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The Almighty Buck Programming IT Technology

235,000 Fewer Programmers by 2015 982

RonMcMahon writes "According to a CNN Money article, Forrester Research is predicting that there will be 235,396 fewer Computer Programmers and Software Engineers employed in 2015 than there are today in America. This is a 25% reduction in the number of positions from today's depressed numbers. This sucks. I know that many companies are moving work off-shore, but wow, that's half the population of Wyoming!"
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235,000 Fewer Programmers by 2015

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:05AM (#7763002)
    I think I will start looking now or perhaps move to India.
    • by snkmoorthy ( 665423 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:15AM (#7763077) Journal
      As far as I know India doesn't have an H1B equivalent, so even if you are willing to relocate, it is near impossible.
    • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:56AM (#7763948)
      If you move to India, don't go there to do programming. Go there to start a union of tech. workers.

      Wages will be going up very fast. Many of these outsorcers have fairly long term commitments and can raise their prices and renogatiate at will. Plus reports show wages going up very fast in India (a tech. union there would do wonders for this ;-).

      Plus, there is starting to be a consumer backlash agains non-english as a first language tech. support. What was bad tech. support years ago is now becoming bad tech. support that you can't understand.
  • by Knetzar ( 698216 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:06AM (#7763010)
    Or maybe I should go and get my MBA in the next few years
  • by stinkfish ( 675397 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:06AM (#7763011)
    ...235,395 fewer!
  • by MontSegur ( 75369 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:07AM (#7763013)
    I wonder how many carpenters there are in the US? Most programmers are little more than carpenters who don't have to provide their own tools... "You buy me that shiny 64-bit hammer and I'll *pound* nails with it, Baby!"
    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) * on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:27AM (#7763154)
      Most programmers are little more than carpenters who don't have to provide their own tools...

      I'm sure, had Slashdot been around back in days of Steampunk, there would have been many articles cursing the disappearance of steam-engine related jobs, complaining that these days, steam trains were only used overseas, etc, etc. Meanwhile, the invention of the aeroplane would receive only a passing mention, everyone would think it was cool, then they would go back to complain about the decline in the use of steam technology.

      Moving jobs overseas isn't a bad thing. One thing the third world is good at is being cheap labour*. One thing the third world is very bad at is innovation**. Westerners who are good at what the West does - innovate - will be as in demand as ever. Those who can't or won't work to remain on the cutting edge, well, there's no helping them.

      * I'm not saying this is a good or a bad thing, just that it's a historical fact.
      ** Also a historical fact. Look at where the new knowledge was and is created over the last 500 years, in technology, pharma, media, you name it - in the West. Even big countries like China and Brazil use Linux, for example - they didn't (or couldn't) start from scratch.
      • Westerners who are good at what the West does - innovate - will be as in demand as ever. Those who can't or won't work to remain on the cutting edge, well, there's no helping them.

        This is not really true if you go back in history more than 300 years.

        Back then Europe was a third world country. Most of the innovators lived in China, India or the Middle East. Several of their innovations are things like writing, the number 0, arabic (!!) number system, gun powder and I'm sure countless other inventions.

      • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:27AM (#7763667)
        Yes, a lot of new knowledge has been provided by the West in the last 500 years. If you discount Russia (East) and Japan (East), who have come up with their fair share, then the west has been the main innovator. Actually, most of this has been from Europe (with America really appearing in the sights within the last hundred years or so).
        However, paying for the training of offshore people to do the low grade work that has been previously done onshore is a tad dangerous.
        All the 'high level' people that understand what the game's about have come up through the ranks of those junior positions to slowly acheive where they are.
        The premise of offshoring seems to be "Well, we'll set up the whole of our operations abroad, where it's cheap, and automagically, when we need them, experienced people will join the organisation as we need them.". Except, due to most work at the lower levels being done offshore, thus most training being done there, the experience for the higher level jobs will be required to be performed offshore.
        The setup then becomes one of having a shell company in the west, populated by a few suits with little technical knowledge, asking for a product from the real company investment (in workers and experience) in, say, India.

        Now, with having few people trained (nobody can get a job in the west, so why study?), and no experience being gained (no job), then the raw ability to innovate in that area vanishes.
        Lo and behold, the country that HAS the skills forms their own industries, and makes new products derived from their EXPERIENCE in the old (western initiated) ones.

