-descent citizens, various "halfbreeds", and graduates of other fine universities (especially state universities) - rather than reserving them to support (or janitorial) positions, there is no shortage whatsoever.

        But there's another part of this: You have to PAY them on the basis of performance, respect their opinions, and avoid filing the serial numbers off their ideas and crediting them to the stars from that tiny pool of ivy-league whites and orientals. If you hire them and then systematically abuse them and pay them 2/3 of what you pay the in crowd, they'll burn out and drop out.

        (I watched this happen to an exceptional talent. Woman. Part Amerind. State universities. IQ so high a psych professor had to roll a special test to estimate it. Four degrees, one advanced and from a top U, in diverse subjects (computer science among them). Sharp as a tack and total grasp of the subtleties of software engineering. Yet administrators systematically ignored or rejected her ideas or credited her colleagues for them when they were finally accepted. Last straw was in a windows application development shop when she found out the clueless-about-Windows-programs unix people she was teaching were paid more than half again what she got. She left the field.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lord Ender (156273)

        5) Raise instead of lower the requirements in order to graduate high school. One of my friends has a daughter who just started high school this year. The only math requirements for her to graduate are two semesters of math. What this means is that they're only required to take and pass Pre-Algebra I & II. Since most everyone on here are IT pros of some kind, I'm sure you're aware that this doesn't cut it for college. Algebra I & II, Geometry, and Trig should be the minimum requirements, IMHO.

        There i

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ghoul (157158)
        In India to graduate high school you have to take 2 national level standardised exams - One after class 10 and one after class 12. Till Class 10 you have 10 subjects the whole year- English, Hindi, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math, History, Geography, Civics, Economics and a third language (my school had the choice of Sanskrit and French - I took Sanskrit) as well as compulsory Music, Art, Yoga and Physical Ed classes (mostly playing soccer, basketball or tennis recreationally no organized sports). After g
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StarvingSE (875139)
      I have many friends, myself included, who are working and programming in the IT industry, and no one every puts in "all nighters" for work. Yes, we did in college in order to get those huge programming assignments done, but those were fun. Your group together in the lab hacking away, eating pizza and BSing never seemed like work to me. But I enjoy my work and I enjoy programming. I can see how this wouldn't be fun to someone who is just doing a computer science degree because they heard "you can earn a
    • by reporter (666905) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:00PM (#18155590) Homepage
      A shortage of labor is a normal part of a free market. So is a surplus. Shortages and surpluses are powerful economic forces that correct the underpricing and overpricing, respectively, of labor.

      There is no need for the government to intervene by importing desperate labor from either India via the H-1B visa or Mexico via an open-border policy. The free market, by itself and without government intervention, will fix the shortage or surplus. Wages rise, and the shortage disappears. Wages fall, and layoffs occur -- thus fixing the surplus.

      Washington does not intervene to fix the labor surplus (which is leading to massive layoffs) in Detroit. Why should Washington intervene to fix a labor shortage?

      If Microsoft paid the market wage for computer programmers, then plenty of programmers with the "right" skills would apply for Microsoft jobs. The problem is that Microsoft refuses to pay the market wage. The market wage is not what Microsoft management considers to be the right wage. The market wage (and the market working conditions) is the wage (and quality of working conditions) at which the supply of labor meets the demand for that labor. The market wage is the intersection point of the labor-demand curve and the labor-supply curve.

      The bottom line is that Microsoft (and many other American companies) refuse to pay the market wage. So, they want government to intervene in the free market so that Microsoft can pay below-market-wage salaries.

  • Ha ha (Score:5, Funny)

    by tkrotchko (124118) * on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:05PM (#18154604) Homepage
    ...and Microsoft will do anything to solve this "crisis" except spend money on it.

    That's the government's job! (i.e. yours and mine) ...and meanwhile keep those cheap programmers coming from overseas, otherwise, where will the next version of Windows come from?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      ...and Microsoft will do anything to solve this "crisis" except spend money on it.
      Ever heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? http://www.gatesfoundation.org/default [gatesfoundation.org]

      Addressing educational inequities, especially in the United States, is exactly what they do.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Addressing educational inequities, especially in the United States, is exactly what they do.

        I thought investing in irresponsible companies, contributing to giving people respiratory failure is what they do.

      • Re:Ha ha (Score:4, Informative)

        by MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) <dylan AT dylanbrams DOT com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:24PM (#18154940) Homepage Journal
        What does that have to do with Microsoft? And how is that contributing to the problem Bill is whining about? I seem to remember a lawsuit a few years back attacking Microsoft over calling people who weren't engineers engineers. I seem to remember people being encouraged to not finish their CS degree so MS didn't have to pay them as much in the long run. I seem to remember twenty years of vicious market monopoly abuse. Two or three years of giving a little bit back doesn't make up for being a robber baron for twenty. In fact, I don't know if a hundred will, the way the foundation manages itself.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tkrotchko (124118) *
        It's a great foundation, and I think they're terrific. However, while Bill Gates is a big shareholder of Microsoft, and he is the owner of the Foundation, they don't appear to be related at all. That is, Microsoft's will is not expressed via the Foundation, which is a good thing. They're more concerned with at-risk children, and the welfare of the planet, which doesn't necessary align with Microsoft's business plan.

