Stealing Your Kids' Dreams-and Years from Their Lives

Don Tennant

I've made no secret of my lack of patience with disenchanted IT workers who discourage their own kids from pursuing a technology-related degree and entering the IT field. So when I raised the issue with a professional career coach last week, I found it interesting that she seems to have even less patience with the practice than I do.

 

Catherine Jewell, author of the book, "New Resume, New Career," articulated what lies at the root of my problem with people who do that to their kids: They may well be stealing their child's dream:

I think it's a big mistake to discourage children from any career path. I think that we know at a very deep level what we're meant to do. I coach people in their fifties now who are going back to the career dreams that they had as a teenager, and they got waylaid by advice.

Jewell went so far as to say that it may well be in the genes of the child of an IT professional to want to pursue a career in IT:

IT people procreate IT people. They obviously have the mind and the personality for it, so it's very likely that their children will have those same types of talents. I also believe that the current situation is just a blip in history. IT is here to stay. IT becomes more and more critical to business functions every day, and it's not going anywhere. We still need brilliant people to solve IT problems. I can only see IT getting bigger.

Of course, many disenchanted IT workers don't want to hear that. A post that I wrote last December, "Mamas, Please Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Tech Pros," drew a lot of angry comments from a lot of bitter people. This one was typical:

Why would you encourage your children to go in to STEM careers when there are so many cheap labor advocates like yourself determined to keep the wages low using mechanisms like the H-1B program?

We can make snide, negative comments like that from now till the cows come home, but that does nothing to benefit our kids. In fact, it was in this context that Jewell made a point that all of us would do well to remember:

There's something about the IT mind-it's taught to be discerning. But the other edge of that sword of discernment is negativity. I think anything you can do to get a more positive outlook is what you should be doing.

She's right. There have been any number of scientific studies that show that optimistic, positive people live longer, healthier lives than negative people. A 2009 University of Pittsburgh study of 100,000 women over 50, for example, found that pessimists are 30 percent more likely to die of heart disease than optimists. Research conducted in 2004 by the Psychiatric Center GGZ Delfland in The Netherlands found that optimists have a 55 percent lower risk of death from all causes than pessimists.

 

So maybe stealing your kids' career dreams by saddling them with your hang-ups and disappointments isn't so bad after all, relatively speaking. Stealing years from their lives by passing along your negativity is clearly worse.



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Jun 30, 2010 1:23 AM Blue Blue  says:

Don, most people telling their kids to avoid IT are not IT workers.  It's the co-workers whom have seen the entire IT department shipped overseas or replaced with H1b/L1 workers.  How do you stop them from telling their kids the truth, Don? You can't.

Here is the thing, you may hear from IT workers the most, but everyone knows about the destruction of IT as a viable career.  Media propaganda cannot trump peoples personal experiences.  They know the media is lying.

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Jun 30, 2010 1:30 AM Indian_H1B Indian_H1B  says:

IT has quite a few facets and is now evolved to the point of using multiple skills.

Programming, at its core, is the marriage of math and syntax/grammar. Few other jobs in life are so well entrenched in these 2 enjoyable worlds. Programming is also creative and rewarding. How often do you get to spend 4 hours conjuring up something that can instantly gratify you with precisely the result you wanted. Programming is also about discipline and thoroughness. Million lines of code interplaying to deliver complex solutions can do so only on the weight of stodgy stress testing and tireless code poring.

And today, programming is only one aspect of IT.

You need marketing ingenuity to identify the scope and scale of future IT needs. You need leadership and hand-holding to bring out the best out of 50 person teams who you've so far managed to convince are happy sitting in a 6 by 6 cubicle hunched over and staring blankly into an LCD contraption. You need vision to see what millions of nested code constructs could mean to the next best thing in cancer research. You need nimbleness to migrate carefully cultivated solutions over 15 years to the cloud. You need to be sacrificial and philosophical to tell your best programmers that their last 2 years have been in vain and they'll need to focus on something different.

IT needs intelligent people of every shape and size. If your child is bright, I wouldn't do anything to dissuade it from dabbling in IT. I would get over the "cheap Indian programmer" bugbear and focus on the plethora of avenues that IT has yet to trail-blaze. In short, I would grow a pair and respect the very field I supposedly enjoy working on day-in and day-out.