        With sufficient saturation of skill base, and lack of draconian legal restriction, new innovation is pretty much guaranteed. That's how the US managed to kick start it's high tech lead (the "Brain Drain" is still well remembered).

        To put this in perspective, the Eastern Countries led development in technology for several thousand years. Only in about the last 500 has it lagged behind (except for Japan which is still at the forefront).
        Now, after a period of 'sleeping', the East is beginning to fire up it's technology engine, and get in the 'Innovation' mode.
        Definately not good for Western companies longterm, who are taking the short term view of a quick buck now.
        And that buck, ten years down the line will most likely vanish into an eastern company who does exactly the same thing for a quarter the price or less.

        Your reference to steam engines misses much of the point. Nobody here is crying out about losing jobs on a defunt system.
        The point is, that if, once the planes and cars developed WERE actually all made in the 'third world', and all it's engineers and manufacturing were based there when the industry was in it's infancy, then the west would not be where it is now.
        India would have the great roads, and the most advanced cars around would be of Indian manufacture. The west would now be playing catchup to the more established Indian markets.

        The sad truth is that, these days, companies are run by accountants and lawyers. These are exactly the people who look at what the money does, and NOT at what happens to the world around.
        Nobody seems to care about 10, or 20 years down the road. As long as the cash is on the table NOW, and LOTS of it, all is good.

        Your premises seem to assume that the world is generally static, and moving one part of an ecosystem and transplanting it to another area en masse will make no difference to either one.
        Read up on a good many disasters that have occurred that way.
        Computing (and society) mirror nature very closely. The big industries are playing a very dangerous game.
        • by gagy ( 675425 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:37AM (#7764426) Homepage Journal
          The sad truth is that, these days, companies are run by accountants and lawyers. These are exactly the people who look at what the money does, and NOT at what happens to the world around. Nobody seems to care about 10, or 20 years down the road. As long as the cash is on the table NOW, and LOTS of it, all is good.
          That couldn't be any more correct. I work for the worlds largest company (or so they tell me) and I think the CEO smokes crack some days. This year he said "If it doesn't generate a profit this year, don't do it." I almost snapped. It's not just people that live day to day, its multi billion dollar corporations too. They'll do anything to save a buck, even if it means sacrafacing something next year. As long as this years bottom line looks good, the cost at achieving it is having a reduced bottom line for the next two years. I proposed a great idea for increasing sales, but it would take a year or two to get the return, and that's just not good enough around here. This is also why all programmers are in a rut. Nobody cares about what happens tommorow, as long as today looks good. If it means outsourcing everything overseas, then so be it. I'm lucky because I had enough foresight to get two degrees, one in computer electronics and one in business admin. Right now i'm in Marketing and all my comp. sci friends are unemployed.
    • by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:52AM (#7763353)
      I've been itching to say this for months, but just *knew* that I'd be modded down for trolling. I had a CS prof in college (before I dropped that major) who said something like, "A lot of people think programming is art or something like it. The question is, should they?" His view is the programming is like plumbing or carpentry. The skill-set to do it is something you can pick up in trade school. The difference between a computer scientist and a programmer is the difference between a draftsman and an engineer, to put it a different way. And I mean a real engineer, not one of those people with an MCSE certificate.

      • I think that programming requires a lot of expertise. I'd like to find someone else to do some programming for me, but I find that there are too many decisions that affect the quality of the product each hour that I program. I have not been able to find someone else capable and interested in making those decisions.

        In my whole life, I haven't seen even one perfectly designed program. I haven't seen even one perfectly designed web site. For example, I was just looking at the Creative Labs web site []. There is no large photo available of the products! Creative Labs says, "With over 200 million sound cards sold, Sound Blaster is the world's most trusted PC audio brand." (Under the heading "UPGRADE to Superior Stereo Audio Quality".) After all that business experience, Creative Labs doesn't even provide useable photos of their products.

        What will be the result of the work of bored Indian programmers, who are bored because they have to follow some poorly developed specifications, and have no control over the design of the program, and no way to talk to the customer? Eventually the code will be a tangled mess, and will be thrown away.

