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The Almighty Buck United States IT

Nearly 50,000 IT Jobs Lost In Past Year 460

Posted by kdawson
from the but-you-knew-that dept.
snydeq writes "Employment statistics from the US Department of Labor show what most IT people have already realized: IT jobs are getting harder to come by. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13,000 jobs in the information industry were cut in July, bringing the total to 44,000 year over year. An additional 5,000 jobs were lost in telecom this past month. The statistics reinforce a recent survey of top CIOs who indicated that they will be reducing their IT staff over the coming year. According to a staffing research firm, some jobs have gone to outsourcers, while other jobs are simply going away, either due to cost-oriented automation efforts or due to increasing the remaining staff's workload."
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Nearly 50,000 IT Jobs Lost In Past Year

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  • Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:35AM (#24523929) Homepage Journal

    Meanwhile, CEOs continue to spout off about how there's a shortage of skilled IT people in the US. Gosh, I wonder why [slashdot.org]. If China is the "factory to the world," I guess that would make the US the Wal-Mart of the world. Give it a few years once we're all working as cashiers for Wal-Mart, and that will probably be literally true.

    Of course, the rub of it all is that as long as companies are laying off people a few hundred here and a few hundred there, something that human resource departments have mastered, no one will really be that worried about it. "Whew, glad it wasn't MY job," we all say as a few of our friends and coworkers are being escorted out the door each month. It's death by a thousand cuts, and what companies are doing will result in this country's ultimate demise as a superpower.

    • The shortage myth (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 2.7182 (819680) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:41AM (#24524021)
      There has always been a myth, propagated by politicians, media and who knows who else that there is such a shortage. Anyone with a Ph.D. in physics can tell you that this is so.
      • Shortage (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheLink (130905)
        Haven't you heard? There is a shortage of women in IT.

        We need to encourage more women to go into IT, so that they can:

        1) Lose their jobs promptly
        2) Have difficulty finding jobs in IT
        3) Increase the supply of IT jobs and thus lower IT wages

        This must be a good thing right?

        After all every few months there is some mass media prattle about encouraging women in IT.

        Obviously they'd rather women not go into pharmacy, law, dentistry, nursing and other jobs which are a bit harder to send overseas.

        Maybe a career in IT
    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by baldass_newbie (136609) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:41AM (#24524027) Homepage Journal

      You do realize that there are two types of IT work done in the US: project and maintenance. Ongoing maintenance is easily outsourced and firms are not primed to continuously run IT project after IT project.
      IT is basically landscaping but with computers instead of shrubbery. Maybe it's not seasonal but there's no rule saying EVERYONE has to do projects all the time or at the same time.
      In fact, with money tightening, most orgs are content to limp through with what applications and systems they have until things turn better.

      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:52AM (#24524191) Homepage Journal

        IT is basically landscaping but with computers instead of shrubbery.

        So *that's* why the Knights Who Say Ni! keep following me around...

        • by ArhcAngel (247594)

          So *that's* why the Knights Who Say Ni! keep following me around...

          Actually they are henceforth known as the Knights who say Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        I wouldn't even call it project and maintenance. I would just call it what it is, skilled vs. unskilled. There's so many different jobs that get lumped into IT, that you can't really say how things are going one way or the other, and how it affects individuals working in "IT". IT includes everybody from the people who help out sys admins by re-imagining corporate laptops, and ISP call center people who just read from scripts, who don't even know what DNS is, all the way up to people writing file systems,
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Grey_14 (570901)

          The people writing stuff like file systems, OS kernels, and games are considered as being in the field of CS, not IT. more people understand that distinction nowadays than in the past but yeah, sometimes any job on involving a computer gets lumped under IT

        • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:26AM (#24524759) Homepage Journal

          I don't think those of use doing skilled IT labour have to worry about.

          Unless the company or (in some cases) entire industry that you work for goes into the tanker. Then all bets are off.

          When I worked as a senior programmer/analyst for a major airline and 9/11 hit, almost half of the IT department was axed during one day, and it was normally done by project or team -- whole branches of the org chart were removed seemingly w/o much regard for the individuals/tasks/skills present in the branch.

          If it was pure development or something not seen as operationally critical, it was gone.

          I know a number of 25+ year developers who were highly skilled and (in some cases) were *the* subject matter experts in their areas who lost their jobs during those layoffs.

          It doesn't always happen that way, but I know from firsthand experience that it can. :-(

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hoi Polloi (522990)

          Sys Admins and networking folks probably get lumped in with "unskilled" until something breaks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by smooth wombat (796938)

        You do realize that there are two types of IT work done in the US: project and maintenance.

        As if to emphasize the project part: Where the jobs are [cnn.com]. Third full paragraph indicates that the tech industry is looking for management types in the South and Souteast.

        This article is about management level jobs but where there's management needed, there are probably jobs there as well as they have to manage someone.

      • Lack of leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JonTurner (178845) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:14AM (#24526901) Journal

        >>IT is basically landscaping but with computers instead of shrubbery.

        Wait a second, there's an enormous difference. Landscaping can't make other employees tens or hundreds of times more efficient, give one company a competitive advantage over others in the industry, fulfill oversight requirements, or create business opportunities (including new products and new markets). However, a bit of innovation in IT can certainly do all of the above. IT can have a multiplying effect, amplifying the work of the entire organization.

        Actually, let me rephrase that a bit. IT, **DONE PROPERLY** can achieve those things. The problem is there is a lot of mediocre leadership in large corporations where the Chief MucketyMuck has the point-of-view that IT is simply a chore of business, like having a janitorial service, or landscaping. And guess what? This remarkable lack of vision is self-fulfilling: they treat IT as if it's a chore, defund it, crush innovation and morale and offshore at every opportunity, then act REALLY SURPRISED when there's no innovation and the competition runs right past them in the marketplace.