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Jun 30, 2010 2:52 AM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to Indian_H1B

Indian H-1B can 'grow a pair' all he wants, risking his own future and ability to sleep indoors, but I'm not sendng him my kids as career canon fodder. Instead, I'm an activist for laws to halt and turn back the India, Inc. takeover of my country. You don't get to that level of programming skill without a lot of experience and growth, but how do you get experience and growth in an artificially flooded labor market? Short answer: you don't.

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Jun 30, 2010 3:46 AM Indian_H1B Indian_H1B  says: in response to Dolores

If you honestly believe a bunch of college-educated, awkward professionals are taking over this land independent for 230+ years and producing 25% of all economic activity in the world, you are either lacking in courage or lacking in reasoning.

By the way, please don't send ME your kids. That's creepy!

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Jun 30, 2010 3:52 AM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to Indian_H1B

That's not what's happening at all. A few Indian H-1Bs are high-talent, but the majority have mediocre talents and common skill sets. With their endless suite of bodyshops, they go from project to project, while Americans open rejection letters. I've heard them described as the Asian equivalent of the Irish Travellers. Sorry, but that's the impression out there. It's the numbers, the sheer numbers (there may be as many as 2-3 million of them here, mostly in IT), plus the way they've gained a stranglehold on the IT contract labor segment. Those jobs are great ways to get your foot into a cautious company, and they used to be open to us. 

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Jun 30, 2010 10:15 AM Dolores Dolores  says:

It's miserable to be broke and unemployed, and no decent parent would be willing to deliberately send their child down a road that leads in that direction. It would be negligence at best, cruelty at worst. Every good parent wants their children to be happy. It is obvious that decisions were made at a very high level of our government in recent decades to basically give away entire professions and industries for a variety of reasons. Greenspan said we should bring in skilled foreign workers to hold American incomes down, and there are also rumors about trading jobs away to gain "soft influence." A poor bargain in retrospect. I don't want my children to be either cannon fodder or career fodder. The recent devastation in the value of IT careers for American workers is not imaginary. Optimism will not overrule government policies designed to pauperize us in order to curry favor with the third world. I'm not the one stealing my childrens' dreams, I'm the one warning them about the big pothole just ahead. I'd be a lousy parent if I didn't.  I didn't leave sharp or poisonous things around the house when they were babies, and I make sure they have accurate and up to date information to make adult choices. If anyone stole my childrens' dreams, it was collusion between my government and India, Inc.

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Jun 30, 2010 10:20 AM Unemployed IT Workers Unemployed IT Workers  says:

"Stealing Your Kids' Dreams-and Years from Their Lives" !!! Don why don't you just ask yourself who is the one destroys American kid's dreams !!! For me, I would say right of the batch--> Cheap H-1B Visa workers and Cheap Workers Advocates like Don Tennant are destroyed our American kids's dreams not American parents. Nobody stupid enough to send their kids to school with all the student loans up to their head and end up with unemployment. The logic is simple as it is 1 + 1 =2. Kid + IT = unemployment... Bye bye the IT field... Bye bye American dreams...

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Jun 30, 2010 10:34 AM P Henry P Henry  says:

Incredibly well said Dolores.  I'd just add that apparently itbusinessedge.com wants only the cheapest employees instead of the best as otherwise you'd be writing this blog instead of Don.

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Jun 30, 2010 10:43 AM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to P Henry

Thank you P. Henry, and let me add that what I told my kids was: be good with computers, but major in something else. This has worked out well for them in this recession. And, I owe my career longevity to an instructor at a community college who saw my zeal for programming, took me aside, and whispered to me about India. I switched over to network admin and other IT fields (where you had to show up in person) and that worked for me. Sometimes you just have to accept reality and change course, and I don't know why Don seems to have such a problem with that.

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Jun 30, 2010 10:55 AM jake_leone jake_leone  says:

If you can't make a living at it, it's just a hobby.  I've been fortunate to be at my IT job long enough to own a XXXXX (mortgage + equity).  

Yet in that time, seems every few months in last few years, a supervisor will say (something like this) to me, you know Jake we could hire 3 or 4 h-1b contractors for what we pay you. 

If that is what you like hearing, then by all means, get into IT.  Some people like S&M, me I just needed a job, but now I am stuck with they sycophants.

It doesn't matter what they pay you, how much food or freebies they throw at you, if you are wondering where the pessimism comes from, just take a look at the average IT supervisor today.  These guys are consumed with politics and money, that's where you should be looking.