        In the 70s, hiring PhDs was very popular. Then companies found the drawbacks. PhDs were not willing to do the tedious work that exists in every project. Hiring offshore programmers is popular now, but I think companies will slowly begin to realize that good programming requires a high proportion of extensive thought.
      • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:53AM (#7764621) Homepage Journal
        Management doesn't understand the distinction between grunt programmer and computer scientist either. A lot of grunt management will disappear when the grunt programmers are shipped overseas. Grunt management also inevitably dictates that the grunt programmers use the wrong tools for their job, and they try to justify their existance by applying "Scientific methods" (IE: The latest XP buzzwords) to prove that they're actually doing the right thing. Of course, you can prove anything with scientific methods if you start with a flawed initial hypothesis and carefully pick only those methods which will not show the underlying flaws in your reasoning.

        The programmers who treat it as an art are usually computer scientists even if all they think they're doing is programming and all it looks like they're doing is programming. Look at any of the developers on the Linux core kernel team and you'll see a guy who treats programming as an art. I know this because I've seen their code. Superficially it looks like they were just programming but you can't create an OS kernel by just programming. Management does not really understand this and will attempt to hire a batch of grunt programmers and then dictate that they write the kernel in Java. And the grunt programmers will agree, set up XP pair programming teams, require test-first design and will still fail.

        So the grunt managers and the grunt programmers will get outsourced to India where they will continue to pass or fail at random at a tenth the cost of the same team of Americans.

        Here's the magic piece of the puzzle that Microsoft is looking for: OSS projects have such high quality because OSS projects by their very nature do not include grunt programmers. Grunt programmers have no incentive to work on such projects. That doesn't mean that all computer scientists work on OSS projects, but it inevitably means that all OSS projects are populated by computer scientists of varying degrees of skill and experience (Except when a company is paying people to work on the project, that opens a door for grunt programmers.)

        Here's another thing you can put in your crack pipe and smoke; large companies will inevitably have a large number of grunt managers who don't understand computer science nor event the business logic of the requirements they're presented. These are the guys dictating that the entire CRM application should be implemented as a set of JSP web pages because that's the latest buzz in the industry. If a small company emerges that has both managers and computer scientists who understand the requirements and can dictate the implementation of their program, they will take market share (and be profitable) from the larger company, even if they're using an all USA based team and the larger company is using an all overseas one.

    • by jjohn ( 2991 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:45AM (#7763836) Homepage Journal

      Are you insane? Hammers, saws and screwdrivers aren't provided to carpenters, but materials that will stay with the customer, like 2x4 planks, I-beams, nails, are. Why on Earth would a programmer, that's not with a VAR, bring a computer to the job? A programmer's tools are nearly all insubstantial (the notable exception being books, but even those are going electronic []). Programming is a skill, not a piece of hardware. You don't need a programmer to run a computer. You need the programmer to make the computer do something useful.

      The constant equating of programming to an industrial process is without merit and has been debunked before by Fred Brooks, Steve McConnell and others. The construction techniques for software aren't as well understood or as systematized as those known to physical engineers and fabricators. This makes every software project mostly unique, although certainly experiences from previous projects will help the next one. McConnell identifies four legs of software development that must come together to get a successful production. These are people, process, product and technology. In reverse order, the technology piece is simply the OS, the hardware and programming language chosen for the job. The product leg deals with scope of the project, such as listing the required features, inputs, outputs and whatnot. The process bit relates to how the project is (or isn't) managed, risk management and customer feedback. The people aspect comprises the quality of the programmers doing the work. This can have a huge impact on the shipping product.

      Outsourcing addresses only one leg of software developement: people. By reducing the cost of this one leg, the cost of the process aspect will go up. It remains to be seen whether paying for more management and process will produce more profitable results than simply working with the native talent pool of programmers. I suspect it won't for most cases. However, there will surely be some outsourcing success stories.

      It's grossly unfair to expect the art of programming, which is hardly sixty years old, to be as well understood as construction, which has been a human endeavor for thousands of years. Those managers and market analysts that labor under this delusion are in for a rude surprise.

  • The real question (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:08AM (#7763019) Homepage
    I think that more important than the number of employed programmers and engineers is the number of people that program in their free time. A lot of programming employment opportunities are just soul draining code lackey positions. A lot of the really interesting, creative work comes from peoples' hobby projects.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:09AM (#7763029)
    Why would anyone listen to these same clowns who predicted 10 trillion dollars of e-commerce in 1999? I can also pull numbers out of my ass. I believe programming jobs will increase by 20% in ten years from current levels.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:10AM (#7763034) Homepage Journal
    The numbers won't mean much unless you can define who they are? I know some web page designers who are classed as "programmers".
  • by Knetzar ( 698216 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:11AM (#7763045)
    Think about it, the Baby Boomers will retire and fewer kids will go into computer science due to the lack of programming jobs.