        But, I went to the link, and it doesn't mention anything about training U.S. programmers t
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erwos (553607) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:07PM (#18154642)
    Seems to me that the appropriate way of handling this issue would be for the US to encourage more students to take up CS as their degree, and do more to encourage smart, well-educated professionals to immigrate here - permanently. Temporary visas and the like seem to be band-aids rather than real solutions.

    I don't care where they're from - this country can only do better to have more educated folks living in it.
    • How exactly would you have the US encourage folks to study CS? For better or worse, the US is capitalist, free market. So to encourage people to become computer scientists, we should increase CS salaries.

      Instead, our government, at the behest of companies like Microsoft, is doing its best to suppress engineering salaries. Gates says we need 100,000 developers a year. Gates says we bring in 65,000 H1-B's a year. My experience is that H1-B's make half what citizens and green card holders make. You do

    • Not to mention- it sure would be nice to make computer science an evolutionarily viable career. Say, enough time off to find a wife, have kids, raise a family; while still keeping a salary large enough to pay for such things. That sort of thing.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:08PM (#18154656) Homepage

    There's no shortage. Salaries are too low.

    As the IEEE points out, relative engineering salaries have been declining since the 1970s.

    What Gates is whining about is that there aren't enough people willing to learn the ins and outs of Microsoft's software and work around its problems in the field. What he wants are cheap janitors to clean up the Mess from Redmond.

    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      Yah, Redmond isn't the place to be with a CS degree, you want to be in gaming specifically Electronic Arts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Certainly he wants the work to be done as inexpensively as possible. Any well run business should want the same thing as those that allow salaries to grow out of control are doomed in the long run.

      Among the many many mistakes made by the US auto industry was the thinking that since labor was such a small percentage of what it cost to make their product they didn't need to control it. Before long a guy running a screw gun was making $22/hour to screw in a tenth as many screws as a robot in Japan with a capit
  • How about the fact that most people have to go through 17+ years of education to do one of these jobs (k-12 + 4-year program) even though you clearly don't need that much training? Plus either get someone else to pay for it or go deep in debt at an early age. Most of the education system has very little to do with your job, and everything to do with ID'ing yourself as in the x-th percentile of intelligence, because employers can't run such tests themselves.

    I mean, it's great to learn all that extra stuff,
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:25PM (#18154968) Homepage Journal

      I mean, it's great to learn all that extra stuff, get new "perspectives", be "well-rounded", etc. I won't deny that at all. But isn't it more important that you be able to live independently first, in a job commensurate with your abilities?

      What you're talking about is a program that would produce mindless drones. We expose people to a multitude of content in school so that they are aware of things beyond the end of their nose.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:53PM (#18155460)

      everything to do with ID'ing yourself as in the x-th percentile of intelligence

      Unfortunately this is not true. I'm in the 99.9th percentile as far as intelligence (at least according to the Triple Nine Society) but I only have a Bachelor's degree and a not-very-good GPA, which is enough to keep me from going to a good graduate school. Why is my GPA so low? Because schools don't measure intelligence.

      When I was in elementary school I began to realize that there is a "sweet spot" for intelligence in school. Since then I've seen more and more evidence of it. As a student's intelligence approaches the sweet spot from below, the student gets higher and higher grades. But if intelligence continues to increase past that, grades begin to go back down. (Of course there are other factors besides intelligence that can cause low grades, but the main idea is valid.) This is why "gifted" programs work -- "gifted" students actually get better grades in harder courses because the standard courses bore them to death. But even "gifted" programs have a "sweet spot" beyond which your intelligence starts to work against you. (I put "gifted" in quotes because it presupposes someone doing the gifting.)

      After ten years I am considering leaving the computer field. In the jobs I've held so far, I've brought knowledge from my education and from books only to be disallowed from using it because the boss doesn't know how to use it, has no way of verifying that I'm using it correctly, and is terrified of having to find another employee who knows it too. And yet, I don't know any other way to get the job done, so I end up using the knowledge I have anyway. This makes me "disobedient." When the books and the evidence show that I am right, this makes my situation even worse. No boss likes to be proved wrong.

      My mother is a math teacher. Her students always complain to her, "Why do we have to learn this stuff? We'll never have to use it!" Sadly, I find myself siding with the students: if you go to the trouble to learn, say, differential equations, you won't be able to use them because you won't be able to find a boss who understands them enough to allow you to use them.