        The problem is not IT, it's lack of vision and leadership from the highest levels.

      • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DeadDecoy (877617) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:52AM (#24527651)
        The sad thing is, many US maintenance projects cannot or should not be outsourced but they are for the shortsighted goal of saving money now. The problem with outsourcing a job that usually requires some level of education is that the pool of knowledge and skills tends to follow. Who wants to train in a job that's going away anyways, right? The consequences occur further down the line when managers realize 'o shit, I need someone to update legacy system X to keep us viable but they've all been outsourced'. This is probably applies to software systems than hardware systems because fluid business needs impose convenient, but poorly thought-out, changes to a very complex system. As a consequence, we are selling our ability to work with a certain technology away.

        Now, this may not be a bad thing, as other developing nations get a chance to play with some technologies and realize they need better education systems. They may develop new technologies, they may develop a thriving business capitol. In other words, job aren't going away permanently, they're just learning a new language. It's up to the individual if they want to acquire/keep a job in a particular field as large layoffs and outsourcing is becoming an inconvenient fact for some of us.
    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:55AM (#24524231)
      There is a shortage of the top level people who can come up with compelling new ideas and get industry to buy into them. There is a shortage of the people who can conceptualise at the level needed to architect systems that actually achieve real benefits. These are the people who create jobs, and they have always been in short supply. There is no shortage of mediocre people or not very good people. This isn't about ticking boxes on resumes, this is about the people who get interviewed at a level where nobody is ticking the boxes, they are talking large systems and strategy. Perhaps the really gifted engineers have already moved on to the next big thing.

      Having said that, I suspect the same is true of gifted CEOs and business managers.

      As for China, I don't see any difference there. Being cheap and accepting high scrap rates and the occasional scandal is not a long term strategy. The painful issue that we are not addressing is that we (including me, I am one of the guilty parties) are creating a world which is just too difficult and complex for most people to play an meaningful role.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:42AM (#24525041) Homepage

        There is a shortage for Competent skilled and experienced IT workers that will accept a very low wage.

        THAT is the real shortage. I know of several IT guys that were making a paltry $23.50 an hour that have been offered several IT jobs at $12.95 or $18.95 an hour and told the recruiter it was an insult.

        They make more selling insurance and working as a drywaller than in IT.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lonewolf666 (259450)

        Perhaps the really gifted engineers have already moved on to the next big thing.

        Having said that, I suspect the same is true of gifted CEOs and business managers.

        The sort of managers that found companies like Google.

        The interesting thing is that I rarely hear those guys bitching about a lack of skilled workers. Those who complain are usually second rate managers of second rate companies, or spokespersons of some employers' association (frequently with the goal of getting the politicians to approve more immi

      • by illumin8 (148082) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:09AM (#24525571) Journal

        There is a shortage of the top level people who can come up with compelling new ideas and get industry to buy into them. There is a shortage of the people who can conceptualise at the level needed to architect systems that actually achieve real benefits. These are the people who create jobs, and they have always been in short supply.

        Amen, brother. I've found in my extensive IT experience that 90% of the people out there don't know how to perform the most simple of IT functions, or are too lazy to do their job. Meanwhile, those of us that are architects and senior engineers are designing and implementing systems that will keep the rest of those unqualified workers in jobs for the next several years performing basic maintenance.

        If you want to be in demand, become an expert at architecture, whether it's software, systems, networks, or storage. Become an expert in one of these fields and you will be in demand.

        Don't just be a low-level check-box clicker. Those people will never have job security. If it requires no skill to do it, it can be outsourced to someone who will do it for 1/10th your salary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrgnDancer (137700)

        That is a pretty serious problem. I recently quit my job as Senior Sys Admin of a small but very technical niche company. I'm not having much problem getting bites on new jobs, so there is clearly demand (Hopefully that demand translates in to a job soon but I'm still feeling pretty confident).

        All of this to say that I've realized since I started serious hunting for a new job, that almost no one outside the field has any idea what I do. I've been sent ads for everything from programming jobs, to help des

    • you do realize (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shivetya (243324)

      that it is not the CEO's fault that you or other people have the wrong skills.

      Our productivity is higher than ever before, our industry is earning more than ever before, and still our standard of living is crazy good.

      The real fact is, too many people would rather bitch and moan, stay in a job they hate, or just do nothing, instead of trying to learn a valuable skill set. I know, it costs money. Well duh, its an investment. Got a super cell plan? Gee, guess it was important than your education. I can go

      • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:05AM (#24525493)

        that it is not the CEO's fault that you or other people have the wrong skills.

        What about those CEOs whose companies go out of their way to avoid hiring qualified candidates [youtube.com] so they can justify giving the job to someone else who will do it for half the cost? I'm not saying that all companies do this, but it's obvious these practices exist.

        That being said I agree with you that investing in your skillset is always a good idea, but that only goes so far when companies decide to game the system.

      • by kadehje (107385) <erick069@hotmail.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:30AM (#24526057) Homepage

        that it is not the CEO's fault that you or other people have the wrong skills.

        In many cases what you're saying is incorrect. How about applying the same logic to companies as you're applying to individuals. Yes, many people can do more to improve their marketability, but large companies can do a heck of a lot more to improve the quality of their workforce rather than offering sub-market wages for jobs and complaining about a shortage of "qualified workers".

