In a message dated 11/5/2004 1:23:49 AM Central Standard Time, matloff@cs.ucdavis.edu writes:

To: H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter

Enclosed below is one of the best pieces I've seen on the decline of IT
in the U.S. I especially like the title, "What to Tell the Kids," since
as a computer science professor I must wrestle with that question every
day.

As any reader of this e-newsletter knows, I believe that, between
H-1B/L-1 and offshoring, the American programmer will mostly become
extinct in the coming years. Note carefully that what I really mean by
that is that there will be very few opportunities for technical careers
for computer science graduates in the coming years. Some may become
system or database administrators, but that's pretty much all there will
be. And even a lot of those jobs are already taken by H-1Bs. Recall,
for instance, that the lawsuits brought by Guy Santiglia against Sun
Microsystems revolved around Sun's hiring of H-1Bs as system
administrators, and laying off people like Santiglia from those
positions.

The author is to be commended for her frankness. I do have two
criticisms, though:

* The column states correctly that there are fewer programming jobs
today. Unfortunately, in terms of globalism, it only cites the
effects of offshoring, and does not mention H-1B/L-1 at all. I
still believe that as of today, H-1B/L-1 is a much bigger problem
than offshoring. I gave some data on that in my CACM article which
I posted the other day (http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/CACM.pdf),
and in fact there is some similar data in the very same issue of
Computerworld in which the enclosed column ran: According to a
Meta Group survey, 55% of firms don't send IT work offshore; 8%
send 10-30% offshore; 33% send 5% offshore; and 4% send up to 50%
offshore. (http://www.computerworld.com/managementtopics/outsourcing/
story/0,10801,96710,00.html) That would work out to about 5% of
all IT work being offshored (though once again, it's not clear
what they count as "IT").

* The column suggests several career types which will still be open
to CS graduates in the future. Some of these are rather technical,
others aren't. Let's concentrate on the technical ones. The
column does not back up its point by laying out career paths for
such jobs, and I am skeptical that such paths exist. The jobs
suggested by the column are not the type one would get fresh out
of school. Such jobs require intimate knowledge of computers
gained by experience, and traditionally that experience has come
through programming jobs. Without programming jobs, where would
people get the experience to eventually get this kind of job? A
partial answer to that question would again be work as a system
administrator, but as I said, such opportunities are limited. So
, although the job types cited might work out in the short term
for today's laid-off programmers, I doubt that it will be much
of an option in the long term.

If you want to know what I personally "tell the kids," see
http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/ucdcs.pdf That is a presentation that
a few times a year to high school seniors and their parents. The short
answer is that under certain circumstances CS grads might get technical
work (being able to STAY in a technical career for a reasonable length
of time is another story), but they should keep their options open.
They may end up simply getting a "generic," i.e. non-IT, job in a
setting in which their IT knowledge is a plus, but in which they will
seldom make much direct technical use of that knowledge. That is not
enough for many, if not most, CS students. Recall how one of them put
it: "If I'm going to end up with an Econ-type job, I might as well
major in Econ [and not have to stay up all night debugging my homework
programs]."

Norm

http://www.computerworld.com/careertopics/careers/story/0,10801,96672,00.html

Opinion by Barbara Gomolski

OCTOBER 18, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - A group of colleagues and I were
talking during a conference call the other day about the IT job
market. Many of us have kids who are starting to think about colleges
and professions. Someone asked the group, "Would you advise your kid
to go into IT today?" The majority of people on the call said no. This
is just anecdotal evidence of what is blatantly obvious to most of us:
The job market for IT professionals isn't what it used to be.

Let me be clear. The tenor of that recent call with my colleagues was
not totally negative toward IT careers. Many of the people on the call
said they wouldn't discourage their kids' interest in IT. These
parents would strongly caution their children about their course of
study, however. They would advise their kids to be very clear about
what they wanted to do in IT rather than just assume that their
computer science degrees would open all doors.

To be sure, there are fewer IT positions available today than there
were just five years ago if we consider traditional IT roles, such as
infrastructure management, support and programming. What's more, the
jobs that are available in IT increasingly require skills that aren't
taught as part of the computer science curriculum. This is in stark
contrast to when I graduated from college. All the computer science
majors I knew had secured high-paying jobs at Fortune 100 firms prior
to graduation.

But the changes in the IT job market affect all IT professionals, not
just those new to the field. So, what are the chief differences today?
Here's how I see it:

* The days of studying computer science, getting an entry-level job
as a programmer and moving up the IT ladder are gone. First of
all, there are fewer programming jobs available now, because of
offshore outsourcing.
Second, we can no longer assume that a general computer science
degree is going to prepare graduates for the IT job market.
Certainly, some firms are still hiring new talent through the
programming ranks, but this process is not nearly as common as it
used to be.
* As a result of automation and the spread of consumer IT, we don't
need as many people as we once did to manage IT systems.
Technology is more standardized, and end users are more familiar
with technology.
* The increasing pace of business, industry consolidation and
globalization means that most of us will move from company to
company during our careers. All professionals -- not just those in
IT -- will gather the skills they need from multiple employers.

The IT job market is not all bad news, though. There are opportunities
in certain areas, and even growth. Here are some of them:

Business process design and management. Business process design --
something IT has always been expert at -- is starting to surface as a
new competency for IT professionals. Their prowess at process design
comes from getting to see entire business processes as they build IT
systems. Enterprising IT professionals are capitalizing on this by
driving process improvement in their own organizations and making
process design and management a key part of their jobs.

Information management. Companies are generating more and more data
about their customers, partners and competitors. Organizations are
going to need individuals who can help turn this data into usable
information. This includes experts in customer relationship
management, business intelligence and search technologies.

Relationship and vendor management. As the multisourced IT environment
has gained ground, it has become clear that IT organizations need
people who can negotiate and manage contracts and who can help select
and manage IT service provider partners.

Finally, traditional IT jobs (such as programming and infrastructure
management) are not going away. Though there may be fewer of them,
we'll still need people in these positions for the foreseeable future.

The IT job market is changing, and it can appear bleak. But I'm
actually pretty optimistic about the prospects for IT-savvy
professionals. However, future IT job seekers will need to do more
than study computer science at a reputable college to succeed.

Barbara Gomolski, a former Computerworld reporter, is a vice president
at Gartner Inc., where she focuses on IT financial management. Contact
her at barbgomolski@yahoo.com.