      Intelligence is an asset when you use it against the natural world. But it seems to be an enormous liability in society. So don't go thinking that employers want intelligence. They don't. They want obedience. And that is what schools really measure: people whose intelligence is below the "sweet spot" can't understand orders well enough to obey them, but people whose intelligence is above that point understand their orders too well and tend to question them, and that isn't wanted either.

      That is why employers are in a quandary with engineering. Engineering demands intelligence and intelligence doesn't work well with obedience. Some of this is due to American culture, too, where, in spite of the school system, people are raised with the ideas of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which is why many employers prefer to outsource to cultures where obedience to authority is a more important and accepted part of life.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        In the jobs I've held so far, I've brought knowledge from my education and from books only to be disallowed from using it because the boss doesn't know how to use it, has no way of verifying that I'm using it correctly, and is terrified of having to find another employee who knows it too. And yet, I don't know any other way to get the job done, so I end up using the knowledge I have anyway. This makes me "disobedient." When the books and the evidence show that I am right, this makes my situation even worse
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:09PM (#18154688)
    Gates must have dropped out before taking Econ 101.

    A labor shortfall in a free market ALWAYS results in higher wages which ends up drawing more people into the field. Once an employment saturation point is achieved, salaries decline and employment levels off.

    H-1B visas artificially increase the labor supply while decreasing wage growth. This attempt to "makeup the shortfall" will only further depress CS enrollments. Why on earth would a prospective student go into CS if the money is not there, and labor is being imported to further drive down wages?

    Gates is not a stupid man - he knows these economic rules, and lowering wages is the only reason to push for more H-1B visas.

    -ted
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JesseMcDonald (536341) *

      H-1B visas artificially increase the labor supply while decreasing wage growth.

      Rather, the requirement for H-1B visas artificially restricts the labor supply, raising wages (but reducing wealth), whereas an increased supply of visas allows the labor supply and wages to grow toward their natural levels.

  • That's the problem. There is a shortage of people willing to work 80 hrs a week for $60K with a relocation to West Gopher Hole, South Dakota.

    Blah blah blah not enough high schools teach Microsoft coding skills. Blah blah blah not enough Indians coming to America to debug Redmond's code. Blah blah blah we need more wage slaves.
    • Have you seen the state of some of our cities? West Gopher Hole doesn't sound so bad sometimes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by isaac (2852)

      That's the problem. There is a shortage of people willing to work 80 hrs a week for $60K with a relocation to West Gopher Hole, South Dakota.


      No, $60k in South Dakota would be fine. The problem is they want to pay $60k in Seattle, where the median home price is >$450k.

      -Isaac

  • I have no idea why there would be such a need for more workers, it's almost as if all the employed engineers are busy doing something else at work, like going to some website and posting comments or something... nah, that can't be it!
  • There are no silver bullets. But from what I see, better (more exigent) schools, truly RDBMSs (*not* SQL), functional programming, formal methods, open systems would go a long way of making people more productive, not to mention the free market perspective: just open the borders.

    I am sure each one will have his own list. I would put Unicode, well-formed SGML and TeX everywhere in the list too, but I feel they wouldn't be such a huge boost to productivity.
  • The problem, as I see it, isn't that the government has been doing to little, but rather, doing too much. In classic economics, when there aren't enough workers to fill the roles, salaries and working conditions increase for the valued few. People see how well they're treated and desire these jobs, and go to college to learn how to do it.

    In the current state, the government fills far too many of those jobs with foreign born workers, offering them no chance to become American citizens and forcing them to wor
  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:14PM (#18154752) Homepage Journal
    Here's a thought:

    What if there were no immigration quotas?

    What if we let anyone and everyone except criminals, terrorists, and those incapable of working come in by just paying port fees, putting down a deposit for a return airplane or bus ticket, and showing they either had a job offer or had a month's worth of living expenses available? Give them all work-authorization cards.

    In the first few years there would be a lot of wage-adjustments as certain markets like high-tech, manual-labor, and low-wage retail got flooded but in the long run I think it would be good for the overall economy. Instead of high-tech jobs going to India dragging down American wages, high-tech jobs would remain here at depressed wages but the American economy would benefit from the local employment. It would also give the few Americans who are truly lazy or underperforming a kick in the proverbial kiester if they want to stay employed.

    So what if I and my fellow technocrats see wages drop to below $35,000 for starting college grads and proportionately lower for experienced programmers? If it means a more robust American economy and better cultural exchanges with the larger immigrant populations then I'm all for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)
      If it really did work this way, a college degree would also drop in price from $50,000 for four years to $12,000 for four years. Your cars would drop from $25,000 to $19,000. Your DVD's would drop from $22 to $19.