        Set aside the issue of compensation and focus on skills. It's in a company's best interest to ensure that once employees are on board, that they have the skills and tools available to be as productive as possible. Got a bunch of C programmers on your payroll and want to get into the Java applications business? Teach them Java! If they're proficient at C, they're smart enough to learn Java and become eventually become proficient. It's a lot cheaper to bring in someone to teach a Java course and buy reference material than it is to embark on a search for new employees, especially when sales opportunities are lost during the recruitment effort. To use your turn of phrase: "I know, it costs money. Well duh, its an investment." Instead many companies in this situation turn potentially valuable talent away, even when ambitious employees make their own efforts to improve their skill set. Or worse yet, go to Washington and asked for the rules to be changed.

        As far as toys like your "super cell plan" are concerned, there's plenty of fat in the in the corporate world as well. Use of corporate jets for use by executives' families' vacations? Mahogany furniture in thousand-square foot personal offices? A company can pay for a course for dozens of employees to learn a new programming language or technology for what it pays in fuel costs alone for many of their CxO's vacations. Not to mention outrageous pay, perks, and severance packages many CxO's get, regardless of their performance.

        I don't have a problem with innovative founders and executives making big money. Many CEO's have brought many millions, and in some cases billions of dollars to their companies and shareholders. I don't take offense I hear about a CEO making $50 million a year that's turned a small business into a Fortune 500 company or turned a large company on the brink of bankruptcy into a profitable concern. I do get PO'd, however, when poor performance is rewarded immensely at the expense of shareholders and employees. Like, the CEO of Home Depot taking home $200 million for having HD's butt handed to him by Lowe's Corp. Or Angelo Mozillo who focused much more in liquidating his 9-figure stake of Countrywide stock in 2006-07 rather than on his company's lending standards that eventually crippled the company. In these cases and many others, the CEO's decisions hurt the company. A CEO of an IT company can very easily say, "we're falling behind because our employes lack skills X, Y, and Z. Let's work on training them and improving our bottom line." When a CEO says "Sorry for the larger-than-expected loss this quarter! There's a skill shortage on the market and there's nothing we can do about it," then he or she IS to blame.

        Yes, many people can do more to improve their career, but many companies can do a lot more than bitch and moan about it. Especially considering the assymmetry of options that corporations have that people don't have. When a company offshores an operation to Country X to take advantage of lower labor costs there, do you have the option of moving to Country X and working for that company or in that field? In most cases, the answer is no.

        The blame game works both ways, and I'm tired of hearing Corporate America saying that the only answer is "foreign labor," rather than in making private investments and supporting public investments (i.e. improved education) that would allow them to sustainably compete.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:04AM (#24524375)
      I work in a team of 8 programmers. Most are top notch, the rest are just plain good. All but one are above 35.

      There is as usual the American sense of entitlement even within this group of so-called informed people who understand the global economy. They probably glossed over the employment contract they signed that says their employment is "at will" and they can be asked to leave at any time.

      If you want the government to take care of you then you should move to some other country where the government "takes care of you".

      Don't assume that some entity will guarantee you a job then you'll be all right. People who are above 65 or who are immigrants know that instinctively. It's the native-born Americans who, like the proverbial frog in heated water, don't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not a CTO. But I am involved in hiring some of my small company's IT staff.

      There is a shortage. Especially of Software Developers.

      We're about 40-50 mins from Boston, MA. And we can't find a Perl developer worth our time. We can't even get them to the phase where we discuss salary, they're just not in the area, or they're just not applying. We can barely find someone worth an interview, and we have tried taking many chances on not-so-stellar resumes.

      We like the Open source technologies we use, and b

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mgkimsal2 (200677)

        This sounds like a sunk cost issue. You're not willing to invest in migrating to a new system which would likely get you a larger pool of more qualified developers. Why not? You'll have to bite the bullet at some point - the number of 'qualified' (per whatever your definition is) Perl developers isn't going to go up any time soon (or ever).

        "We like the Open source technologies we use, and believe using Perl gives us an advantage to rapidly develop our software."

        Obviously it's not much of an advantage if

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Eli Gottlieb (917758)

        So approximately how much are you offering to pay? I'll bet you it's roughly "Not Enough" dollars. If you can't find a developer willing to work in Perl, raise the salary until you find someone who can do what you need.

        "Shortages" only ever exist on the economy-wide level. Locally, shortages do not exist, insufficient local buying power exists.

  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:38AM (#24523971) Homepage Journal

    well does it? Because most help desk isn't really IT, but in many places it is under the IT umbrella. I'm primarily talking about the 1st contact people.

    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:56AM (#24524259)
      Not just help desk, but what about the IT guys that are self-employed? Are they counted as gaining/losing jobs?

      I know many self-employed developers that do contract work for large companies and wonder if they are are counted as employed by the company when they do a job and downsized by the company when the job is finished.

  • by segedunum (883035) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:39AM (#24523993)
    Is this just a mark of the current climate, or is this a general trend that's been going on for a few years now?
  • Meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekiegreg (674773) <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:42AM (#24524031) Homepage Journal
    That labor report seems to indicate that all jobs it's reporting on are declining. Think it's in line with the general trand these days, ie we're in a recession. Nothing unusual here...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:46AM (#24524099)

    Cool, I'm a statistic.

  • STRIKE! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:48AM (#24524133) Journal

    I say IT workers have a national strike day/week where we all don't show up for work and instead protest the ridiculous pay of incompetent managers and executives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Major Blud (789630)
      And follow the example of unionized U.S. auto-makers? That's a sure fire way to watch your job get outsourced if it already hasn't been.
    • Re:STRIKE! (Score:4, Funny)

      by ActusReus (1162583) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:04AM (#24524383)
      Can I instead just spend the day reading Slashdot from my cube rather than working? If I get credit for that, then I've already been on strike for about 12 months now... you dirty SCABS!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Corbets (169101)

      Knock yourself out. I'm more than happy to take your job. And I have a feeling that crossing a picket line of geeks won't be any near as dangerous as at an auto worker's strike. ;-)

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cutie Pi (588366) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:50AM (#24524165)

    Let's face it... the definition of IT is going to continuously evolve as people get more computer savvy and applications and hardware get more sophisticated.

