Whoops! There Goes My Job
Techies and IT people are very happy these days, as well they should be. It isn’t job utopia, because there are still plenty of experienced IT pros out of work. For the most part, however, the job picture is nothing to complain about. This is not breaking news. It’s been this way for several months now, and I’ve written about it before. But I’ve also been a profit of gloom. Doomsday is not on the horizon, but darker days may be ahead if you’re not on top of market realities. Human beings have a way of fooling themselves and believing that because things are good at this very moment, they will stay that way.
There is something to say for the Buddhist “living in the moment” philosophy, but it’s also very dangerous if you expect to stay on top of your game. There’s more to the Buddhist doctrine, however. It goes on to say that we are accountable for our actions until the end of our lives.
Apply that notion to your career, and you’ll start making smart decisions and logical assumptions about your future. A short while ago, I posed this question: What will you do if the economy turns sour? Anything is possible, but a likely scenario is that U.S. companies will become so backlogged with projects that they’ll have no choice but to outsource and offshore their IT operations just to meet their production deadlines.
That’s largely because there is a shortage of qualified technology candidates to fill all the available jobs. Following the 2001 economic downturn, IT enrollment in colleges and universities fell dramatically. Since then, high school and college advisers have been doing a miserable job of luring young people back into technology programs.
In 2006, there were 7,798 undergraduate IT majors in the field, compared with 15,958 in 2000, according to The Computing Research Association, which has tracked enrollment in computer programs at four-year universities since 1974. As Mark Roberts, CEO of the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, said in a recent eWeek magazine story, “Tech just ain’t cool.” And parents aren’t encouraging their kids to go into technology, he added.
The result is that the demand for IT people is so strong, companies are outsourcing and offshoring their IT projects. And it’s only going to get worse. A 2007 Deloitte CEO Consulting survey said that CEOs are increasingly turning to overseas talent to compensate for the shortage of qualified workers. About 45 percent of respondents said that they are currently offshoring, and 55 percent said they are planning to offshore in the next five years.
Quoting Roberts again, “If we don’t have the people, the work will get pushed offshore. One way or another, companies will get their projects done. “ That’s a pity, because there is no better time to enter the IT field. If you’re thinking about a career change, you can’t go wrong with virtually anything connected with technology. While enrollments are not likely to return to 2000 levels, the good news is that more students are taking advantage of online technical degree programs. For the academic year, there was a slight uptick in the number of freshmen declaring computer science as a major.
Until recently, many of the snobby Ivy League schools have thumbed their noses at online degree programs. But more top schools are offering them. StanfordUniversity, for example, offers online master’s degrees in certain sciences. It’s time that we got off our high horses and gave the first-rate, acclaimed online programs the credit they deserve. The University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit online school, has been offering a raft of technical degree programs for several years.
Here’s some sound advice for senior and junior IT workers: Don’t assume you’ll remain employable. Because technology is constantly changing, there’s a good chance your skills will be obsolete if you don’t update them regularly. The only way to stay on top of your field is to take courses, enroll in training programs, get career-enhancing certifications--and do whatever else it takes to remain a hot property. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t. At the rate we’re going, if we don’t meet industry’s insatiable appetite for technical candidates, thousands of good IT jobs will be shipped overseas. And they’re not likely to come back so quickly.
Tags: Jobs Employer Job Trends Loosing Job