      In that kind of environment, I'd be happy to take a pay cut. The problem is corporations are making a lot of money (record profits for Exxon, a multi BILLION dollar cash chest that Microsoft can't even find ways to spend) and getting artificial laws passed to restrain trade (TV shows months behi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by scharkalvin (72228)
        Do that and watch the number of mortgage forecloses go up a few thousand percent as many white collar workers can no longer afford their homes. The housing market will die out putting builders out of work as a 10 year backlog of unsold homes hits the market with no takers. Auto workers will go out of work as the market for luxury cars and suv's dries up (but think of how this will help global warming!). Maybe in a few years things will level out, but the president that presides of this disaster will go d
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glider0524 (847295)
      Globalization suppresses normal diversification in a given country's economy. Anything that can sub-contracted out to a foreign land just disappears from this country's employment profile and those left have to cluster in to a shortening list of professions left. The jobs that are left here become either less skilled, or in management. There can be only so many managerial staff in the economy, we probably have too many as it is. The country has already lost the vast majority of its manufacturing industr
  • You will only have crap employees. Maybe it's time to start actually being competitive in hiring and lifestyle as well as being competitive in the marketplace; after all, full time employees in Europe and Japan enjoy the ability to buy a home, settle down in one place, and raise a family.

    Either that or it's time for the United States to realize that economics is a form of warfare for rich countries- and get serious about winning economic wars with our peers instead of wasting money losing military wars with our inferiors. If so, we'll need to realize that the international corporation is effectively a double agent traitor or the arms dealer who sells to both sides- and treat those businesses accordingly.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:18PM (#18154808) Homepage
    There was an article posted outside of a professor's door when I was in college a year and a half ago talking about Microsoft's problem with treating even its IT contractors right. Maybe the real reason that IT is "suffering" is that companies often don't treat their IT employees like real employees. My fiance's dad, for example, has been proven to be a strategic asset to his company, but when he had to switch jobs because the client's manager found out that he made more money than she did, his boss basically said "ain't my duty to lift a finger to find you work" until it became a possibility that a competitor might pick him up. Given his reputation, that's actually possible. Hell, the abuses that IT workers ranging from sysadmins to software engineers face at the hands of corporate bureaucrats is legendary, and many young people are turned off/scared of that! Who wants to get paid a modest salary for that, especially women? My fiance can't take the abuse from the corporate types over her which is part of the reason why she fully intends to say "fuck this industry" and become a stay at home mother coding in her spare time for fun and to teach her kids if they're interested.

    And the thing is that people like Bill Gates don't even care that they are adding to this by calling for the dilution of wages even more, at the same time that many "good liberals" like Gates support high taxes, high regulations and other things that cut into the competitiveness of the average worker compared to foreign workers and reduce the wages of the domestic workers. Yes, I know I'm cynical.
    • >How to Keep America Competitive

      Break up cumbersome monopolies?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tom's a-cold (253195)

      Maybe the real reason that IT is "suffering" is that companies often don't treat their IT employees like real employees.

      In other words, they treat them like their other employees. The whole H1-B program is a scam to depress the salaries of American software people. I've done a lot of work in Silicon Valley and it's become increasingly clear to me that it's not about a skills shortage, it's about being able to pay a guy from (let's use a common example) India a lot less than an equivalently-skilled America

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070)

      My fiance can't take the abuse from the corporate types over her which is part of the reason why she fully intends to say "fuck this industry" and become a stay at home mother coding in her spare time for fun and to teach her kids if they're interested.

      In the nearly ten years since I left college, I've worked for startups, small businesses and large corporations. I wouldn't say "fuck this industry" so much as "fuck you". Out of all of the places I've worked, I've hated corporations the most. They seems

  • WTF does that mean? Creating provably correct AI banking software? Or hacking together a website so that it is nothing more than 'COBOL in drag'? Or applying service packs to aging, cranky Windows boxen?

    For 99% of the work out there a CS degree is wasted. For the other 1% no one respects it unless you have a Phd.

    And I know I am sounding like a broken record, but I will say it again. Most of the problem is that software, including most commercial and some OSS development tools (billg, I'm talking about your
  • This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by J.R. Random (801334) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:23PM (#18154924)

    A super rich capitalist wants to increase his profits by importing more cheap labor.

    It will be news when a super rich capitalist says, "Sure, it costs a little more to hire American citizens, but I do that because I don't want to see this continued race to the bottom, with the level of economic inequality in this country soon to exceed that of Brazil."

  • Technology is making great leaps in availability and penetration into our society. As a result, more and more people are knowledgeable and interested in the different fields that make up the industry. It takes time for these 14 year old MySpace kids to nurture those interests and attend college for a degree. Now that kids are much more involved with the internet beyond just IM and chat, the industry will gain a whole new group of people interested in technology in one area or another.