    My hunch is that many of those jobs were low level and barely passable as "IT" anymore.

    Remember that in the late 70's/early 80's, you could make $60K/year for doing data entry. Typing skills and knowledge of a key program like Lotus 123 made you a god. Now of course you could pick any random 12 year old off the street and have him perform that job to perfection.

  • by damburger (981828) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:51AM (#24524175)

    By firing a load of qualified IT professionals!

    Of course, those laid off don't have the *right* skills, because they aren't 19 year olds with PhDs who were programming in ASP.NET in kindergarten before it was even created...

  • By the way (Score:5, Informative)

    by courteaudotbiz (1191083) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:52AM (#24524187) Homepage
    Here in Quebec City, they're searching for senior IT consultants everywhere! We need a lot of them for governmental projects, especially for MS infrastructure. The salary went skyrocketing in the past 2 or 3 years...
  • 50 000?
    THAT'S OVER NINETHOUSAAAAAND!!

    Damned be, lameness filter, for spotting my lameitude.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:55AM (#24524237)

    David Ogilvy (of Ogilvy and Mather) once said that when times were lean, companies cut advertising. This, he said, was foolish. It is advertising that brings in the money that is coming in.

    IT is the same. IT increases worker productivity, making every dollar you spend on headcount outside of IT worth more. IT decreases costs and increases customer satisfaction (with things like order turnaround). In some companies, it's the IT department which makes new products possible. It is your operational IT staff which keeps disaster from striking.

    When times are lean, it's a good time to look at your IT and figure out how to make it more effective. That might mean some cutting, but it more likely means project changes and staffing UP.

    A badly-run, sprawling, over-staffed IT department is a prime space to cut, but I've seen few of those. Even in those, cutting needs to be done very carefully and needs to be accompanied by money injected on projects which will make cutting safe. Those projects take time must be nurtured well before cuts are made.

    IT operations can be very expensive, in particular because it sometimes is lumped in with the desktop budget. But IT development is what makes IT operations cheaper, and just a few people can work miracles in IT development.

    If you're cut from an IT department during lean times, and you weren't clearly dead weight, you have the very small satisfaction of knowing that your layoff proves that your company wasn't particularly clever.

    • by cavtroop (859432) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:23AM (#24524705)

      The company I've been with for 3.5 years has done this, every year.

      When I got here, the IT department was huge, bloated, and mostly useless. The company realized this, fired the CIO, and laid off hundreds, including outsourcing large parts (such as desktop support). Surprisingly (or not so), things didn't get better, they got worse. They had no idea who to layoff, or why they were doing it, they just knew they were 'too large'. Cue 2nd CIO getting fired.

      3rd CIO comes on board. Another round of layoffs. Again, wrong people get let go. Now, we have a bloated (still) IT department, filled with mostly the wrong people. And the good people, at this point, are just keeping their heads down, hoping not to get the axe. So nothing productive is getting done, as everyone focuses on shoring up their jobs. Politics begin in earnest here, as everyone starts to panic.

      This cycle repeats itself 3 more times - yes, in 3+ years, we're on CIO #5. They just had another round of layoffs (the 3rd). This time, they nailed a bunch of the useless middle management, and some 'cabal leaders' that really needed to go. Even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then, I guess.

      I don't work for IT (I work closely with them), and I've had enough. I just found a new job, and am bailing out, while I can.

      What does this show? CxO's know that IT can be bloated/useless - but I don't have any confidence that they have a clue how to fix that, other than blanket layoffs, and bringing in 'management consultants'.

      It also shows that jobs are out there - I didn't have much trouble finding a job, once I got serious about my search. In one of the other comments in the thread (I can't find it at the moment), someone mentioned that the lower level IT jobs and maintenance jobs are the ones getting impacted. Thats OK, I think - it's the natural cycle. As the lower level stuff becomes routine, it can be done by lower and lower level people, or one person can do more of it. The trick here is growing your career at least as fast as the industry, so you can keep closer to the cutting edge, and have opportunities. I almost fell off that treadmill, glad to be back on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It also shows that jobs are out there - I didn't have much trouble finding a job, once I got serious about my search. In one of the other comments in the thread (I can't find it at the moment), someone mentioned that the lower level IT jobs and maintenance jobs are the ones getting impacted.

        I agree. We've been trying to hire two more people for a couple months now. A mid-level database developer and a mid-level .net web developer. So far every phone interview has lasted about 10 minutes with completely

    • by lorax (2988) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:27AM (#24524785)

      Every one says that about their specialty

      Advertising: Don't cut it, that's what brings the money in.

      Support: Don't cut it, it's cheaper to keep a customer than get a new one

      IT: Don't cut it, it improves productivity so you can cut elsewhere

      R&D: Don't cut it or we won't be competitive tomorrow

      HR: Don't cut it, now more than ever we need to attract and retain the best talent.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Nobody in particular likes to cut costs. Apart from obvious fat which is rare all around, you have to cut on something.

      Cut marketing? Less income.
      Cut salesmen? Less income.
      Cut production? WTF gotta deliver.
      Cut R&D? Peeing in your pants.
      Cut IT? They're your backbone.
      Cut management? Unmanaged mess.