    Hopefully that will reduce the supply of programmers enough so that the good ones will still be able to find jobs.
    • by Faramir ( 61801 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:15AM (#7764167) Homepage Journal

      Unfortunately you can't read the article [] anymore without paying, but they make a pretty convincing case in the Sept. issue, showing how some models predict an increase in the # of computer-related jobs (they claim the tech sector will soon return, if it hasn't already, as the fastest growing sector in the American economy). Couple this growth with baby boomers retiring, and you get a very tight labor market.

      You see, though some of us might not see it everyday (including me), apparently a large percentage of today's programs are baby boomers who are nearing retirement. Starting in a few years there will be large percentages of the programmer population leaving the job pool. In recognition of this, many large companies are already returning to handsome bonuses and good pay.

      Having said that, I do suddenly realize that there is a difference in terminology. I shold not talk about the "number of programmers" here, but rather the "number of IT jobs." That is, include project managers, MIS directors, and all kinds of people who are technically oriented, may do some programming or other admin, but are not strictly speaking programmers. So also keep that in mind with this article--how broadly do they use the term "programmer?"

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:12AM (#7763057) Journal
    but I have been sort of intrigued by the graphs seen on this page [], based on official government data.

    Of course, it is notup to date on the stock market, but I suspect that that may be a shell game anyhow, at least on some level.

    • Interesting graph, but just observing a correlation between two parameters does not proof that one is influenced by the other. Even if there is an explanation, it might be the reverse relation, or both parameters might depend on a third. If I remember correctly, presidents in the U.S. are elected by the people. Likewise, the economical situation is also determined by the spending behaviour of people.
      • If I remember correctly, presidents in the U.S. are elected by the people.

        Nope. You remember incorrectly.
      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:48AM (#7763322) Homepage
        If I remember correctly, presidents in the U.S. are elected by the people.

        Interesting theory []. I guess that depends on your definition of [] "people." []

        Personally, I feel that the state of the economy is due to the combination of the policies of the sitting president and the president that came before them. For example, Clinton fed the bubble despite a long cautionary history about preventing an economy from expanding too quickly. However, a sitting president is most definitely responsible for the federal deficit [] that is racked up during their administration, as they have direct control over such policies.
        • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:50AM (#7764586)
          For example, Clinton fed the bubble despite a long cautionary history about preventing an economy from expanding too quickly.

          I don't know about that. In his first campain he talked alot about the government investing in the national infrastructure. Then he got elected had some talks with Alan Greenspan, and decided that would be a bad idea for the economy and went back on his campain promises. He also decreased the deficit every year he was in office, exactly what you want to do during a good economy. Perhaps he could have done more to temper the bubble, but he certainly cannot be blamed for feeding it.

          From what I understand it was one of the most tempered and drawn out bubble we have had in a long time. I blame the bubble on the tech industry, and the longevity on a wise FED chairman, a president willing to listen to him, and a congress willing to cooperate with the president on lowering the deficit. I likewise blame todays recession on natural business cycles, but will blame tomorrows problems on a president who goes against the advice of a wise FED chairman, and cuts and spends wrecklessly.

          Then again, in the macro-economics class I took, one of the co-authors of the text was one of clinton's original (first term) economic advisors, so my understanding might be slightly biast, although I have read other sources.
  • by Shisha ( 145964 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:13AM (#7763060) Homepage
    Well, for the last two years, I had the feeling that this is exactly the way things are going to work out. This is why after completing my Computer Science BSc. I decided to learn Mathematics properly instead. So now, I'm 6 months away from completing my MSc. in Pure Mathematics and I know that I have learnt things that mostly have not changed for the last 100 years and are not going to change for the next 100 years all that much and so I don't need to worry about what the _next_ big thing will be, because mathematics will always be relevant. It will never be BIG in the same sense as aviation industry was once big and in the same sense as the dot com rush, but it will always be OK.