    Once the penetration
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:26PM (#18154978) Homepage Journal
    There is no shortage of US engineers -- there is only a shortage of young engineers -- and of managers who see the difference between a line of code and productivity. Not one of the guys over 40 I know is making as much now as he was BEFORE 1996 and most of them have been unemployed most of the time since the year 2000 -- this during a time when real estate costs have skyrocketed along with H-1b imports.

    This includes guys who were college buddies of Ray Ozzie and helped him with his CS homework. Yeah, I went to the University of Illinois and worked on the PLATO project as a system programmer.

    And don't give me garbage about "keeping up on your skills" when the guys I've most closely worked with -- these obsolete aging engineers who "don't keep up on their skills" -- were doing 50K line Javascript web applications back in 1997 and couldn't get the mind-share among the "luminaries" who were all agog about Java -- and do we even need to talk about VB?

    There has been a demographic collapse among young engineers because the prior generation of engineers couldn't afford to have children [slashdot.org] even if they could find a wife in one of the male saturated ghettos created by guys like you [slashdot.org]. The few young men sired by engineers are all-too-aware of what you've done to their fathers and they'll be better off going into real estate or moving out to a little plot of land in the country living an eco-friendly subsistence lifestyle.

    You see they know they are from a culture that respects women's sovereignty to the point that arranged marriages are out of the question -- unlike the hoards you idiots are importing.

    Well, sorry, you're obviously not idiots. You're probably suffering from a mild form of Aspergers to be so unaware of these profound social problems afflicting your subjects -- sort of like a "nobility" that just can't understand why their subjects don't eat cake and then try to guillotine them. My nephew has a fairly severe form of Aspergers but he can get along a lot better now that he is self-aware about it and the limitations it places on his judgement about human social relations. Sometimes reality makes one sound like a satirist but there is truth to what I'm saying here.

  • If the old-timers can be believed, before 1995 people *looked forward* to new releases of software. Not only new products, but whole new categories of software were being created. No nation in the world could keep up.

    What, exactly, has changed since then, and who was responsible?
  • by TheLink (130905) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:27PM (#18155018) Journal
    I'm not in the US, nor a US citizen, but I thought the US companies wanted to send those jobs overseas anyway? Why should smart US students waste X years doing CS, graduate and then have their jobs outsourced or have to compete for jobs treated as "cheap labour" by companies (after all what's the H1-B thing really about)?

    If the companies keep changing their minds, well too bad for them.

    Meanwhile, it's supply and demand. Not enough applicants? Start offering higher salaries and better working conditions then - too bad you'd probably have to wait a while - try thinking longer term next time.

    Otherwise I think they just want more silly people to rush into CS just to increase supply and keep prices down.

    The real crisis is the shortage of people with competence and integrity, rather than a shortage of people who do Computer Science.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mr.Gates can afford it. I've never heard of a job an American wont to for decent working conditions and decent pay.

    All this nonsense about a "talent shortage" is just that ... non sense. We've heard about a "nurse shortage" for about 80 years now. The fact is, rich hospitals and nursing homes don't want to pay the going rate for labor services. They'd like their own private supply of non-union, foreign 28 year olds (which other businesses wouldn't be allowed to steal).

    It's the same with microsoft. The
  • The fundamental problem is this: We don't value education or hard work as a society. We're overly obsessed with celebrities, sports stars, or whatever other distraction is going on. The educational system itself de-emphasizes fundamental stuff like math and science in favor or "softer" subjects like art and literature. As a result, we turn out project managers and marketing people, not geeks.

    Other cultures embrace education and drill it into kids' heads that it's in their best interest to do well. Other cou
  • After the dot.com bust, there were a siginificant amount of unemployed programmers suddenly on the market place amd employers got used to paying artificially cheap salaries to programmers, who just took any offer to get a job.

    The situation now is that employers have got used to cheap developers and now don't want to wake up and smell the coffee and pay us what we're really worth again, so the job is less attractive to those currently making career decisions. This actually benefits those of us who are alread
  • The credit bubble crash will fix this right up.
  • IT degree (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Broken scope (973885) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:36PM (#18155154) Homepage
    At my college we have the CS majors... and the IT majors. Every year we lose CS majors and IT gains students.

    IT majors do 2 programming courses and a no advanced math(no calc). CS majors have a harder dergee program and our college doesn't give a shit about us. They spend time talking about their 100% placement rate with IT major and how all the IT majors are on the management level within 5 years making six figures. Many of the IT majors have their oh so superior "I'll be your boss one day" attitudes which is only reinforced by the attitude of the faculty. It pisses me off to no end because they tout programming skills but if you asked them to do anything more advanced than simple nested for loops and method calls in java they would give you a blank look and go "huh?". Then they make a comment about their golfing skills scoff and walk away. I will plot your downfall you sonofabitch and you won't know what hit you... ahem.. sorry got a little carried away there.