Man I had more job satisfaction when I was a kid working as machinist hearing the boss tell me he was happy with my work.

When was the last time I heard that from an IT supervisor?  Decades ago.  Yet I am still employed, I have been with my current company for 10 years (I am afraid to switch, I need health insurance for my family and I need to pay my mortgage).

Besides, all IT managers are PLAYERS anyway, no sex, but truth is things are just as nasty.  They will all tell you lies to get you in, when you no longer serve their purpose, when you are no longer a feather in their cap, watch out!.  Keep you T's crossed and your eyes wide open.  Document everything, and let them know you have the evidence, so they don't spread lies or misrepresent you in a review.

Don't forget, you work for a company, not your supervisor.

Early on in my career, you'd write a program or API or GUI for someone and they'd be like, that's great, awesome.  For the last 12 years, the retort has been (something like), you did your job, don't forget we could hire 3-4 h-1b contractors for what we pay you.

Yet they keep me, because they know that what I do is extraordinary, but they'll never put that in writing.  My last task had me up at 4 AM and working until 10PM at night for 6 straight weeks.  I am sure that even with that, and not withstanding the fact that they hired a guy with PHd to attempt the same thing as I just accomplished, I'll get a mid-level rating. 

Despite the fact that every employee at my level and below is in awe, my supervisor under pressure from above to keep wages low, will low-rate my accomplishment.

It's just that way.

Dealing/selling/trading the imaginary is not good advice.  People can dream, it's fun, but selling them as real is fraud.  Being fraudulent to your children is a big sin.

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Jun 30, 2010 11:04 AM Tom Tom  says:

what incredible gall you have Don, to scold parents about advising their children about the realities of the government's intentional policy of economic 'dislocation' of careers away from citizens

As if your disinformation weren't bad enough, you have to gall to criticize people for telling the truth

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Jun 30, 2010 11:05 AM Worried Man Worried Man  says:

I have three kids and they are all want to pursue IT fields, unfortunately, I persuaded them not to due to the current outsourcing/insourcing cheap H-1B workers situation. Man !! I am so depressed and I really don't know what to do. Recently, I went around and I did lots research about the employment in other fields. Below are some of my analysis;

For the medical field, I found out the medical field is not good either they imported bunch of h-1b nurses from overseas. I heard a rumor in the future they will import H-1B Pharmacists and Doctors from overseas as well..

For the crunching number like account and finance fields, I just talked to a accounting friend he told crunching numbers jobs are the most easiest field to get outsourced.. He has been out of job since 2005 and he gave up his accounting career.

For the education field, states layoff in bunch.. Some state school districts displace American teachers with cheap H-1B teachers from Mexico and Philippine.

Man !! All I can tell you I am very much in the dead end right now. I don't know what field would be right for my children to pursue. The last resort I would prefer all my kids selling themselves to Uncle Sams as Army, Navy, Airfore officers. ARMY, NAVY !! ALL YOU CAN BE !!

DREAM IS JUST A DREAM.. REALITY IS REAL.. DREAM CAN LEAD YOU ON THE STREET.. DREAM WITHOUT REALITY IS A DREAD DREAM..

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Jun 30, 2010 11:36 AM Donna Conroy Donna Conroy  says:

Another silly, ill-informed column.  It is legal for companies to ignore -and never consider - local US sci & tech talent via corporate visa programs.

US 4th and 8th graders match their German classmates in math and science (actually they score 1 pt higher) in the latest prestigious international TIMSS test.  India and China, the 2 countries that companies recruit most from, don't even participate in the TIMMS.

Black Computer Science graduates essentially reached parity in 2006; no longer can they be dismissed as an "under-represented minority".

Over the past decade, US colleges and universities graduated roughly three times more scientists and engineers than were employed in the growing science and technology workforce.

Indian techs are now warning each other about the extended unemployment they face in this country, wallowing in guest houses that are little more than unemployed camps.

During legal employment discrimination against Blacks & women, it was routine for parents to discourage their children into pursuing fields they would never be consider for.  Even with this discouragement, there was still an oversupply of Black and female talent! 

Employment discrimination ALWAYS produces an oversupply of talent.  Shortages only occurred when employers started considering Blacks and females for jobs they were qualified to do.

Support S.887 and parents won't discourage their children.

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Jun 30, 2010 11:48 AM Vincenzo Vincenzo  says:

Don - blaming us for discouraging our kids is a cop out. Instead of doing the difficult things - like questioning the policies of the U.S.and corporate America, you take the easy way out.