    Of course this does not stop me from getting employed as a programmer if I wanted to.
    • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:46AM (#7764538)
      I started university right when things were getting crazy in IT, for better or for worse. I was sitting in my physics class in high school when I realized that there seemed to be hordes of people going into Computer Science, and I didn't think it would be particularly difficult to get through. Then I got a test on basic electronics back. I did very well; a lot of other people didn't. So I figured what the hell, I'll try the electrical engineering thing instead. I do embedded systems and communications work mainly, although I've dabbled in a bit of everything. There is more work than I can deal with in a small town, working on automation projects - the kind of projects that make companies competitive with third world producers. Show a CEO how he can turn a 10 minute process into a 2 minute process multipled out by thousands of units and I'll show you how to make yourself a nice little income.

      Right now, CS/IT employed people could benefit from getting organized and professionalized to the degree to which engineers are. Engineering associations look after things like H1B visas (although I'm not an American), and other political policy matters that can directly impact your life. There seems to be an inability of extreme reluctance to do this though, largely because I suspect there are a lot of extremely good programmers without (formal) qualification.

      I'm not talking about unions - historically engineering associations have been very outspoken in this respect, but then again, historically engineers weren't employees for the most part, either.

      I've always drawn a distinction between programming as art, and programming as a matter of business. Art doesn't always make you money while you're alive.

  • I beg to differ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gethsemane ( 733524 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:13AM (#7763067)
    Remember what Dell just did recently? Most big business's were complaining that Dell's over seas tech support was a farce and demanded english speaking tech support reps that new the nomenclature of IT. There was such an up roar, Dell did move their Big Business tech support back to the US.

    I think after awhile with enough uproar from consumers, their slumping tech support award will cause them to follow suit for the average joe as well.

    I think we can extrapolate this to all of the other area of IT, especially programming. You still need a high level of written and oral communication to perform your job effectively. That is whyI think this big push for over seas IT jobs will eventually backfire in the face of big business.
    • Most big business's were complaining that Dell's over seas tech support was a farce and demanded english speaking tech support reps that new the nomenclature of IT.

      Funny; I've heard a related but different explanation for the exodus of programming jobs: We have to farm out most of the development to other countries, because most of the world doesn't speak English very well, and you can't develop software in the US that works in any language but English.

      Actually, my response to this tends to confuse them
  • by nich37ways ( 553075 ) <> on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:13AM (#7763068) Homepage
    Note I am in Australia which has some of these problems but nothing it would appear in comparison to America.

    As much as it does suck I honestly see the only real way forward for software engineers and programmers is to either move into or start a research and development company and develop highly specialized software or to move into a new area of IT.

    Honestly I would prefer if you didnt move into the system administration area, that would be mine, ;)

    The only way to keep your job secure is to work in face to face/onsite support or IT management although I am sure some clever CEO/CTO will figure out how to move those overseas as well.

    One of the funniest things I read this year was a guarntee from our American management that they would not be moving the software development section from Australia to America from Australia, it was originally an Australian company so we didn't steal any American jobs :)

    The real thing I want to know is where will the jobs be that are not outsourced to other countries and why will they be the ones to stay in comparison to those that are sent overseas.
  • by joostje ( 126457 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:15AM (#7763076)
    A few years back, analysts were predicting numbers of programmers to skyrocket. They were wrong. Now they predict them to go down. Why should I believe them this time?

    To me it looks like they just take the trend of the past 2 years, extrapolate it to 2015, think of a few pages worth of `reasoning' why the numbers go so much down/up, and, hey presto, a new raport available!

    • by ponxx ( 193567 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:44AM (#7763292)
      > To me it looks like they just take the trend of the past 2 years, extrapolate it to 2015,
      > think of a few pages worth of `reasoning' why the numbers go so much down/up, and, hey presto, > a new raport available!

      Are you suggesting there's somethign wrong with that? It's what all the analysts/consulatants/investment bankers seem to be doing, surely it must be right!

      I once suggested during an intership that they quote errors, or at least reduce the number of significant figures from 9 to 1 or 2 when predicting market volumes 10 years in the future... all i got in response was blank stares...

      crazy world!
    • I've been doing Consulting for the last 10 years. I've worked with (am still working with) lots of customers over that time and I think that the prediction is accurate. I just don't see anyone with big expansion plans for IT right now. And I don't see anything on the horizon that will change that. Most customers are happy enough with their current IT that they don't want to spend big any more. The ERP is in place. The online presence is in place. The board room question that's being asked is "WTF is IT doin
    • Look, pre-dotcom, the number of people entering the computer science fields was DECLINING, and demand was going up. Beyond qualitative measurements like caliber of programmers (people that love computers vs. learn in school without the passion to excel), this results in the salaries moving up and fewer people employed than if more people entered the field.

