Page Three

By eweek  |  Posted 2002-10-07 Print this article Print

eWeek: Do you see hiring picking up any time soon? A lot of the correspondence we get from readers indicates theyre very frustrated, theyre very angry. And theres a sense that the downturn were seeing now may be more permanent. Do you think thats the case, and if so, whats really changing at the base level?

D. Brown: I think whats changing fundamentally is were all coming off the Y2K hangover. We hired and hired and hired and pushed and did everything we could, and now things are falling off so quickly that a number of people are just catching their breath, [recuperating from] spending associated with Y2K and the dot-coms.

Divinere: Plus a lot of money was spent on Y2K to redo the systems, put in ERP packaged software. They spent a lot of money on hardware, software, development costs, maintenance costs. Y2K was a big part of it, but the economys hurting, [and] labor costs have definitely gone up there. But theres a couple of trends. One is that some work has gone offshore. Thats taken jobs away, without a doubt.

Luftman: When I want to hire those technical skills, youre right: I dont need to find somebody here to do it. I want to find somebody whos a project leader with contacts. That goes back to the contracting issue.

Divinere: So from an expense management standpoint, going offshore makes sense. [And theres another aspect.] It no longer takes two years to build application systems. When we were building systems years ago, we went through the system development life cycle, and we did our requirements definition, and by the time we built our system, it took us two, three years to build a major application. Today, the data is there in many legacy systems. What they do [is develop] extracts. They build a little interim database, and they use new technology. They have an application running in months.

Luftman: So people who build data warehousing and middleware stuff should be better off because they have those skills.

Divinere: I see a lot of activity happening in data management and data warehousing. I think thats a big area.

C. Brown: [Is the mail youre getting from] some of the newer folks whove entered the profession?

eWeek: I think both. We get mail; we hear it both from unemployed technical people and from management people. Theres a sense that "Ive been in IT 20 years, I have these skills I invested in, and up until a couple of years ago, I felt I was secure. I thought I did all the right things, but now the rules have changed."

D. Brown: I know folks who are counseling professionals. Theyve mentioned the younger folks who are coming in and are having trouble with the idea that they cant get on with their lives and their careers. They came out of the chute, they came into the Y2K draft and it just carried them along. And, all of a sudden, it just went away, and theyve never known anything but success, and they are frustrated and disillusioned.

C. Brown: Thats what Im hearing from the younger ones, too, and thats why Im curious. When they first took their jobs, everything was there: all the special bonuses. And, all of a sudden, some of thats been taken away. I think theres disillusionment among some of the newer recruits.

Luftman: I sense some of the biggest pain is with the older folks, though. Theyre the ones with the gray hair, theyre senior, theyre now out of work. Theyre used to a higher standard of living. Theyre seeing age discrimination ... again. ...

Think about the folks who were in IT for, say, 10, maybe 15 years. They only experienced the limelight, the positive, the opportunity to quit your job for a higher salary, more challenging work. And then, all of a sudden, within a year or two, its a totally different environment. Thats a transformation thats not good [even] for people whove been in IT 20 or 25 years. But [people with less experience] never experienced a downside.

Barrett: Ive still seen predictions that the number of IT employees is going to grow 50 percent in the next couple of years. Where are those numbers coming from?


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