I would like to enumerate (actually, cut and paste) the items in Dr.Norm Matloff's most recent dispatch that make it all too obvious that there's a concerted effort in this country to eliminate the American workforce in the STEM fields (I now quote Dr.Matloff from his H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter dated 5/2010):

"Austin Fragomen is one of the most prominent immigration

attorneys in the U.S. His firm is the largest immigration law firm in

the nation;he writes standard-setting books on immigration law

practice, most notably on H-1B., and most importantly, he has been a

major player in immigration politics.

It is most illuminating, then, to see what Fragomen told Workforce

Magazine in March 1996 (emphasis added): "The business community

mobilized ,

forming American Business for Legal Immigration (ABLI), a Washington,

D.C.-based lobbying group that represents a number of associations and

employers, and COMMISSIONS ACADEMIC STUDIES TO SUPPORT ITS POSITION."

The professors who run such a study then shop it to the press (the

"shopping" is done by their universities in many cases), the press

publicizes the study, the industry lobbyists show Congress the press

coverage, etc. The gullible press trusts academia and reports on the

study. The innocent readers (and the putably innocent members of

Congress) see a study coming out of a university, and have no idea that

it had a hidden agenda.

Please note that I am NOT saying that this is the case for Mithas and

Lucas. Instead, I'm using this as an example for Don Tennant as to why

the word "conspiracy" is not so far off base after all.

Or consider the case of Dan Siciliano, a lecturer at the Stanford Law

School. Here's what I reported last year, after the Wall Street Journal

quoted him lavishly extolling the virtues of increasing the yearly H-1B

cap:

 So, what is Siciliano's background for making such strong claims

 about the innovative quality of the H-1Bs? Has he done research on

 H-1Bs, innovation and so on? Well, no. Here are his

 "qualifications":

 Siciliano was previously an immigration lawyer with Bacon and Dear,

 one of the most prominent immigration law firms in the nation

 (www.sinoedu.com/stanford-cg05.htm). Siciliano also is CEO of

 LawLogix, a firm that develops software systems for immigration

 lawyers. To top it off, Siciliano is on the Board of Trustees of,

 and is a research fellow at, the American Immigration Law Foundation,

 the research arm of the American Immigration Lawyers Association...

 So Siciliano has a vested interest in H-1B, to put it mildly.

 Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to mention these things when he talks

 to the press. In the above WSJ article, for instance, he was

 described as "a Stanford economist." When he was on CNBC on March 6,

 he was asked his views "as an educator," and though his affiliation

  Reply

Jun 30, 2010 11:49 AM Vincenzo Vincenzo  says:
with the Immigration Policy Center was mentioned, there was no

 mention of IPC's connection to AILA/AILF, so IPC seemed neutral to

 viewers.

As one more example, consider the Association for Computing Machinery,

the main professional organization for computer science, run largely by

academics. The ACM was alarmed at the decline in computer science

enrollment in U.S.universities, a huge problem for them, since numbers

are power in academia. They attributed the decline to student fear of

offshoring, so they set up a large study with the express goal of

assuring students that offshoring is not a problem. So, the outcome was

a forgone conclusion. Here's what I reported at the time the "study"

came out:

 One member of the ACM study team, Rob Ramer (whom I'm quoting with

 permission here) even contacted me, saying that the atmosphere was

 such that anyone dissenting from the pro-outsourcing line was gently

 marginalized. This member said, "Our sub-committee was often seen as

 alternatively right-wing or anti-business extremists...because we

 kept raising dissenting voices about the pro-offshoring mantra. It

 was a pretty much a consensus among the rest of the committees that

 we were the 'spoil-sports,' even though we repeatedly stated that few

 to none of us were 'anti-outsourcing' in all situations, all we were

 calling for was an examination of the problems as well as the glowing

 success stories. Of course, factual examination is 'spoiling the

 sport' of spin."

Yet, once again, when this study was reported on in the press, the

innocent readers knew none of this. They didn't know that the outcome

was a forgone conclusion, that dissenting voices had been suppressed,

etc. Here was an august mainstream organization, with a largely

academic leadership (the then-president was at UC Berkeley), solemnly

telling the public that, don't worry, there are tons of jobs in the

field, offshoring is nothing to fear, etc., and the poor readers

probably took the report at face value.