      In reality, it's not that hard.
      Cut marketing and push brand name and cost cuts - customers get a lot more price sensitive in bad times.
      Cut sales where the market just doesn't carry, squeeze everything you can fr

  • Layoffs by Attrition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ipoverscsi (523760) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:56AM (#24524257)

    Layoffs by Attrition. That's what I like to call it when management reduces staff and increases workload on the remaining employees. They're not laying off personnel -- they're quitting! I guess this looks better to the investors because they're reducing costs yet not reporting layoffs. Of course, the result is that you end up with an understaffed and incompetent organization because the best and the brightest end up leaving first. After all, the good ones can readily find gainful employment in other companies that know how to treat their staff better.

  • by aphexcoil2 (878167) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:56AM (#24524277)
    I've worked in the IT/IS field for approximately ten years and in that time I've learned a lot of important things. The best in the field will always have jobs because they have learned to expand their skill sets to encompass the entire business objective. IT/IS is a tool for business, not many businesses make IT critical to their business plan. If you're in IT/IS right now, get more proactive in participating in business discussions by suggesting how IT can add value to the goals of that business. Unfortunately, a lot of people who end up within IT usually have poor social skills and even poorer communication skills. I've seen help-desk employees get visibily upset because a user didn't understand the difference between "the CPU box" and "the hard-drive." Guess what? Guess what? They're still at the help-desk talking down to people making only $20 an hour.
    • by swb (14022) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:28AM (#24524799)

      IT/IS is a tool for business, not many businesses make IT critical to their business plan. If you're in IT/IS right now, get more proactive in participating in business discussions by suggesting how IT can add value to the goals of that business.

      The cynic in me wants to know how you're supposed to get "more proactive" when the same morons who don't understand the difference between "the cpu and the hard drive" announce unilateral IT decisions made without consultation like "we need to all get Blackberries" when they ignore information about other key systems with problems.

      The problem is seldom lack of desire to participate, but decision makers who have no understanding of IT (besides wanting "shiny") and who choose to not include or consult with IT. Yes, you would think economic selection would filter out these kinds of executives, but we also thought economic selection wouldn't pay guys like Bob Nardelli $210 million in severance after ruining growth and depressing share prices.

      As an IT consultant, I generally get a seat at the table (or at least invited into the room partway into the discussions) because they pay dearly for me on an hourly basis and I was hired because someone had half an idea that IT was something to pay attention to. But even then, good IT decision making plays second fiddle to a whole host of other concerns that are seldom considered business critical (eg, shiny toys, inconveniences that would be experienced by favored employees, etc).

      The dipshit factor in IT I think has less to do with the inherent lack of social skills, but in the lack of respect the positions have within the organization. If you think it's not a valuable position, you don't pay for it and your don't hire for it as long as the job gets done to some minimal, keep-the-organization-going-standard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk (229616)

        Mod parent up. It takes two to tango, blaming the employees alone isn't going to get the problem solved. Employees DO need to keep their skills up to date, but it's pointless when employers are unable to appreciate those skills.

  • by FeatureBug (158235) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:58AM (#24524307)
    With the credit crunch, jobs and the economy still very much in the news, Network World [networkworld.com] is asking: Is it possible to have a recession-proof job? [networkworld.com] Perhaps surprisingly in the top slot is sales rep/business development.

    Submitted July 17th

  • India announced that it added 50,000 new jobs this year.
  • by AP31R0N (723649) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:15AM (#24524549)

    Start there and retrace your steps.

    IT, or maybe computers in general, have a hidden goal of making itself obsolete. As operating systems, software and hardware become more stable, the need for IT workers declines. At my previous position, i set turned a gaggle of workgroups into a tidy domain. i installed a power AV system. As i helped users, i showed them how to solve problems on there own (reboot, try again). Soon, i had much less work to do. Being laid off in this case was a matter of economics, than obsolescence, but the trend remains. i was making myself less necessary.

    IT depts are pretty much pure overhead. Companies have IT staff because they need a wizard to heal the sick computers. IT generally doesn't bring in money for the company (at least not directly).

    - Waxing Sci-Fi -
    Over a long enough time line, maybe we'll make machines that make us obsolete. Our technology could be a step of evolution. We might exist to bring create our replacements.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:20AM (#24524639)

    A friend of mine is looking for a Network Admin for his company (he's having a hard time finding a candidate - even with a decent salary offering). He is their current Network Admin, and desktop support guy - but these are not his primary responsibilities. He is supposed to be on the road setting up equipment for clients - not managing servers and workstations.

    He's been doing two jobs for years because he could do them, and the company didn't want to hire "another guy".

    My friend finally had enough - he told top management to either double his salary, or hire another guy. They are finally looking for a network admin, but they also need the guy to be able to setup audio/video/computer gear for their large rental clients.

    They want a guy with a wide skill set, not just a "server guy" that will lock himself in a server room and never participate in other parts of the business. I was actually offered the job, but I'm already in a good spot.

    I see this a lot. Companies want technical people with more than one or two skills - and that is hard to find. Pure "IT" jobs are going away - they are being replaced with IT jobs that also include other tasks and responsibilities.

    -ted

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:21AM (#24524669)

    Sorry if there any errors, or omissions, I am trying to be accurate. A lot has happend in a little over a week.