      Is there any reason to be shocked that when salaries go up because there aren't enough people in the field that more people will enter the market? It j
  • by CompWerks ( 684874 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:19AM (#7763102)
    I just want to sit in my cube, program and interact with as little of management as possible.

    I should of known it would never last...

  • by mcpkaaos ( 449561 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:19AM (#7763104)
    I seem to remember that not more than 10 or 15 years ago, people were predicting that by the end of this decade there would be such a demand for programmers, due to every little thing in your house having a computer of some sort in it, as to cause a shortage of supply. Well, that just didn't quite happen the way we thought it would. One might say it's due to the .com bust, one might not. The twists along the way don't really matter much. Any way you look at it, the predictions were and continue to be unfulfilled. I wouldn't bet my future on this "new" one coming to pass either. I would presume that these predictions rely heavily on current or near-recent trends (especially when programming could be concerned). Who knows what the next couple of years might bring, let alone the next decade.
  • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gm a i> on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:26AM (#7763140) Homepage
    Nash was right... nuff said.

    I see this as a "what I want" syndrome that is going to bite people in the ass in the long run.

    First off you have the american side of it. The CEOs will ship the jobs off shore, americans will lose jobs and have to go on pogey. So yeah, the CEO makes a short-term profit but pays for it in taxation in the end.

    Second you have the foreign side of it. They're willing to sell their time for a heck of a lot less than the americans [leading to the questionable quality issue which is another debate alltogether]. However, in the long run thy're just poising themselves to earn the least amount of money possible. [e.g. no long-term profit].

    So really outsourcing is a nearsighted "fix".

    However, there are several real concerns. Often software developers are paid way too much for what they produce. $70k/yr to produce buggy programs [re: name the last 10 windows games...] is excessive. Also this is partly americans own fault. Everyone and their brother is now a "computer scientist" [having finished their 3wk course at Devry or what not]. Now the CEOs are just pushing this farther by grabing rice farmers and what not and calling them computer scientists.

    So in reality y'all are gonna taste your own medicine in the end!!!!


  • Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:26AM (#7763143) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps it's just me, but I think it's GREAT there'll be less programmers. I can't see the amount of programming work dropping significantly by 2015, so it means more work for less people, and perhaps our rates of pay will become more on a par with plumbers, builders, and carpenters once again.. instead of being at Wal*Mart levels.

    This is a great market readjustment.
  • Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:27AM (#7763146)

    "America and it's corporations will be less relevant to the rest of the world, IT-wise, in 2015."

  • by taliver ( 174409 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:27AM (#7763156)
    There will be fewer people vying for those jobs, according to
    this. []

    So, the jobs that will probably be lost are the ones that suck anyway, the ones that require just painful coding line after line of repetive garbage.

    The jobs that will be left will be the high-paid positions of QA-- the ones to go through all that garbage written by the lowest bidder and fix it. O the joy we will have.
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:31AM (#7763178) Homepage
    Are you working in the private sector? Then take it from me: you won't be in the lucky half.
  • is this a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Metaldsa ( 162825 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:38AM (#7763233)
    Predicting an economy in the year 2015? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I don't even know what kind of software, video games, or equipment I will be using in 2010. Why would they assume to know how many programmers we will need here or around the world in 2015. I refuse to RTFA with an intro like that :)
  • My guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:51AM (#7763341)
    I won't hazard a guess as to the accuracy of the Forrester article. They seem pretty hit-or-miss on their predictions, which is probably why they keep shrinking as a company.

    That said, it doesn't seem unreasonable that there will be a sigificant drop in software engineers over the next ten years. Why? Because there is so much research going into technologies to transform business workflow more quickly into customized (but not custom) applications for managing business processes. There are an enormous number of developers employed doing precisely that in one way or another, whether its a VB program for managing customer contacts, or a staff of Java developers building internally developed applications on data warehousing applications. All of that stuff is going to become much easier to transform from business requirements to final application. Not drag and drop, but a staff of ten may drop to a staff of five or six.