    The scary part is with few exception the CS majors look like stereotypical CS majors. Its really scary. Some of us go to the gym or run everyday. The problem is many of us don't and that is the ones people see. The other problem is we have a ton of primadonas. The ones who sit and basically scoff at their classes and claim to be mad hackers. The thing is they are for the most part pretty damned smart. They are to arrogant to do anything or work with other people and they will manage to get their degree and they won't be able to do jack shit in the real world because they refuse to do the mundane programming. They want glamor. These are guys who are about to graduate.

    My first semester I got bored and went back and looked at all the mistakes I made registering for classes. One of them was packing my classes into 5 hour work chunks a day or having 2 classes back top back that were way to far away. I spent the next few hours writing some pseudo code. I also asked a friend of mine who is a civil engineering major if he could give me distances between all the building using all the heavily used walking paths on campus. Once I figured it out me and another CS major who was in his third year wrote the actual code up and we took it to the guy who administrates our class scheduling and registration system. He liked it, had another guy on the staff help us adapt it to better work with the database and the front end we employ and we added it. Next semester we saved countless freshman a lot of trouble. We got thanked, credited, were given good experience, I got a recommendation that will help me with any internships I apply for, and hell it was kinda fun to do.

    The CS primadonas gave me disdain because I did something so simple that they could do "blindfolded", something that was below their wizardry. IT majors were still pompous arrogant assholes.

    It might just be me but since the CS profession lost that bit of glamor it had we have been attracting for the most part the wrong sort of people. We need to make it so its worth the time to get a CS major again instead of making a CS major a miserable experience. That however is just my 0.02$ based on my narrow little slice of hell. Thank god I'm going to a different college next year and starting my game design degree then my masters in CS.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:37PM (#18155188)
    Where are these 100,000 jobs that Mr. Gates claims appear annually? In what branch(es) of "computer science?" Application development? Database administration? Desktop support? R&D? All of these could fall under the umbrella of "computer science," but they require totally different skills and training. Here's something to consider: if a company eliminates 100 engineers from application development and adds 100 network admin jobs (for example), that's 100 unemployed engineers and 100 admin openings competing for qualified applicants. The amount of training required in a "computer science" sub-field makes jumping from one field to another prohibitive for the employee. Especially given that no one wants to go from a senior job in one branch to an entry-level job in another. This creates a lot of inefficiency in the employment market. So it may be not that our schools are inferior; it may be instead the labor market is changing so fast that the labor pool can't keep up.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:38PM (#18155200)
    Let's see..

    1) Absolutely KILL yourself in college with 35 hours a week of homework for ONE Database class while your friends are spending about 12 hours a week for all homework in all classes.

    2) Pay $50,000 over 4 years just like they do.

    3) Graduate into a low-status job when it comes to dating (I get a LOT more action from my $500 massage therapy training than I ever did from my CS degree-- MT is a female dominated field- you can't turn around without finding three or four who want to hang out and do tradeoffs and go to conferances- and MT work is like working out 8 hours a day so they tend to be fit and they tend to also be very nice people because they deal with the public a lot-- the pay is crap of course).

    4) Start with a reasonably high salary-- but after a few years, it becomes clear you need to leave the field and project lead or manage (that's me these days) if you ever want to make "real" money.

    5) Be managed by people who absolutely HATE that they have to have you- they view you as a COST.

    6) Never ever be understood by management (either overworked when you are stupid or underworked once you smarten up). They'll replace you in a heartbeat with crappy but cheaper labor. I.e. NO JOB SECURITY. How can you buy a bloody house when you might be unemployeed for 7 months without notice.

    7) And then-- at 55-- no more work. I've known so many who were just pushed out of the field. And you need the insurance you see. (Hence also my shift into manager+tech skills).

    Corporations spent the 90's and the early 00's repeatedly teaching us that they have no loyalty to us and that they are going to hire people making $10,000 to replace us.

    Okay-- WE GET IT. We are leaving the field. Young pups are not entering the field in the first place. And now they complain? Screw them. I hope they have severe problems and end up having to pay $150 an hour for 5 or 6 years to get people to enter the field again.

  • by maynard (3337) <j@maynard@gelinas.gmail@com> on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:39PM (#18155216) Journal
    First in the very early 1990s, I was laid off and wound up selling boots in an army/navy store for a couple of years while the market recovered. At the time I was in my early twenties, so I consider that a reasonable outcome given my experience level and professional abilities at the time. This last downturn, from 2000 onward, I've survived well enough an remained employed in the field.

    And based upon those experiences I say that there's a damn good reason people are avoiding computer science and other technical fields. The job market for this skill-set is far too volatile. I know of many people with excellent skills who can't find work. One programmer friend, who is absolutely top notch, can't find work because he is over fifty; pure age discrimination.

    University students aren't unable or unwilling to learn technical skills, instead they're making a good long term bet that training up for a skill in a volatile market might well leave them unable to pay-off the mortgage on a good home, pay for their children's college tuition, or any number of other basic middle class expectations.