    The following takes place between July 29th and August 7th:

    August 07, 2008:
    Judge rejects student visa injunction sought by H-1B opponents
    Tech workers don't have standing to fight Bush administration visa move
    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9111963 [computerworld.com]

    August 07, 2008:
    Jobless claims surge to highest level in 6 years
    http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/07/news/economy/jobless_benefits.ap/index.htm?cnn=yes [cnn.com]

    August 06, 2008:
    Bureau of Labor Statistics reports big drop in tech jobs
    Almost 50,000 IT positions lost in last 12 months
    http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/07/news/economy/jobless_benefits.ap/index.htm?cnn=yes [cnn.com]

    Aug 06,2008:
    Yet another visa, this one allows 5000 Koreans to work in the USA each year
    http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200808/200808060014.html [chosun.com]

    August 06, 2008:
    Apple sued over treatment of it's tech workers
    http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/08/06/apple-gets-sued-indentured [theinquirer.net]

    August 05, 2008:
    Bogus diploma ring busted
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/content/education/chi-diploma-mill-04-aug04,0,2164133.story [chicagotribune.com]

    August 03, 2008:
    July marks seventh consecutive month of job loses
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/46146.html [mcclatchydc.com]

    August 02, 2008:
    Sun to cut between 1000 to 2500 jobs
    http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2008/08/01/sun-us-tech-market-wont-shine-soon/ [wsj.com]

    August 01, 2008:
    Gartner's grim IT hiring outlook
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/careers/?p=140 [zdnet.com]

    August 01, 2008:
    Feds charges man for H1-B fraud
    http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_visa01.47edb3e.html# [pe.com]

    Jul 31, 2008:
    More than 3.7 million Americans had full-time jobs chopped to part time
    the largest figure since the government began tracking such data more than half a century ago.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/31/business/economy/31jobs.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin [nytimes.com]

    July 31, 2008:
    Layoffs set for 22,000 California state workers
    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_10046324 [mercurynews.com]

    July 30, 2008:
    WTO Doha talks collapse
    India's backdoor attempt to allow more H-1Bs into the USA failed, for now
    http://www.economicpopulist.org/?q=content/why-you-should-be-thrilled-wto-doha-talks-collapsed [economicpopulist.org]

    July 30, 2008:
    NY gov slashes spending; state said in "recession"
    http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN3032764920080730?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0 [reuters.com]

    July 30, 2008:
    China trade has cost 2.3 million U.S. jobs
    http://www.reuters.com/article/politic [reuters.com]

    • Wish I hadn't posted so I could mod you up. Very good. Thanks for posting this.

      I do see that there is a surge of demand in certain skill sets and a sharp decrease in others. For example, seasoned developers (PHP and Java guys I've talked to) seem to be in demand right now while sys admins, network admins, testers, help desk, analysts, and managers are seeing all time lows in demand. I'm basing this on impromptu "research" using indeed.com and keyword searching job ads and using their graphing feature. So I'

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:25AM (#24524743) Homepage Journal

    When they release unemployment figures, there are a variety of reasons those numbers are just false. I know quite a few people who "lost their jobs" only to incorporate a small sole proprietorship, and they're considered unemployed, even though they're earning more money.

    Also, when it comes to IT downsizing, a very large corporation in my neck of the woods fired a handful of their IT staff (cutting their department in half). All those guys jumped into business for themselves, some uniting together to start a larger shop. They've even gone back to their old job as contractors.

    Yes, IT is more competitive than ever, but it is also a field that has matured greatly. When I started my IT shop at the age of 15ish, I had very little work since the field was young (1989) in terms of what I was strong at. By 18, our business grew in leaps and bounds. Recently, we've seen some work slow down, but we've opened new fields to manage and the company is stronger than ever. I'd love to hire more people, but our business model works better with subcontractors than it does employees. Some people here know me as the guy who pays employees minimum wage, and that is still the case. I'd pay them $2 per hour if I could, and I know my employees would rather earn $2 per hour and a 70% job bonus than earn $31 per hour with no bonus. The cream rises to the top.

    We did a small market survey in a new market about 50 miles north of our current one, and the response was surprising: nearly 30% of the people we contacted wanted more information. In the IT field, this is equal to "We'll hire you, what's the price?" I then did a quick survey of competition, and found very little. There is a HUGE amount of IT work available, if you're ready and willing to shrug off the old way of doing things.

    Like the horse-shoer, we may be in an industry where the demand is not as great, which means one thing: lower your prices. It sucks, I know. I know many people who still are burdened with college debt who see the writing on the wall and are scared. I feel bad for them, but that's how the free market operates. When supply (of labor) goes up and demand (for labor) goes down, prices tend to fall.

    Yet in the top tiers of the IT market, the pay rates for contractors has gone way up in the last 3 years, if you have a good amount of experience, many positive references, and a strong marketing budget. For us, marketing accounts for close to 8% of our gross expenses. If you're not branding your company, you're not going far. If you're not working on FIRING customers who are slow pay or complainers, and REPLACING them with decent customers, you're dead.

    Here's a little clue for those in IT who are fearing their jobs: get people skills. Rebrand yourself as a confident business consultant rather than a geek. I know it sucks, but it helps acquire the confidence of current and future customers if you're business-oriented rather than tech-oriented. No one who pays your bill, generally, cares about tech. They care about efficiency, profitability, longevity, and stability. The tech backend means nothing, it's the eyewash you provide that gets you repeat business.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:35AM (#24524925)

    We have all heard the same so-called "free trade" arguments hundreds of times: off-shore IT workers are needed to make up for labor shortages, and that is how free trade works. Anybody who disputes that is called anti-capitalism, and therefore anti-American.

    Thing is, in truly free market place, such sustained labor shortages can not possibly exist. In fact, the very idea does not even make sense. In a truly free market: if demand starts to exceed supply, then prices will go up, which will cause supply will go up with the prices, thereby leveling out the equation.

    For example: if there were a shortage of PHP developers, then wages for PHP developers would go, thereby attracting more PHP developers. A long term shortage would be impossible.

    If something drastic, sudden, and unexpected, were to happen, then there could be a short-term shortage. But, let me emphasize that such occurrences would be extremely rare, and very short-term. A flood of six year visas, year after year, would certainly not be needed.