One more academic example (there are many): The Wall Street Journal's

"Numbers Guy," Carl Bialik, ran a good analysis of the claim by NFAP

that the hiring of each H-1B creates five new jobs. Bialik got much

more into the statistical methodology aspects than usual, and raised

good questions about the validity of the NFAP claim. Here's what I

reported at the time:

 Now this one really intrigued me:

 

  1.  Some researchers find the general premise of the study

 

  1.  persuasive, even if the study didn't prove it.Duke University

 

  1.  statistician David Banks said correlation can't prove causation,

 

  1.  but he did think the study "corroborates the idea that H-1B visas

 

  1.  support job creation." It does so, he says, by contradicting the

 

  1.  theory that companies seek foreign workers to replace domestic

  Reply

Jun 30, 2010 11:49 AM Vincenzo Vincenzo  says:

  1.  ones.

 In reading this, I wondered, "Who is this guy Banks, and why was he

 interviewed by Bialik, out of the literally thousands of statistics

 professors in the nation? What in the world does he have to do with

 H-1B?" Well, it turns out that he works with outspoken immigration

 attorney Bruce Hake! In fact, Banks has coauthored chapters with

 Hake in AILA publications. So Banks is certainly not the impartial

 observer ("finds the study persuasive"!) that Bialik apparently

 thought him to be.

If even the astute Bialik can be fooled, certainly the vast majority of

readers were too.

Concerning Congress, in spite of the fact that most of the populace know

that money talks in DC, most people don't realize the huge impact money

has on H-1B politics. In 2000, for instance, the Senate voted 96-1 to

raise the H-1B cap, in spite of the fact that the GAO had just issued a

report criticizing the program. The GAO study was not mentioned even

once during the floor "debate" on the Bill. Afterward, Sen.Robert

Bennett (R-Utah) remarked, "Once it's clear (the visa bill) is going to

get through, everybody signs up so nobody can be in the position of

being accused of being against high tech. There were, in fact, a whole

lot of folks against it, but because they are tapping the high-tech

community for campaign contributions, they don't want to admit that in

public." Rep.Tom Davis (R-Va.), chair of the Republican Congressional

Campaign Committee. said, "This is not a popular bill with the public.

It's popular with the CEOs...This is a very important issue for the

high-tech executives who give the money." Again, though these

statements were public, the vast majority of voters didn't hear them.

Meanwhile members of Congress tell the populace that they support an

H-1B increase because they are convinced that there's a tech labor

shortage, with H-1B the short-run solution but long-term being--a

favorite excuse--improvements to the educational system. How about

supporting improvements to the political system?

So yes, there is a concerted effort on the part of industry and Congress

to expand H-1B, and no, it's not in the open. Many people WOULD

consider this a conspiracy."

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Jun 30, 2010 12:15 PM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to Donna Conroy

Besides, pursuing an IT career in the age of India, Inc. sure didn't do anything for Kevin Flanagan's happiness or longevity. And there have been others you haven't heard about.

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Jun 30, 2010 12:35 PM Tom Tom  says:

We're entering an arrogant new phase of the immigration debate.

In the case of the Arizona situation, we have a federal government, who claims our immigration system is 'broken', suing the state of Arizona for attempting to enforce via a mirror of the federal law.  In other words, the federal government is enforcing the non-enforcement of policy.

Any 'benefit of the doubt', that the job is 'difficult', the 'laws dont work', or that the feds have 'just been negligent' goes out the window.  They are deliberately not enforcing the laws, and going after anyone who trys to make up the difference.  The fed have made a de-facto admission that everything they've said about why they cant enforce the law is one big fat lie.

There's a parallel in what you're doing Don,  you've refused to perform a traditional journalistic duty to objectively cover an issue (Ironically, we're found a job 'Americans wont do'), and now that the average citizen is making up the difference via word of mouth to their kids, you try to stop it

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Jul 1, 2010 3:45 AM James James  says: in response to Vincenzo

And there have been any number of scientiic studies that show that 1) America is being duped by a NASSCOM-paid media occupied by washed up hippie-commie shills like Don, 2) there is no shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. 3) Americans who created the IT industry have been screwed out of their rightful due by the greedy and undeserving third world and social manipulators like the gov't and corporate media. Americans have come to realize that IT has become a big joke. Americans like Norm Matloff are quite intelligently staying away from IT. America makes, the world takes. How many new industries have India/China/Russia/Japan given to American workers for free? NONE. As Americans, we keep doing this over and over and then wonder what is causing the boom/bust cycles. It's the International Socialism called Globalization, stupid.