    I would not recommend this career to anyone who wanted to work in industry. For those who love the science in computer science, then get at Ph.D and conduct research as a faculty member at a university. Get tenure. Otherwise, you'll just get screwed.
  • by wtansill (576643) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:53PM (#18155468)
    From TFA:

    Today we know that these elements are outweighed by a single critical factor: innovation.
    This from Microsoft -- one of the best-known companies in the field for fostering innovation. Stacker? Netscape? CSS? ODF vs. OOXML? Hmmm...

    Two steps are critical. First, we must demand strong schools so that young Americans enter the workforce with the math, science and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge economy. We must also make it easier for foreign-born scientists and engineers to work for U.S. companies.
    Mr. Bill of course does not realize that the first thing he mentions, better education, is largely negated by the second -- more "foreighn-born scientists and engineers". So -- I should go to school for many years, and rack up sizable amounts of debt to pursue a job that will be outsourced to India, or that will be given to the holder of an H1-B visa rather than me, as the visa holder can be had more cheaply... Yes -- this makes perfect economic sense to me.

    American competitiveness also requires immigration reforms that reflect the importance of highly skilled foreign-born employees. Demand for specialized technical skills has long exceeded the supply of native-born workers with advanced degrees, and scientists and engineers from other countries fill this gap.
    Of course demand exceeds supply. Because companies do not want to pay the wages commensurate with the educational and experience levels of US-born applicants. "Our American workers cost too much. Let's rework the immigration laws so that we can hire some cheaper labor from foreign countries!"

    The United States provides 65,000 temporary H-1B visas each year to make up this shortfall -- not nearly enough to fill open technical positions.
    So please, congresspeople, raise the visa limit so we can get more people that we can abuse with low pay and long hours!

    Permanent residency regulations compound this problem. Temporary employees wait five years or longer for a green card. During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success and overall economic growth.
    OK -- I don't get this. This hurts Microsoft .... how, exactly? If the visa holder can't change jobs, that means that MS "owns" them, so I do not uinderstand the complaint.

    Last year, reform on this issue stalled as Congress struggled to address border security and undocumented immigration. As lawmakers grapple with those important issues once again, I urge them to support changes to the H-1B visa program that allow American businesses to hire foreign-born scientists and engineers when they can't find the homegrown talent they need.
    Thus virtually guaranteeing that there will be no home-grown applicants since it will not be economically viable for them to study for any job that can be outsourced on Bill G's whim.

    Sorry, but it sounds like more of the same corprate blather to me.
  • by 955301 (209856) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:57PM (#18155534) Journal
    Industrialize software development. It's still a science right now and not an engineering practice.

    We're the only industry where the person who designs the product also works on creating it. This is a collosal mistake for the exact reason this article points out - there are not enough skilled hands to squander on the unskilled aspects of development.

    The architect should never create class diagrams. The developer should never change the architecture. The Programmer should *never* change a method signature or add a new method or class.

    Then the architects can be masters, the developers bachelors, and the programmers high school graduates.

    *That*, my friends will cause an explosion in the quality of software development. If the developer has to design to the method level and get it right, reuse will become the way of life, not just a novelty. Typing can be learned in high school, as can method level programming.

    If programmers are simply tackling a string of homework assignments from their point of view of simplicity (here's a problem method, fill it in) they can be more like carpenters and less like jacks of all trades.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yogs (592322)
      You clearly don't do this for a living. There all always trade-offs, corner cases, performance considerations, and other things that can be important to the architecture of the system, and are impossible to get right without being familiar with the details. Once you are there looking at the details, it almost always takes less time to do it yourself than it takes to explain it in sufficient detail, even to someone on your level. We don't need more low skill level developers, we need more high skill level
  • by LuisAnaya (865769) on Monday February 26, 2007 @01:59PM (#18155570)
    Let's see... who in their right mind would go for a career that:
    • The amount of money you get does not equal the amount of time spent unlike other careers
    • You age sooner than a super model, you're considered "over the hill" after the age of 40 if you're still doing technical work.
    • You seldom get paid to keep yourself current, some companies do, others do not. Most of the time, you are stuck with a technology segment while the world around you changes every 5 years. It was a hard time for me to move from Mainframe programming to UNIX/C, and it is going to be another hard time for me if I ever decide to move to Web/AJAX/Java development.
    • Your job is in jeopardy to be outsourced or being forced adjusted for cheaper labor.
    • ... and you can't take overtime because you're considered "a manager".
    Really, who wants to deal with this crap? I'm sorry, but until conditions do not improve, it's going to be a tough sale to college students to go for CS's. People asks me about it and this is what I say: It is lot's of fun if you like it but at the end, you're better of going to business, med or become a lawyer if you want to get the moolah". Personally, I moved from software development to technical pre-sales and I could not be happier. I sometimes wondered if I should've gone for an MBA rather than my MS in CS. Oh well..
  • by nomad63 (686331) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:00PM (#18155582)
    Yes it is a thorny issue. H1B has its upsides and down as any other matter. I, for one, was the holder of those highly coveted 65,000 H1B visas at one time in the past. If I do not have single dime in the dot com boom time in the silicon valley to my name right now, I owe it to that H1B> I came here from Canada, without knowing much, or heck, nothing, about what H1B entails. I was placed in Atlanta GA, at the time where all those people in Silicon Valley, who were making obscene amounts of money on IPOs, were farming their low level, day-to-day operations to where I worked. I was stuck with this company, Syntel, one of the biggest abusers of H1B visa, because the owner/CEO (they are publicly traded) was indian and had a large pool of available candidates. I met with some of these people. Some were sharp and US should be happy to have them in the workforce here but some others I have met were really the bottom of barrel.