    Also, McCain's claim that Americans would not pick lettuce for $50 an hour is unbelivably stupid, and verifiable untrue - put an ad on craigslist if you don't believe me. Americans will do almost anything if you pay them enough, watch that "Dirty Jobs" series if you don't believe me.

  • by higg (11739) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:56AM (#24525293) Homepage

    ... unless I'm reading something wrong (which can't possibly be!).

    Table B-1 linked to from the original article (and at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t14.htm [bls.gov] for those wanting to go directly there) shows that "Computer System Design and Related" (under "Professional and Business Services") increased by 52K jobs over the last year. "Management and Technical Consulting Services" jobs increased by 72K jobs over the last year. There were also increases in both of these categories for the month of July.

    So while overall IT jobs may have decreased, the high value (and high salary!) jobs that are difficult to offshore have increased.

    Am I reading this correctly?

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:59AM (#24525343) Journal

      Those high value jobs you speak of generally require experience. Experienced gained in the lower tiers, which are the one's being outsourced.

      How does one qualify for one of those jobs if one can not get the required experience?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zarf (5735)

      I'd anecdotally concur with what you've seen. My skills haven't been in this much demand since the crash. However, my skills have improved drastically in the last few years... so it may be that I got lucky and hit a sweet spot of demand+skills. In short, it looks like "traditional" IT is in trouble but the folks who saw the trends coming and got themselves ready for the changes are doing well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by walterbyrd (182728)

      You have to take both sides of the equation into account - both demand and supply. The bls report only accounts for demand.

      Guest workers are flooding into the USA and replacing US IT workers by the tens of thousands. And the situation will get much worse in the near future.

      There have been several "backdoor" efforts to drastically increase the number of guest workers in the USA. Such as the WTO Doha talks, which fortunately collapsed, for now. Also the new OPT visa.

      More importantly, both presidential candida

  • A vicious cycle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plopez (54068) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:05AM (#24525481) Journal

    Where do you get skilled workers? From a pool of experienced people with a good track record. How do they they get get experience and references? By taking entry level positions and working their way up. What is happening to entry level jobs? They are being axed and sent oversees or taken by H1B visa holders who cannot freely change jobs and move up the ladder.

    Seriously, these companies are cannibalizing themselves. Tehy are destroying their own recruiting pool.

  • by plopez (54068) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:17AM (#24525753) Journal

    The U1 is the most commonly reported number. But there is a U6 number which counts people who do not show up at employment centers (most of which are a joke BTW), are working temporary jobs, pasting together 2-3 part-times jobs or discouraged and not looking. The U6 is now at about 10.3%. Anecdotally I have met EE's and programmers working temp jobs to try to get by.
    http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab12.htm [bls.gov]

    Also, companies whine and bitch about not being able to find qualified workers. But due to ageism, workers over 40 often have a hard time finding work, regardless of education, certs, experience etc. This is do that companies do not have to pay more salary and benefits for skilled workers.

    http://management.silicon.com/careers/0,39024671,39168214,00.htm [silicon.com]

  • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:46AM (#24526335)

    The Achilles' heel of IT industry is the fact that it doesn't scale. There is only room at the top, not the middle or low end of the economic job range for IT workers. The only people who get family-wage paying jobs are 'the best of the best of the best, sir! as you recall from the first Men In Black movie.

      Other more mature industries can provide jobs for a wide range of people with aptitudes and and skills. But the IT industry (and to a lesser extent, the electronics industry) can only provide good jobs for the upper 5% of the graduates from good tech schools. This is why the so-called industry leaders can decry the lack of top talent and at the same time lay-off thousands of skilled and experienced mid-level mid-career technicians (software techs like testers and standard code-from-algorithm writers and hardware pot tweekers).

        This is a defect in the industry: it doesn't scale. It's a primary reason why young people are not entering the profession in the way that they did twenty years ago.

        Don't nit pick me on this. There's a whole book in each of the above paragraphs. But they're basically true.

        Now I know that you don't care because if you're on Slashdot, you are the B of the B of the B, sahr! But no matter how good you are, or your ranking in the Grade Point Angel hierarchy, this inability to provide good jobs for a wide-range of workers is beginning to seriously impact the industry.

        This isn't such a major issue in a place where people are actually making things for sale, a place that still has a manufacturing sector. Manufacturing by its economic structure provides a wide range of fairly good jobs. In this area you can go from an entry-level 'move things around' low-paying position to a mid-level design and test position with a two-year degree or the same period of study.

        But when the IT industry allows all the manufacturing to be relocated to cheap labor countries it destroys its foundation. Information and data processing has little economic value by itself; only in conjunction with other productive industries does it create its economic wealth.

        It might be well to sometimes stop thinking like a programmer and to sometimes think like an economist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by walterbyrd (182728)

      The funny thing is, when employers hire guest workers, they seem to use a completely different standard. Most guest workers are here right of college, and they fill entry level positions.

      I have seen it many times: a company wants to hire a sysadmin, and they have an list of experience requirements a mile long. But, the same company is over-joyed to give the job to a guest worker with zero experience.

  • by MikeURL (890801) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:59AM (#24526589) Journal
    I remember the flip side of this when it was virtually impossible to get AND keep a decent programmer for more than 6 months. Inevitably some other opportunity would pop up that was better. At the height of the dot-com boom our IT dept was like a revolving door.

    Things absolutely have changed. We now have many long term IT people and new hires tend to stay longer. This had contributed a LOT to our ability to follow projects through to the end. I don't know how much this type of situation is being replicated around the nation. I do know that continuity in the IT staff is important to us.