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Jul 2, 2010 2:41 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:

Wow Don, NOW I KNOW THAT YOU ARE AN INDUSTRY SHILL! We just need to find out who's paying you.

EXPOSING DON'S CORPORATE SHILL AGENDA

The problem with this article is that the mere fact that you wrote an article on this subject contradicts your past assertions about these "disenchanted IT workers" being only a tiny minority of the Information Technology workforce.

Let me clarify the situation if you don't see the inherent contradiction in writing this article:

If these "disenchanted IT workers" are only a tiny minority of IT workers, then why bother writing an article on them? Is it merely to mock them and rub salt in their wounds? Yet if these "disenchanted IT workers" are not a tiny minority, then why are they not a tiny minority when there is supposedly a shortage of skilled workers in the IT field? Wouldn't this indicate a high probability that IT is an unstable field that will not provide the stable income that is necessary for paying a mortgage and raising a family? Wouldn't it be wise for parents to warn their kids to avoid a job field that is obviously not going to provide a stable income? Isn't that the going joke about Liberal Arts degrees-don't go into Liberal Arts because it doesn't pay and you most likely won't get a job in your major?  Why is the same logic being applied to Information Technology and other STEM fields? ANSWER: Because IT and many other STEM fields have become so unreliable for workers looking for a stable income that it is not worth the effort. Don, we're not talking about selling cupcakes at a bake sale here, we are talking about making a living, paying a mortgage, supporting a family and sending kids to college-things that require a STABLE CAREER-not one where huge pompous egos, "corporate culture", and corporate interests are looking for every convenient excuse to get rid of you after you reach the age of 40.

You can't have it both ways, Don-there cannot simultaneously be only a small number of "disenchanted IT workers" and also be a large number of "disenchanted IT workers". So which is it Don? Too small to be of importance or so large that the issue needs to be addressed? Editors and pro-industry advocates typically don't like their writers (or propagandist shills Don?) to waste time addressing a tiny audience on a subject that is of negligible importance, so I think it is safe to assume that your EDITORS AND SPONSORS ACTUALLY DO THINK THIS IS A BIG DEAL. So we really are not talking about small numbers of IT / STEM workers who are "disenchanted workers", we are talking about a LARGE NUMBER.

Here's the problem Don: The "labor shortage" propaganda just doesn't make sense. There cannot simultaneously be BOTH A LABOR SHORTAGE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND A LACK OF JOBS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. If there was an actual shortage of labor, people with ANY COMPUTER SKILLS NO MATTER HOW OLD WOULD BE ABLE TO EASILY GET A JOB. Yet despite the supposed shortage of IT workers, it is obvious by the reader comments in any Information Technology related web publication that many IT people are unemployed and having extreme difficulty getting jobs. Now I know what your reply is going to be (you're so predictable)-you are going to claim that all these "disenchanted IT workers" are either lazy, have not kept up on skills, or are racists.

This begs the question, then:  Reply

Jul 2, 2010 2:41 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:
Why are so many IT workers unable to keep up on their skills? Is it really because they are lazy? Or is there something else going on? Could it be that Corporate America has an agenda to discriminate against older workers? If so, why?

Most of us already know that the answer to that question is "YES, Corporate America does have an agenda against older (and even younger) IT workers". That agenda is: Why use U.S.citizen labor that can participate in a free labor market when you can get a foreign H-1B "guest worker" that is subjected to Indentured Servant-like employment conditions that allow the employer to pay the guest worker substantially less money (20% - 35% less) while also being able to make the guest worker work substantial extra overtime and still have none of the extra benefits that U.S.citizen workers get? Not only that, but if the worker complains, you can terminate him with hardly a worry of legal action.

Getting back to the "labor shortage" propaganda just not making sense:

1. If there really was a labor shortage, salaries would go up substantially-this simply has not happened.

2. To create the fallacy of a skilled IT "labor shortage" you and Corporate America use the excuse that industry absolutely needs experience in certain skill sets and thus needs to import H-1Bs who have experience in those skills. Yet this excuse contradicts the facts from the FLC government data that over 50% of H-1Bs are hired in at the LOWEST SKILL LEVEL, i.e.the level of a freshly graduated college student. If there really was a skilled labor shortage, employers would simply hire all of those "disenchanted IT workers" and re-train them, after all, if they can use the lowest skill level H-1Bs for these positions, then they could certainly use experienced IT workers for these positions. If they are not allowing older workers into these positions, then your assertion that IT is a good field to into is false because industry is always favoring younger workers, thus confirming the "disenchanted IT worker's" claim that Corporate America is BIASED AGAINST OLDER WORKERS.

