Blessed are the Geeks, for they shall internet the earth

An Employers Job Market
Douglas Chick

Since the changing of guards in the White House took place almost two years ago, computer jobs have been on a downward spiral with no end in sight. Almost at the moment that this administration assumed office the economy crashed faster than a server without backups. Still there was at least some sign of recovery, and then 9/11, Enron / Arthur Anderson, and on Friday the stock market plummeted -295 points. All of this of course left many people without jobs. 

The Hook and Line
As with most tragedies, there are always those that immediately find profit in the misfortunes of the unfortunate, and this is where Certification Boot Camps rushed in like water from a burst dam. With the promise of a high paying career in computers, with financing as low as 49.95 a month in only a 2 week training course, shelling out 12000.00 dollars doesn't seem like that much when you're desperate for a job. Imagine, if you thought all you have to do is to obtain an MCSE, CCNA or even an A+ in 2 weeks or less and be almost guaranteed a job for 60,000 dollars a year with no experience; man, you'd jump right on that. But what if 2 weeks was just too long to go to school for or you were only allowed to finance 6000 dollars, you could only do 1 week and make 30,000 a year as a computer technician. Hell, I'd give up my job working the car wash for an opportunity like that. The direct result of this type of marketing caused the computer industry to become saturated. 

The Sinker
Because all of these newly certified hundreds of thousands, (maybe even a million) people looking for a better life for themselves count as computer professionals, the computer field may very well be the highest unemployed profession in America right now. And now there's an over population of experienced and inexperienced people all competing for the same jobs. Because the economy sank, causing jobless people to change careers, causing a deluge of certified people, computers are no longer in the top ten careers to have in this country. Sadly most of these people that obtained a certification were lied to and quickly discovered for themselves that no one is going to hire them because they simply don't have any experience. Certifications have become synonymous with job inexperienced applicants that only learned enough to pass the test. If you are one of these people that are considering a certification boot camp and you don't believe me, ask the training company for the names of past students who currently hold a job. I doubt that you'll ever see such a list. This is not to say that everyone that goes to a certification boot camp and leaves two weeks later won't find a job, some will. There will be a percentage of people that are either ambitious enough or lucky enough to find a job where no experience is needed. This could very well be you. But you better be able to correctly answer those technical questions when asked.

Who wins?
The number one winners in this mess are the software companies. Whether software companies played an active part in this or not; certified computer people will buy the software to what they are certified in. Who benefits next are all of the certification boot camps, certification training classes, junior and community colleges, companies that sell practice tests, certification books and the actual testing companies themselves. That's a lot of people. I only hope that at least a portion of revenue remains in this country. 

Who else benefits? 
The employers also benefit because now they have a stronger bargaining position with their existing IT department in lowering wages. With falsely reported corporate earnings and with the loss of investor trust, CEOs are scrambling to secure enough cash make sure there is enough money to fill their golden parachutes.

Below is an example of job postings that I'm seeing more and more of:

Network Specialist Wanted

Seeking an individual with diversified computer and networking experience. The successful candidate will have technical experience in current versions of Windows, Linux, Novell (desktop and server), Cisco equipment, IP, IPX networking, telecommunications, and web design. This individual will also need to possess demonstrable programming ability in one or more of the following areas: Visual Basic, Java, C++, ASP, SQL.
This is a Salaried position of 35,000.00 a year
Please reply to "The Last Job on Earth" to have your head examined.  

Seeing ads like this angers me. Not only is this position grossly under paid, but like having to sell apples on a street corner someone will fill it out of desperation. I have seen the same ad from the same companies popup in the paper every few months. The reason, because anyone with all of the above mentioned qualifications that was forced to take that job, only kept it long enough to find another.  I have heard from other computer people that their companies are importing certified computer people from India for minimum wage. With respect to those people from India; that's just swell! So the average wage for computer people in this country has significantly dropped, more computer people are being imported from other countries in an already bare job market, and now my wife (a network engineer) is out of a job and if she doesn't find one soon every appliance in the house is going to be wired to a hub with a network management protocol on it. Iím not kidding.

Who loses?
The victims are of course, those that were told they could buy a job with a certification and are still unemployed. Computer professionals whose jobs were lost to cheaper inexperienced help. The average annual income of an entire profession. And all of the people that live within a two miles radius of my house since my wife downloaded a wireless network sniffer, the Radio Shack catalog and e-mail addresses of United States Senate.

What will fix this problem?
I don't know. If this problem had happened to the health care industry instead of the computer industry how safe would you feel going to the hospital. A better example might be: What if the airline industry, who is already suffering, decided to replace all of their pilots with pilots from another country at minimum wage to save money? Planes would crash just like hard drives that were over looked in the backup by over worked, under staffed computer departments.



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