Saturday, July 22, 2006

Should my child become a software developer?

My sons aren't quite old enough to ponder this question, but if they were what would I tell them? As things stand right now, I would encourage them not to pursue Computer Sciences. I have several reasons:

1) Software employment has stagnated the past five years and appears to have slow growth and higher unemployment than other professions like accounting and healthcare
2) Corporations have increased offshoring of software jobs and plan to continue this pattern
3) Software jobs that remain in the United States are often given to lower paid and exploited foreign workers on H-1b or L1 visas; Americans face foreign competition here and abroad
4) Politicians seem inclined to reduce trade barriers with third world countries which will make it even easier and more cost effective to move production overseas
5) Politicians have rolled back labor protections for software developers; they are specifically exempt from overtime laws and the vast majority are not represented by organized labor

If I were entering college now I would be more inclined to pursue an occupation with a brighter future. If you are considering a Computer Science degree, you should first ask your Congress person what they will do to protect the occupation.

Fresh college graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to gain entry-level employment in software occupations. Our unsustainable trade, immigration, and labor policies are to blame.

3 Comments:

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fresh college graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to gain entry-level employment in software occupations. Our unsustainable trade, immigration, and labor policies are to blame."

Several years ago, a student working in a local restaurant in Blacksburg, VA informed me that new graduates in IT/CS at Virginia Tech were finding it difficult to find jobs, word was getting back to IT/CS students, and they were switching their majors. Later that year nearer graduation, the "Roanoke Times" noted that VT was awarding significantly fewer degrees in IT/CS than in the past so this had to have been going on for a while.

As a retired IT professional, I'd have to say that recommending to your children that they go into IT/CS should be considered child abuse.

Deena Flinchum

 
At 8:07 PM, Blogger R. Lawson said...

"As a retired IT professional, I'd have to say that recommending to your children that they go into IT/CS should be considered child abuse."

I don't find many websites where current or retired medical, accounting, or law professionals discourage their children from pursuing that profession.

The fact that I hear so many people in the IT profession warning their own kids about this occupation is an eye-opener indeed.

Thank you for your comments. Hopefully more retired folks will step forward regarding this - if you aren't too busy enjoying yourself in your retirement (and I hope you are).

 
At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, R Lawson. One of the things that I have done in retirement - in addition to lots of volunteer community service - is write letters to the editor, some on the H-1B visa and its effects on IT/CS employment in the US. Below is one that the "Wall Street Journal" published. As you know the WSJ strongly supports more H-1B and L-1 visas. The sentence about the children of "tech execs" was prompted by a WSJ story in which "tech execs" were lamenting that they couldn't get their children to go into technology and engineering. One child even told Dad that he wasn't about to go into a career where his job would be shipped to India......

Deena Flinchum

#################
Reading your May 5 editorial “High-Tech Brain Drain” regarding Bill Gates’s comments on the H1-B Visa program, I was reminded of a sign that hangs above the bar in one of my favorite restaurants. It says, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

The unemployment rate among information technology workers is higher than the overall unemployment rate. Still, there is an element of truth in Mr. Gates’s saga of having difficulty in finding high-tech employees: University students are starting to avoid information technology and engineering careers; they’re aware of the risk of not finding jobs in these fields because of businesses’ outsourcing and importing H-1Bs to fill jobs in the U.S.

The children of “tech execs” could reasonably expect their parents not only to pay for their educations but also perhaps to pull a few strings to get them into well-paying high tech jobs. But even these students are apprehensive about taking chances on high tech careers; how much more fearful must be the bright, ambitious middle-class students leaning toward a career in engineering or IT who have no well-placed mentors and who are financing their university educations via thousands of dollars in student loans.

Virginia Tech has seen a significant drop in students majoring in fields relating to IT. Students who graduate with such degrees, often accompanied by large student loans, are not finding jobs in the field. This information gets back to other IT- related majors in their early years, and they switch their majors to something else. The high-tech dearth is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy - it’s the market, pure and simple. One of the best ways to correct this problem right now is to reform the H-1B Visa program and to lower, not raise, the numbers granted.

Morale will not improve until the beatings stop.

 

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