3. I already know what you are going to say about item #2 (you're so predictable)-you are going to assert that the freshly graduated student has some "hot new technology" knowledge that older workers don't. Well again, much like in item #2, THIS SUPPORTS THE CLAIM THAT CORPORATE AMERICA IS BIASED AGAINST OLDER WORKERS AND THEREFORE IT IS NOT A GOOD FIELD TO GO INTO.

As long as we are on the issue of the supposed "hot new tech skills" that college students supposedly possess, this is also a fallacy. You don't major in Java, you don't major in Oracle, and you don't major in the Spring, Hibernate, or Struts frameworks-you major in Computer Science. Computer Science curricula, at best, can only give a broad overview of a technology and usually does not actually teach the latest hot new skills, and not only that, all of this new technology is simply built on all of the base skills of abstractions, problem solving, and computer architecture that have been part of Computer Science curricula for decades.

I looked at the Computer Science curriculum from the state University that I attended and found that there was only a difference of what amounted to three classes. THREE CLASSES-THAT'S IT! That's the difference between a twenty year old education and today's technology.  Reply

Jul 2, 2010 2:41 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:
Not only that, but since these classes concentrated on a broad range of technologies, only about half of it-amounting to about one and a half classes, is all that really mattered for any particular single job that I have seen on the job websites.

Learning the largest and most important part of this knowledge, Object Oriented Programming, can easily be accomplished with the "boot camp" type class structure where you attend a week or two long class for 8-10 hours a day. Since even older IT workers know the abstraction, problem solving, and computer architecture basics already, much of the new knowledge just falls into place. Here's a hint: If you forgo excessively complex and exhaustive comprehensive examinations of Object Oriented Programming like the books from Booch, Jacobson, and Rumbaugh in favor of a book like "OOP Demystified" by Jim Keogh and Mario Giannini you can pick up the concepts of Object Oriented Programming in a week or two of reading. For Java learning, read chapters 1-8, 11, 13 and 14 of Sun's "Core Java, Volume 1-Fundamentals" and take Sun's one-week Java class. All together, any competent programmer can easily learn the essentials of Java that are necessary to perform at a reasonable capacity by doing the above and creating a small application himself in about 8-10 weeks of unemployment.

Skeptical?

The above type of thing is done with inexperienced H-1Bs all the time-you know, the guys that look like they're 23 years old but are filling a job opening that specified 8-9 years of experience of multiple "hot skills" (yeah, they started doing computer work when they were 14, right?WINK WINK, NOD-you guys doing the interviews at Fortune 500 companies and tech consulting companies know what I am talking about). In fact, many Indians don't know why more Americans can't just learn on the job like Indian H-1Bs do-WE CAN, BUT EMPLOYERS WON'T HIRE US DUE TO CORPORATE AMERICA'S DISCRIMINATION AGENDA AGAINST EXPERIENCED WORKERS AND THE AVAILABILITY OF CHEAP FOREIGN LABOR AT SUBSTANTIAL DISCOUNTS TO THE GOING MARKET LABOR RATE.

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Jul 2, 2010 2:51 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:

EXPOSING DON'S CORPORATE SHILL AGENDA - PART 2

If Corporate America was really as desperate for workers as the phony 'skilled labor shortage' shills claim, deals could be worked out where an experienced employee in an older technology can take a lower salary to cover the cost of the training and reduced efficiency of his first year of employment by taking a lower salary for the first year or by the employer giving part of agreed on salary as a bonus based on performance.  If that is somehow not possible then the employer can always simply employ the worker who is being re-trained as a contractor at a lower starting wage.  If the contractor does not perform, then the company does not have to hire the contractor that is being re-trained and in fact can terminate them any time-just like they do with H-1Bs.  This contractor arrangement is done all the time with H-1Bs except that the H-1B pretends that he has 6-9 years of experience in new 'hot skills' and the hiring client (many times a Fortune 500 company) pretends that they can't determine that the H-1B has no experience.  WINK WINK, NOD.

