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CPST: Outlook for IT professionals in USA grim

•  Recession Effects: Employment has been declining since reaching peak levels in 2000; levels of joblessness shot up from 1.9 percent in 1999, to 3.6 percent in 2001, 4.3 percent in 2002, and an average of 5.9 percent for the first two quarters in 2003. 

•  Immigration Trends: During the past decade, the share of foreign-born persons in the IT workforce has doubled and use of L-1 visas for foreign employees of multinational businesses has tripled. 

•  Higher Education: The number of new bachelor's students in computer science jumped 40% in 1995-96, after a 5% increase the previous year, leading to record numbers of new degrees in IT disciplines through 2001-2002 academic year, according to the Computing Research Association. 

•  Outsourcing: Outsourcing of IT work to foreign locations has quadrupled. Outsourced transactions in technical work have grown from $300 million in 1995 to over $1.2 billion in 2001 . 

You can read the full report at: http://www.cpst.org/ITWF_Press.htm (free registration required)

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, September 18, 2003

... thus demonstrating the old adge, "lies, damned lies, and statistics". 

That aside, I've seen some assertions that the L1 visa program is the real culprit when it comes to unfair employment practices (of cheap foreign labour) in the US, not the H1B program.

I'm wondering, is this true? I'm sure it would be a real pain in the butt for me to get a H1B (I have looked in the past, and it didn't seem easy - but then, I'm a Westerner and have no interest in working for a bodyshop), so I can't see it being easier for anyone else. But the L1 is a whole different ballgame - or is it?

Burninator
Thursday, September 18, 2003

L1 is a significant factor in corporate abuse of visas now, but this seems to have been a deliberate attempt by Indian firms to avoid the controversy over H1-B abuse. They used to use H1-B's; then they quietly switched to thousands and thousands of L1's.

If nothing else, that says heaps.

analyst
Thursday, September 18, 2003

"The number of H-1B visas for initial employment in technology industries fell from 105,692 in 2001 to 27,199 in 2002, according to an annual report on the program released this month by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics. "
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/6800411.htm

Anon
Thursday, September 18, 2003

www.h1bvisasucks.com

Born-In-The-USA
Thursday, September 18, 2003

I just don't get this 'issue'.

Quadrupled outsourcing could mean anything.  How about 0.1% to 0.4%??? (Hyperbole; perhaps it was...)

The CIO magazine that recently talked about outsourcing showed a projection of outsourced projects to be 8% in 2010.

EIGHT PERCENT - big farking deal? And that is seven years away.

I am sick of the anecdotes about people committing suicide because they have to train their foreign counterparts to do their job.

I am young and I only have experience with Microsoft products for about 5 years. I am not looking hard, and I have had three job interviews in 5 weeks that were all “real” jobs.

I am not a wizard. Jobs with small companies are all over the place. I have turned down two contracts in the last month because I just don’t have the time.

I am not special, and I haven’t even started to look HARD for a job. I have COMPLETELY IGNORED the newspaper and the job boards.

The real fruit is in networking with various groups, and referring the projects I can’t take to others that are looking for work. Months later they have starting calling me.

Chin up people. It isn't totally ugly out there just yet...

--
ee

eclectic_echidna
Thursday, September 18, 2003

"I am young and I only have experience with Microsoft products for about 5 years."
This says all about it.
20 years from now the technologies will have changed, you will have changed (tired of learning everything everytime; family ?), etc. So refrain from saying that everything is alright for everybody.

Dewd
Thursday, September 18, 2003

"20 years from now the technologies will have changed, you will have changed (tired of learning everything everytime; family ?), etc. So refrain from saying that everything is alright for everybody."

Sorry to sound arrogant, but if you're tired of learning, get the HECK out of this profession. IT&CS was always, and will for the forseeable future, be about learning and applying new things quickly.

If you can't be bothered to keep your skills honed, do something else that doesn't change quickly.

That's not to say outsourcing is not a problem - but this "I don't wanna learn no more" attitude is *really* bothersome.

- Robert

Groby
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Not just this profession - *every* profession is about learning new things. Lawyers in many states have mandatory continuing education requirements, I'd be surprised if doctors didn't as well. I'm sure auto mechanics has changed a wee bit in the last ten years...

"Live and learn. Or you don't live long"
-Lazarus Long

Philo

Philo
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Is there something like a cowboy learner as there is for a cowboy coder ?

Dewd
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Just seems like the free market to me.  Glad to see people in India improving their livelyhood through IT. 

(I seriously doubt any claims that the outsourced work is done in "sweat shops")

Mark
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Check out "Economic Sophisms" by Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850).

Globalism isn't fun for the individual
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Personally I find it quite irritating to hear about the apparent need of companines to seek help outside the country or to bring help in. Say it like it is: we want to reduce costs by any means and outsourcing and bringing in foreign workers seems to work for us. Don't say that there are no local people with the ability to do the work, rather, say : there are no local people who will work as cheap as other people in other countries. You have to wonder about the people they bring in. Certainly the wages must be comparable but I really don't know. If any of you have seen the job descriptions you have to admit no honest person should apply for those jobs, but if there are people selling people from abroad, they'll probably, yeah, I'm talking the real world, claim these people can do all that and more. And of course no one ever verifies or would even know how to verify and of course the person cannot possibly do all that the job description requires but when you don't know what you want just ask for everything I guess. The only problem I have with this whole thing are the people blowing smoke.

me
Thursday, September 18, 2003

There are a huge number of students in Computing Science/Engineering - I recently visited a university in western Canada - UBC.

