Saturday, May 05, 2007

The other shoe drops!

Well, I have just heard the death knell of computer people being a profession, or a "white collar" class in western society. Yesterday, IBM announced that it may be laying off up to 150,000 people from it's Global Services division. Add to that the spin-off effects, and you may see up to half a million computer professionals looking for a job by the end of the year.

This will have the same effect on the US computer field that Nortel's crash had on Canada's...a flood of highly qualified computer professionals looking for whatever computer job they can get. This means that companies who need computer people will be able to cherry pick what they need, and get over-qualified people to fill even the "joe jobs".

What does that mean? Well, if you are not highly specialized or have degrees up the wahzoo, you are no longer going to be able to make a wage that is significantly better than a McJob. If you are lucky, you will be able to make $30K. You might even get benefits, but don't count on them. And if you don't kiss-ass all the time, you will find yourself on the street PDQ, because there were 5,000+ resumes submitted for the job when you got it, and when they advertise to replace you, they will get 20,000. I base these numbers on the numbers I have heard for what happens today in Canada, where Canada population is 10% of the US's.

If there was a time for Computer People to unionize, the time is here...but it may already be too late. Good Unions didn't help the manufacturing sector of either Canada or the US, although it has managed to keep trades people gainfully employed. In fact that may be the model that computer people should look at...being tradespeople.

Computer tradespeople will no longer wear dress pants and shirt...but maybe work pants, and polo shirt with their first name, or their company's embroidered on them. That will not appeal to those who got into the field because it was high paying, or that it wasn't a trade, but to those who love computers, it won't matter, as long as they are working on computers, and they can make enough to survive on.

There is a bright side to this..sorta. Again, based upon what has happened in Canada, the vast numbers of people looking for jobs with computer skills will make it cheap enough again to start to operate tech-support call centers in the US again. That's something... I guess.