Posts Tagged ‘ job market

Innovators – A Dying Breed in the US (more like being killed off)

And bam! Like I said, China and India will be two of the emerging world powers when it comes to technological innovation. I had read an earlier article many moons ago that discussed Professor Vivek Wadwha’s findings with regards to his students’ desires to return to their homelands. At the time, the push against illegal immigrants were already under way and, as mentioned, many companies found this appalling. It wasn’t too hard to connect the dots and realize that we would be massively screwing ourselves in the global market. Sadly, there isn’t much one (or a few) people can do to get Senators to care about the well being of the US over their desire to get votes for reelection. Now we see the affects of our Government’s shortsightedness – China and India are indeed two of the fastest growing markets for tech and with a greater influx of bright minds from US universities, it won’t be much longer before we see their reliance on US “innovation” fade away. Perhaps that will be the wakeup call that slaps some sense into US Government and gets them to listen to engineers instead of self-serving lobbyists.

Then there is the epic student debt problem that haunts our youth. So not only are we driving away the best and brightest foreigners, but we are also fucking over our own best and brightest newcomers. Good job America! President Obama is trying to find a way to alleviate the pains of the recession on new grads by pushing for a bill to help with student loan debt. Now the big question is: will this be enough to push new grads into starting their own businesses? I personally believe that this is too little, too late and, combined with the influence huge corporations have over the government, will be one of the contributing reasons we will lose our dominance as technological innovators. And do the numbers back me up?

Just looking at past census data (2008), we know that a gigantic chunk of employment is by small businesses. Using even 500 employees as a cutoff instead of actual dominance and ignoring the fact that huge companies tend to have a higher percentage of non-US based workers, we still end up with about 40% of the population being employed by small businesses. That is a shitfuckton of people and doesn’t even account for unregistered entrepreneurs (i.e., the new grads coming out of college). Oh, and then there are the freelancers too. Can’t forget them. Using this as our basis for small business importance, it becomes strikingly clear that pushing for small businesses and fostering startup growth is crucial to keeping our economy alive. Entrepreneurs, in particular, are some of our best innovators and provide quite the buffer setting us apart from other countries. As our buffer slowly dies, it becomes much easier for large companies in other countries to compete with the US as those companies will have the resources to match our own local R&D departments (i.e., they are on even grounds for hiring the best US workers for R&D and have the additional benefit of being much more attractive to the best and brightest foreigners – those that got educated in the US and left to go home). Once this happens, the US is going to be in deep economic shit.

So what can we do about this? For one, getting the government to realize that idiotic laws like E-PARASITE (formerly known as PROTECT IP) and the ridiculous software patent laws will only serve to hasten our decline. Perhaps getting the government to follow through on some of the We The People is a non-superfluous way would be a good start. For example, this is the response from the many marijuana petitions. The arguments and justifications put forth are idiotic (and rather than usurp my own post, I will refrain from going through them in detail) and just out of morbid curiosity (cause I don’t even agree with the petition), I’ve signed this petition just to see what inane response they send out that won’t contradict what they just wrote (or I can just sign this one). Remember Us Government, when you try and use illogical arguments against the entire US populous, you will get some sarcastic assholes who will tear your argument apart with a counterexample. Or perhaps the government can listen to the 99% and stop shacking up and fucking with corporations (Occupy Wall Street anyone?). There is a lot wrong with our government and the combination of media explosion (YouTube, Twitter, etc.) and the recession has made it much more transparent that we are declining as a nation of innovators.

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Get ready to play the blame game! Management vs IT

So a recent article on Ars discusses the increased demand in IT workers. For those of us in the industry, it comes as no surprise that demand for internal staff would eventually bounce back up, BUT there is a downside to the increased demand of which we are all well aware. Once companies start hiring locally, the blame for any screw-up will be put on the newly hired team of insourced IT. Any grand successes will be awarded to the CEO/CTO/Management Team for their “brilliance” in choosing to move away from outsourcing.

That leaves us IT workers (sys admins, developers, designers, etc.) in a precarious position. Our next job may leave a black mark on our resume, bonuses are not guaranteed, and raises will be minimal. Is it then a wonder that the hiring trends (in terms of employee requirements) have shifted to:

  • Full-time work rather than contract work.
  • Fewer interviews rather than putting up with being grilled (Hey, company X! You aren’t the prom queen!).
  • Higher salaries. We aren’t idiots. We know demand is up because of the increased amount of hiring spam we get from recruiters (mine personally has more than tripled in the past year).

You see, IT workers are not idiots and, like most people, are not looking to be burned more than once; especially in this crap economy. A comfortable job, good pay, and long term safety are priorities for those that choose to work in corporate IT. If we wanted exciting highs! Awesome new tech! A chance to become rich! We sure as hell would not be looking to work for established businesses and networking with recruiters. Instead, we’d take our talents to startups and network with VCs.

For the businesses that finally understand that majority outsourcing DOES NOT WORK (some outsourcing is ok, but if you hit majority outsourcing for IT, you are fucked), you better realize that the fallout from betraying former insourced employees has created a enormous expectation gap. It is up to the CEOs, CTOs, Management Team, and HR to find a way to appease those that have been once (or for the unlucky, twice, thrice, etc.) burned. You are also negotiating with people who do critical thinking for their jobs. We know, nay expect, that you will be putting the blame on hiring insourced IT for any management fuck-ups that lead to a worse fiscal year. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if a company’s revenue doesn’t increase after a two or three years of “investing” in insourced IT, management will draw the incorrect conclusion that insourced IT == outsourced IT. Guess what? Anyone who thinks that is stupid. If your fiscal reports just flatline, that means insourced IT stopped your falling bottom line. We bucked the trend and are in fact contributing greatly to the business. Any expectations for insourced IT to be saviors are unrealistic. Only in startups, innovative companies, and firms that invest heavily in research can IT actually make that type of impact. In most other places, we have no power to decide the direction of a company, the products, or in some cases, the technology we get to use! Doing better requires better decision making up top and for that, who should be blamed? Hmm…

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