    There will be a lot of jobs for senior level engineers, far less than now for entry-level positions. For those of you who are thinking you may be in one of those positions in ten years, well thats probably good or bad. Bad thing is, there'll be fewer positions to fill, but the upside is that it will probably turn the tide of people away from thinking CS is a quick and easy road to a high paying job -- and it'll be easier to progress up the ladder to senior and principal positions. I know a lot of guys now who get stuck with a virtual glass ceiling because the ratio of engineers to senior or principal engineers is so out of whack, companies just don't have that many positions for them.

    I suspect a lot of software development positions will become more business-specific, as well. It'll be expected that anyone over a certain level has an ability to understand and work with the business side of a particular corporate structure. Foul smelling unkempt hacker types may have a harder time finding jobs in that kind of a market. But from a reformed foul smelling hacker type, its a lot easier to get laid if you clean up your style a bit. ;-)
    • Re:My guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:50AM (#7763884)
      You almost touched on one of the biggest problems I see we're going to have in offshoring: Entry point.

      Lets assume, as you do, there'll be a lot of jobs for senior-level engineers. Lets assume there are far less than now for entry-level positions. Now, *I'm* a senior-level engineer (13 years in IT). I wasn't senior-level when I entered the field, though -- I entered the field by doing data entry on registration cards for a software company and becoming known as The Guy Who Could Fix Macs. I know I'm not the only one.

      Skilled industries (everything from programming to carpentry to electrical work) have traditionally depended on mentoring, apprenticeship, and a growth path that starts with you being at the bottom. If we're sending all our bottom-feeder jobs to India, where will our next senior people come from? They're not going to burst fully formed from the foreheads of the current generation.
  • by Ubi_NL ( 313657 ) <> on Friday December 19, 2003 @09:55AM (#7763367) Journal
    sounds a bit like this Elvis joke:

    In 1977 there were 150 Elvis impersonators. By 1999 there were 35,000. If this rate of growth continues, by the year 2019, more than one third of the world's population will be Elvis impersonators.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:00AM (#7763403)
    Does anyone actually believe that? I watch CNBC all day and these guys seem to believe that these one-time earnings gains are going to continue. These gains are mostly from off-shoring work...not from "top-line" growth.

    The economy is still very much in recession. I don't care what the Bush spinsters say. Employment is the number one indicator of economic health, and our economy is terribly sick. Sure the official number might be around 6%, but that does not account for under-employment. How many software guys do you know that are working either contract positions, or not working in IT at all?

    I predict a slow Christmas retail season, a corporate earnings drop-off next year, and higher unemployment numbers after the full impact of off-shoring jobs really takes its toll. Companies will soon realize that off-shoring jobs is a one-time gainer strategy, and not one that will provide long-term growth.

  • by stankulp ( 69949 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:01AM (#7763419) Homepage
    Since when?

    Five years ago they did a straight-line extrapolation to predict federal budget surpluses as far as the eye can see. I don't see them anymore, do you?

    Nobody can foresee the future. There are 10% as many telephone operators now as there were 40 years ago, handling ten times as many calls. Is that a bad thing?

    Over that past 40 years I have seen engineers in high demand and engineers stocking grocery shelves. If it's bad now, give it five years and it will be good. If it's good now, give it five years and it will be bad.

    That's the way it goes. Everything is not good all the time.

    If you blow your brains out during the bad times, you miss the good times that are just around the corner.
    • I definitely hear you on that one.

      You can't extrapolate todays numbers out 10 years. These figures do not take into effect deflation on wages that would occur if these numbers were true. More people chasing fewer jobs drops wages in the US. At the same time wages increase in offshore destinations as the standard of living increases. The labor advantage of offshoring is reduced, if not eliminated.

      It also doesn't take into effect the inevitable backlash against companies that practice offshoring. It's not

  • Been here before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:16AM (#7763560) Homepage
    If you've been in the IT industry any length of time then you've been here before. Anyone remember the "death" of mainframe programmers? Companies scooping out large pits out behind the plant to bury their COBOL and FORTRAN coders. It's a good thing they didn't cap those pits because a lot of companies had to dig some of them up. Partly because of Y2K and partly because they were still using those systems 20 years later. Overall we survived the transition to client-server and PC think.