Those guys have tons of students in the Masters program for software engineering / computer science.

Lots of these folks come from other disciplines. Not sure what two years of Masters will teach them.

My employers produces software used heavily in academia - so sometimes they let me out of the cubicle and I visit the Universities and have a chance to chat with students/faculty.

One thing I noticed, and by no means this is a scientific sample size study, is that students are taught technologies that are cycles away from what is used in the commercial environment.

As PhD once student once mentioned, in a candid moment, he satrted studying in 1989 with a Bachelor, did two years Masters and in 1995 started his PhD.

He is planning to graduate this semester - in the years he has been in University, web based applications passed him by.

He is hoping to teach in a college or University. His PhD is in LISP controls for machines.

Ram Dass
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Just before I went to University in 1970 I saw a job for a school leaver adverrises in a local Northern accountancy firm. They were asking for straight A's (and this was the time beofre grade inflation when even Oxbridge entrants rarely had three straight A's) but the starting salary, for a school leaver without one day of experience, was 40% more than a teacher would have got after three years of college and one year's PGCE.

Surprisingly enough I doubt if they got anybody. The really bright at that time were less likely to go into accountancy than to voluntarily enroll for a concentration camp, but it gives you an idea of the demand for accountants in the UK at that time.

Four years later one of my friends, who was a straight A, guy left university and decided to become an accountant. In the meanwhile the market had been flooded with accounting wannabe's, all with degrees in accountancy (which in 1970 was the second most diffiicult subject to get into university to study after English Literature) who decided that was where the money was. He got a job with an American Multintaional, but in London and paying a lower starting salary in real terms than he would have got as a school leaver in Manchester four years before. And the recruiter told him it was good he had a degree in the Natural Sciences and not Accountancy, because his company reckoned that anybody stupid enough to waste the three best years of their life studying Accountancy wasn't the kind of person they wanted to hire.

We are seeing exactly the same thing with people flocking to computer science. Until 2001, this was where the jobs were, and plenty of people with little talent spent, and still are spending, hundreds of hours memorizing concepts they don't fully understand in order to get the crock of gold that was emptied three or four years ago. And of courese, as they have no real vocation, they take longer to get the degree than anybody else.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Hi Stephen:

Nice analogy - with the accounting industry.

There are two regions in Western Canada that are in my sales support turf - Alberta and BC. So I am not sure if the below is relevant to the whole of Canada.

From what I hear, the University gets big breaks from the government the more IT students they have.

Also new IT graduates in companies, will have their salaries subsidized by the government up to to a certain %/amount for a maximum of two years.

This creates an unnatural demand for IT. And in the long term reduces the value for the skill set. Also employees when they pass through the subsize phase are laid off by their employers.

Although employers cannot legally ask for new graduates in order to apply for the above subsidy, they do so in a covert manner.

PhD students and Professors have their research funded by a branch of the Canadian government. I think this also skewers the market value of research - i.e. there is less chance that the research has a commercial value. 

Ram Dass
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Re the reference to the number of H1-B visas falling, there is a much larger pool issued outside the recorded figures and not recorded.

Second, eclectic_echidna, projections are for up to 3 million jobs going over the next 10 years, predominantly in IT. Now, the entire IT workforce is only between 3 and 10 million, depending on definitions. Let me tell you what that will do to your pay rate. Cleaning toilets will pay better.

You say 8 percent offshoring is not a big deal. Even that figure is massive. The effect is exponential. Those displaced 8 percent of people then compete for the declining number of jobs.

Also, you say you're doing fine and are young. Young people are cheaper than more experienced people. Issues of capability aside for this discussion, the allegation has been for some time that H1-B fraud was intended as a way for employers to avoid having to hire experienced programmers.

analyst
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Unless there is some insane growth that pumps up the IT industry, I hate to say it , but the writing is on the wall folks.  The last developer in the U.S., please turn out the lights.

christopher baus
Friday, September 19, 2003

What about this aspect: My company has some 150+ developers (professionals, university degree, avg. age 30ys), their contracts say weekly work pensum is 40hrs. In fact it is 50+. But the execs refuse to employ more workers because (1) they know they can get those 10+ hours unpaid, and (2) they want to play this game for some more months or years so you'll have an abundant workforce market and lower salaries.

Now comes (3) In Germany there's hardly any trainee programs/apprenticeships/qualification offered by companies in the IT sector. 5 to 10 percent of comp.sc. graduates are looking for jobs. Right now there's some 4000+ advertised jobs in the IT industry in the whole country. We have some 3000+ unemployed greencard Indians. But the IT industry is crying for more greencard programs, and actually encouraging school-leavers to go study comp.sc.

Bottom line: Higher potential workforce = lower salaries.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, September 19, 2003

Mature professions - teaching, law, medicine, journalism - are well aware that having too many people lowers pay rates, and they have professional bodies that would have stepped in at the first instance and clobbered deceitful managements that tried it on.

To its credit, the IEEE has stepped up the plate and is starting to fight. Many other groups are active too.

In a lot of countries, though, you will find that the organisations that say they represent "IT professionals" were actually dumb enough to go along with the claims that there were desperate shortages. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Only recently have they started to finally understand what the role of professional organisations actually is.


Friday, September 19, 2003

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