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IT crisis, depending on your perspective..

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Nov. 17th, 2006 | 01:57 pm

According to this article, in the UK,

"... in the past four years demand for IT and computer graduates has doubled while at the same time the number of students studying the subject has declined by a third."


I've also heard similar things from the US in recent weeks. Even India is supposed to be having a skills crisis according to a few articles I've read recently. Demand there is so out of match with supply that the annual wage inflation for IT workers is running at almost 20%. This is all good news for IT workers incomes. More evidence that shifting from academia to industry now might be a good idea.

If all this industry demand is for real, I find it strange that the demand for people doing theoretical AI research appears to be so bleak.

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Comments {7}

Celestial Weasel

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from: celestialweasel
date: Nov. 17th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
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The demand is, I suspect, as ever, for 18 year olds with 10 years experience in technologies that have been round for 3 years who will work for peanuts.

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mathemajician

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from: mathemajician
date: Nov. 17th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
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Everybody I know in IT seems to make pretty good money. Indeed in many cases it's rather more than just "pretty good". I take it you don't. Why?

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Celestial Weasel

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from: celestialweasel
date: Nov. 17th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
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Well, I do, personally. But I am skeptical of this news story for 3 primary reasons...
1. BBC technology reporting is often a bit suspect, and in general the BBC do have a tendency to report any old crap they are sent on nice headed notepaper as fact.
2. The BCS is not an organisation that is taken at all seriously, it is not at all analogous to the ACM (I am a member of the ACM).
3. For the 20 odd years I have been in the IT field there have been reports about the skills shortage even at times when anecdotally there have been plenty of people finding difficulty getting jobs. This is clearly 6 of one and half a dozen of the other in that for every company turning down someone because they are too old or have used the wrong language, there will be an applicant whose CV (resume to Americans :-)) or general outlook when interviewed focusses too much on the technologies used rather than more transferrable skills.
I do a lot of interviewing / recruiting, I think things are pretty buoyant at the moment, judging by the difficulty we had filling our last role. However things are not what I would call 'over-heated' at the moment.

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mathemajician

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from: mathemajician
date: Nov. 17th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. That's interesting information for me, and another data point for my collection ;-) The impression I'm getting from people is similar to what you say, namely that the market is buoyant at the moment but not over-heated.

In this case, the BBC article, and the others I've read recently, should be right. I mean, if the job market is already buoyant and is expected to keep on growing over the coming years, while at the same time the number of people going into IT training in universities is actually falling... clearly a market imbalance is on the way. And it's not just in the UK, I've also heard from people in the US and talked to professors in CS university departments in New Zealand and they all tell me the same thing — falling enrollments in CS departments.

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Celestial Weasel

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from: celestialweasel
date: Nov. 18th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
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Well, yes, but I imagine 98% of software development jobs don't need an IT degree - I don't have one (I have a maths degree, albeit with some theoretical comp. sci. options - when I did the degree Oxford University didn't have an undergraduate computing degree of any shape or form).

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Celestial Weasel

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from: celestialweasel
date: Nov. 23rd, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
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You might want to read this
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/23/letters_from_sub-america/

Clearly we are in anecdote territory here, but the writers do not seem completely delusional to me.

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mathemajician

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from: mathemajician
date: Nov. 23rd, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I hear similar things coming from people in the US and I've seen something similar in New Zealand when I used to work in IT there. I think the problem is that not enough differentiation is made in people's minds between the top quartile IT staff, and bottom quartile. Friends of mine are all top quartile workers (because at university I hung out with the highly motivated nerds!). After they graduated they managed to get fairly low paying IT jobs as better than average companies. After 5 years however they have progressed up (which often meant taking risks like leaving the company to go overseas for a while etc.) and now are making very good money (back in NZ).

At any rate, I'm currently thinking of trying to apply my math and machine learning background to finance, perhaps at a hedge fund. A straight IT career isn't appealing much to me, not just because of the pay but also because I'd prefer something more intellectually diverse.

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