Monday, December 29, 2008

Join the IT Crowd

I can't stand one particular advert on TV. And I'm worried it's the just the start of a new trend.

There's a worried man. You can tell he's worried because he's hamming it up like a silent movie actor. He's in a cramped black-and-white room. The bills are piling up and he's afraid of losing his job which totally sucks. His sexy but fickle wife is probably going to run off too. Oh, woe is he.

But wait ! He's signed up for some IT courses and we cut to a confident man striding in living colour from a big house towards his big car (presumably after being a total stud with his wife). The advert ends with him driving off contentedly towards a satisfying and lucrative job in IT.

The reality is more disappointing. The industry is in retreat. In the 1990s any bozo could have parlayed a few basic IT skills into a significant living, and many did. But things have changed. The industry is in retreat in line with the world recession, and there is a significant and growing supply of cheap offshore labour. This hits old lags like me hard, but it's even worse for people just starting out.

For example, imagine you are attracted by the starting salary for Junior Database Administrators (around £25k) with the prospect of doubling that when you get experienced. You work hard to pass the required exams in your free time (one year if you are clever and hardworking).

Unfortunately to get your feet on the ladder you are competing with a large number of Indian guys and gals who have IT degrees and are significantly cheaper and usually more polite and smarter than you are. Eye-wateringly cheap if they don't even have to leave India. Database Administrators don't need to be on the same continent as the machines they tend and the machines don't need to be on the same continent as the people who use them. I've worked with a client in England whose machines were in Holland and whose administrators were in India.

So basically your qualifications buy you a lottery ticket to compete with the entire world to get a job with a shrinking salary that is unlikely to improve either your finances or your sex life.

My message would be that if IT interests you, then get stuck in and compete for whatever jobs aren't being outsourced by being more persuasive, cleverer and harder working than any other applicant. I've enjoyed working in IT and I hope you do too. But don't give any money to these people selling dreams. All you'll likely get is a list of qualifications (you could have got this by googling "IT certification") and a standard recruitment consultancy service (there are thousands of these - or try and phone whichever agency has the job you fancy).

I don't like the fact that these people are profiting from fear and selling something you could get for free (and which might not be worth much anyway). I hope they crash and burn and I won't ever have to sit through similar adverts ever again.

Some hope. The coming Depression is likely to lead to a lot more more fear and I suspect that profiting from it will become one of the few growth areas.


2 Robins said...

Here here....

The adverts sell promises that can't be fulfilled.

Employers these days want experience rather than qualifications.

Even with over 10 years software development experience it is still hard to change jobs.

These courses won't lead to the jobs that they promise.

Stan said...

It's like those forward-payment cons where you've won the lottery, but you just need to pay some administration charges upfront.