    Remember when FrontPage came out? That was around 94-96 time frame(?), right about the same time every night school on the planet was offering "webmaster" *snicker* certification. Everybody and their dog was calling themselves a web developer. But it never nicked the market for people who could produce really professional looking high-end sites. Then came the marraige of web sites with a database back end and db skills separated the webmaster employed from the rest of the pack.

    If you've been in IT a long time you're used to being a techno-chameleon. There will always be new things coming along that will open up new markets. And even if it doesn't, even if I finally transition out of IT into a different kind of business, look at the technical advantage I have. I can build my own web sites, know how to market and promote them, write my own db's, program my own applications, or tweak OSS apps to do something specific for me, run my own network. It puts me miles ahead of my peers in any other line of business.

    20 years in IT and analysts keep coming up with the same crap, like some karmic manure spreader. Just keep your head on a swivel, bank cash when times are good, and don't get boxed in thinking the only way to make a living is working for someone else.

  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:19AM (#7763580)
    ...and Kazaa (!) will have long since launched the nuclear strike...

  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:25AM (#7763643) Homepage
    An overwhelming number of programmers, software and web developers I know went "yeah I know Java". They dont really have a clue about real structured programming as in the Linux kernel, almost never heard of code optimisations and look great in a tie.

    Universities are churning out students of ADA, Pascal and Java, most of whom applied to the university thinking of the good fortunes of being in IT around 1998.

    I doubt many of the developers of the applications in sourceforge will be in this number. A market booms, you get hundereds of thousands of extra golddiggers, then it goes bust, the golddiggers leave, the ones dedicated to the art stay, the market booms again, the golddiggers return, the experienced ones make good money and buy McLarens.

    Fewer programmers mean a guy who can port Linux or NetBSD to a specialized ARM MCU will be more in demand, and will not get laid off like today. It by no means means the cults and culture that churn out the code for sourcecode will disappear.
  • Gloom and Doom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Odonian ( 730378 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:27AM (#7763660)
    OK, granted tech jobs are going offshore. But I've been in this long enough to know that the reality will not be as horrible/scary as all the predictions. Anyone remember the "Japanese will take over the entire electronics industry" panic of the 80's? Everyone predicted that there would be no more chip design anywhere but in Japan. That didn't happen. They certainly are a still a big competitor to the US electronics/semi industry, and things did indeed change here, but new things came out of it and I don't think the fact that the US doesn't make memories or TVs anymore devastated the tech industry here -- quite the opposite. How about the NAFTA "Giant Sucking Sound" of jobs going to Mexico? Unemployment didn't skyrocket due to this as some predicted. The US economy adapts and changes based on the external environment.. it will continue to do so IMO.
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:33AM (#7763717) Journal
    "Dr. Ganesha has detected a negative karmic dispensation in your system. This state of digital being was unexpected, and most likely the work of Narada, the mischief-maker. Please, under the graces of Krishna, restart your computer to restore balance."

    Oh, and Narada, the mischief-maker is not to be confused with Mentos, the fresh-maker.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:45AM (#7763832)
    Business consulting like Forrester, McKinsey, Deloitte-Touch, etc. does not require a physical presence in the USA. Hopefully all these people will be outsourced to Asia, where consultants are much cheaper.
  • by ReusableCoder ( 734108 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:48AM (#7763856)
    According to the US Dept of Labor [], from their 2002-3 Occupational Outlook Handbook, s/w engineers [] "are projected to be the fastest growing occupation over the 2000-10 period" while employment growth for programmers [] "will be considerably slower than that of other computer specialists, due to the spread of pre-packaged software solutions".
    If you're worried about your job security, start learning more than just programming languages and APIs. (Of course, until we have a proper accreditation system, anyone in the s/w industry can call themselves an engineer...)
  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:43PM (#7766132) Homepage
    235,396 fewer Computer Programmers... wow, that's half the population of Wyoming!

    For those whose base unit of measurement is not 'Wyomings'... if we lined those programmers up head-to-toe, they would stretch approximately 250 miles from Silicon Valley out into the Pacific Ocean heading towards Asia. At that point, of course, many would drown.

    Alternatively, if the computer programmers were laid end-to-end, the chain would be longer than 4,000 football fields. Of course, it would be dangerous leaving so many nerds lying down in fields if football players were around.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.