    I suppose there are some IT jobs that can be outsourced but there are many that cannot. Many positions call for a person who understands the industry and can sit in meetings and be part of the planning process. Not every project can be specified and then farmed out for coding. Oftentimes the process is an iterative one where what is practical is determined by people working as a team. That is tough if your "co-workers" are still sleeping.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by walterbyrd (182728)

      Many jobs that can not be outsourced are being filled by the flood of guest workers coming into the USA every year. And the situation is sure to get much worse. Bill Gates is pushing for an unlimited number of H-1B guest workers, and both presidential candidates strongly favor an increase in guest worker visas. There are many scams going on right now to bring in more guest workers though the backdoor, such as the OPT visa, and WTO Doha talks.

  • contrarian anedotes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peter303 (12292) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:39AM (#24527443)
    1) Inforamtion Week reports market is still strong.

    2) I attend our area's open source and Java user groups occasionally. There always seems to be more recruiters than attendees (as recent as Tuesday). At least we get free pizza dinner out of it.

    3) Our company has had a hard time recruiting graphics and Java wizards. Many recs still open.

    4) On the monthly mailing from SIGGRAPH/Creative Heads there are 300 openings for graphics wizards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nakajoe (1123579)
      I think part of the issue is that the openings are for "wizards." There are a lot of us who aren't at that level yet, and find it hard to get there without any intermediate jobs available...
  • by Robert Oak (825570) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:43AM (#24527517) Homepage
    While we have these damning unemployment statistics, two events have happened. Guest worker Visas said ok by US trade representative [economicpopulist.org]. Congress Reacts to Soaring Unemployment by Passing more guest worker Visas [economicpopulist.org]. Clearly our government is strongly trying to displace and sell out United States citizen professional workers. Believe it and weep Americans.
  • by recharged95 (782975) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:45AM (#24527547) Journal

    IT jobs in India and China gained by 100000, and that IT support calls are averaging twice as long to complete comapred to last year.

  • From Table B-1: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:13PM (#24528045) Homepage

    Computer systems design and
            related services............ 1,369.0 1,407.3 1,414.3 1,421.7 1,366.8 1,391.3 1,403.9 1,408.9 1,412.2 1,419.3 7.1

    There's also growth in "management and technical consulting", and "architectural and engineering services". (no idea if software engineering is grouped in that line)

    I think InfoWeek is misunderstanding what constitutes the "information industry". It isn't IT people:

    Information..................... 3,041 3,011 3,022 2,993 3,027 3,013 3,007 3,002 2,996 2,983 -13
        Publishing industries, except
          Internet..................... 902.0 876.7 878.5 876.5 898.7 882.9 882.8 879.7 877.0 873.6 -3.4
        Motion picture and sound
          recording industries......... 386.3 388.2 396.8 381.8 377.9 383.0 382.5 380.9 380.2 375.5 -4.7
        Broadcasting, except Internet. 326.0 321.4 320.2 320.5 325.1 322.5 320.8 321.2 319.8 320.2 .4
        Telecommunications............ 1,026.8 1,018.4 1,021.2 1,013.2 1,026.6 1,020.1 1,018.0 1,017.7 1,018.1 1,012.9 -5.2
        Data processing, hosting and
          related services............. 273.1 275.8 273.5 269.9 272.8 272.3 272.2 272.1 271.3 270.5 -.8
        Other information services.... 127.1 130.4 131.3 130.9 126.3 131.9 130.7 130.1 130.0 130.2 .2

    With the exception of, perhaps, Telecomm companies, there's no reason to infer that those are even IT jobs. When a book publisher cuts an editor, that's an "information" job.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:53PM (#24528787)

    FWIW: I have worked in IT for 28 years. I have worked for several major US corporations, and in several different specializations. This is where I see IT heading:

    In the near future, IT will be an outsourced serviced, like janitorial work. The outsource companies will hire both off-shore workers, and on-site workers. The on-site workers will mainly be guest workers from the same country as the off-shore workers. The lower level managers will also come from the same country, and the outsource companies themselves will often come from the same country. This will create a homogeneous, and insulated environment within IT. Everybody within IT, off-shore or on-site, will speak the same language, and come from the same culture. The IT workers will be moved around so they can get experience in the USA as guest workers, then they will be sent back off-shore to work for lower wages.

    The reason it will happen like this is because it is significantly cheaper for the employers.

    If you happen to be a US IT worker, be prepared to train your replacement. Also be prepared to listen to a lot of slogans like: "US and Indian workers proudly working together to achieve a common goal" before you get the boot.

    Of course, there will be some exceptions, like jobs that require a security clearance. But, for the most part, the demand for US IT workers in nearly zero.

  • by SnapperHead (178050) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:57PM (#24534257) Homepage Journal

    I think part of the problem is that right now, the market is flooded with under skilled techies. The company I work for was looking for a good DBA for over 8 months and none turned up. Then, after our DBA left I was bumped up to the position. Instead, we are now looking for a system admin to pick up on what I don't have time for anymore. They are easier to come by, but not by much. We have interviewed countless people and they all come up short.

    The same goes for our engineering staff. Countless people interviewed and most of them just flat out suck. Sorry, but just because you have a degree that won't buy you much without strong job experience. If we wanted newbies, they are a dime a dozen.

    If you are skilled (and in the right part of the country) you can get work very easily. I had a friend who accidentally made her resume public and got calls for weeks on end. (Keep in mind, it was only public for a day or so)

    Based on what I have seen and friends telling me, it seems like a lot of companies are trimming down their departments as small as they can make them. Employing more jack of all trades types rather then a larger department of specialists.

Old programmers never die, they just hit account block limit.

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