IT Workers Second-Guess Career Choice

Analysis: In general, IT workers are feeling unsettled about the state of the IT workplace.

Though it has come a long way from the gloom-and-doom days of the dot-com bust, the state of the IT workplace isnt shiny and happy.

If you ask an IT pro what they think of their chosen career path, a surprising number might pause before giving you a litany of reasons that the technology workplace leaves them feeling unsettled.

They love what they do, but theyre not sure IT is a great place to be doing it anymore. Even worse, theyre not sure that they would encourage their own computer-inclined children to pursue the same line of work.

Fortunately, this isnt the case for everyone. Several reports point to the vigor of the IT job market, the overall health of the U.S. IT sector, the preponderance of bright students in the talent pipeline and soaring salaries in some sub sectors.

Yet, good news can only go so far to undo the damage wrought by some cold, hard IT workplace facts.

No matter how many stories crop up in which CIOs confess "outsourcing didnt work for me," the trend toward the commoditizing of IT and development work, not to mention sending IT overseas to save money, shows little sign of letting up.

Will their jobs be next? IT workers worry everyday. Technology company CEOs predicted that their use of offshore services would increase over the next several years, according to a 2007 CEO Survey released by Deloitte, a Swiss company, on May 1.

Nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents stated that they were currently offshoring and 55 percent said they planned to in the coming years, so much so that nearly one-third expected to have 10 percent of their work force offshore in five years time.

The good news on the offshoring front is a little more difficult to track down, but it mostly involves senators stepping forward to offer protection to victims of the global talent market and coming down on firms that abet companies that disregard protections for U.S. workers.

However, as long as outsourcing lays down onshore and nearshore roots, its not likely that IT professionals will be feeling any extra job security.

Is there a shortage of IT professionals? Is there not? It depends on who you talk to. Yet if you speak to enough people, one message becomes clear: There is a shortage, but its of workers with the most highly sought-after skill sets. Everyone else is having a harder time finding work.

In a way, there are two IT work forces: those whose salaries and opportunities climb due to head-turning percentiles each year, and those whose skill sets are left behind, and whose heads spin when they read another account of the "vibrant health" of IT.

In the first category, there is a shortage. Companies scramble to find IT workers with SAP skills or project management skills, and end up paying premium prices for them. In the latter category, those having trouble finding work are often not able to find the companies looking for them, which are often small and lack the resources of a big tech HR department. In both categories, the luck of the draw seems to reign supreme.

Any person not living under a rock has watched the writing appear on the wall: Housing prices are falling into a crisis zone; the credit market is collapsing; the Fed even cut the discount rate. It could only be a matter of time before this recession takes its toll on IT workers, a population still scarred from the dot-com bust.

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