    US does not have a good system to justify these people. Most "engineers" these H1B abusing companies bring in, are/were brought in to, first learn than contribute to the projects they were supposed to be assisting from the get go. And nobody was saying anything. Mainly because, they needed to fill the desks with warm bodies. In my opinion, lots of these highly coveted H1B positions did not do any good to US economy but was a boon to the abusers of these visa holders, such as Syntel, Tata etc. They were able to fill up their coffers without much effort.

    H1B to permanent residency was a good promise as long as it floated. But in my case, less than 3 months before my, so-called, labor certification got approved by the dept. of labor, I got canned by the second company who held my visa and I found myself, facing deportation. Fortunately, I had a girlfriend at the time, wife now, who is a US citizen and we had to take our marriage plans way in advance. So, if these people are really useful and contributing in the positions they hold, I think US should do something to speed up this process and should not hold them tied to the employers. Otherwise, DOL, should have a possibility to can the visas of some and send them back. And before the approval of H1B visas, I think something as substantial as a degree from an accredited foreign college should be a requirement to prevent the abuser companies, bringing in the riff-raff as experts.
  • Well DUH! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:09PM (#18155734) Journal
    If they want to know why, all they have to do is look at the career possibilities.

    #1) Unneeded: IT is seen (By the C-Level executives) as expensive, overpriced, overstaffed, and overhead. It is one of the first departments to get hit with layoffs when times get tough.

    #2) No promotion/raise: The only way I have gotten a promotion or a raise is to change jobs. 5 years of working for a company, working to better the systems and protect the company assets. When the Manager moved up (to the GM spot) I put in for the position. I am told that I am not qualified. Strange, you would think that 10 years management experience, PM classes and 2 years towards a MBA would qualify me.

    #3) Respect: When problems occur, IT is the first to get blamed Do I even need to explain this one?

    #4) Cost Cutting: IT is the only field I have ever worked where you can and do get asked to take a pay cut while doubling your work load.

    #5) Knowledge and training == 0: This is one of the few fields where people are paid for what they know, only to have the critical decisions made without their input. How many of us have been overridden by a C-Level Exec? Ex: "I have decided that we will be a MS Windows shop from now on. I need you to replace those 8 old HP9000 oracle servers with this new quad processor Windows server." --- Real example!

    #6) Education: Most realize that after 4 years in college, they enter the workforce 7 years behind the curve. Experience is everything!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:17PM (#18156916)
    Why bother with obtaining a CS degree anyway? All it does it put you squarely with the pack of starving dogs trying to scarf up scraps of work in companies that arn't going to Beijing or New Delhi. Yes, you might get lucky and get the senior sysadmin job because of the MCSE/RHCE/CCIE, but the second management finds someone cheaper, expect to find your stuff boxed at your desk the next morning.

    The CS degree has only one use, and that is a prerequisite to law school. Being even a top IT guy in a business just makes you a master sargent, while you are forever under the command of the "butter bars" (second lieutenants) -- the law department guys. They say jump, you better jump, or your job goes poof because you were not SOX compliant. The two years spent in law school are the difference between being nobility where people listen when you speak (as well as having a real job, real money, and a car/SUV people don't snigger at behind your back) versus being the guy working 60-100 hours a week, forced to drive a jalopy, and waiting on the people fresh out of law school hand and foot.

    You want a SO, a decent car, a house where you are not living in a neighborhood with gunshots going off nightly, and a chance at people of the opposite sex? Take law school. You want 100 hour a week, no respect, with co-workers urinating on you, blaming you for any computer problems, then firing you for someone cheaper when they get the chance? Graduate CS. Yes, the two years of law school and the bar exam are a pain, but being able to afford a nice car while your classmates who graduated CS and are working four times as long as you do, still driving ten year old Metros, makes it worth it in the end.

I'm a Lisp variable -- bind me!

Working...