Don, the contractor scenario I just outlined above is exactly what is done for H-1Bs.  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON THAT SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT COULD NOT ALSO BE EXTENDED TO U.S. CITIZEN WORKERS WHO WANT TO RE-TRAIN.  A U.S. citizen worker on contract can be terminated just as easily as an H-1B worker can if he does not learn the material in a reasonable amount of time.  Are you going to tell me that NO U.S. CITIZEN CAN LEARN ON THE FLY LIKE THE H-1Bs ARE GIVEN A CHANCE TO DO?  The only reasonable explanations as to why the same contracting arrangement is not widely available to U.S. citizens, especially older U.S. citizens (as it is to H-1Bs) is due only to the following:

1.The dishonest profit motives of corporate management in this country to use cheap, highly exploitable foreign labor that cannot participate freely in the U.S. labor market.

2.Age discrimination.

3.Racism and profit motive on the part of the body shops and the major Indian outsourcers like Tata, Wipro, Infosys etc. that have staffs that consist almost exclusively of H-1Bs and almost no U.S. citizens.  For example, even though Tata Consultancy had 10,843 workers in the United States in 2007, only 739 (9%) were Americans. Why are these firms not interested in hiring American workers?  Infosys' on-site workers, almost all of whom are foreign guest workers, directly accounted for 46% of its revenue in its most recent quarter (Infosys 2009). And according to a Tata Consultancy Services executive, H-1B workers are less expensive than comparable American workers. Then Vice President Phiroz Vandrevala described, in an interview with an India-based business magazine, how his company derives competitive advantages by paying its visa holders below-market wages:  Our wage per employee is 20-25 percent lesser than U.S. wage for a similar employee,' Vandrevala said. 'Typically, for a TCS employee with five years experience, the annual cost to the company is $60,000-70,000, while a local American employee might cost $80,000-100,000. This (labour arbitrage) is a fact of doing work onsite. It's a fact that Indian IT companies have an advantage here and there's nothing wrong in that.The issue is that of getting workers in the U.S. on wages far lower than local wage rate. (Singh 2003)  (from 'Bridge to Immigration or Cheap Temporary Labor?  The H-1B & L-1 Visa Programs Are a Source of Both' by Ron Hira, Economic Policy Institute, Feb 17 2010 http://epi.3cdn.net/60b75ba377ebc081b5_hem6b5qjc.pdf)

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Jul 2, 2010 2:52 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:

EXPOSING DON'S CORPORATE SHILL AGENDA - PART 2

If Corporate America was really as desperate for workers as the phony "skilled labor shortage" shills claim, deals could be worked out where an experienced employee in an older technology can take a lower salary to cover the cost of the training and reduced efficiency of his first year of employment by taking a lower salary for the first year or by the employer giving part of agreed on salary as a bonus based on performance. If that is somehow not possible then the employer can always simply employ the worker who is being re-trained as a contractor at a lower starting wage. If the contractor does not perform, then the company does not have to hire the contractor that is being re-trained and in fact can terminate them any time-just like they do with H-1Bs. This contractor arrangement is done all the time with H-1Bs except that the H-1B pretends that he has 6-9 years of experience in new "hot skills" and the hiring client (many times a Fortune 500 company) pretends that they can't determine that the H-1B has no experience. WINK WINK, NOD.

Don, the contractor scenario I just outlined above is exactly what is done for H-1Bs. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON THAT SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT COULD NOT ALSO BE EXTENDED TO U.S.CITIZEN WORKERS WHO WANT TO RE-TRAIN. A U.S.citizen worker on contract can be terminated just as easily as an H-1B worker can if he does not learn the material in a reasonable amount of time. Are you going to tell me that NO U.S.CITIZEN CAN LEARN ON THE FLY LIKE THE H-1Bs ARE GIVEN A CHANCE TO DO? The only reasonable explanations as to why the same contracting arrangement is not widely available to U.S.citizens, especially older U.S.citizens (as it is to H-1Bs) is due only to the following:

1.The dishonest profit motives of corporate management in this country to use cheap, highly exploitable foreign labor that cannot participate freely in the U.S.labor market.

2.Age discrimination.

3.Racism and profit motive on the part of the body shops and the major Indian outsourcers like Tata, Wipro, Infosys etc.that have staffs that consist almost exclusively of H-1Bs and almost no U.S.citizens. For example, even though Tata Consultancy had 10,843 workers in the United States in 2007, only 739 (9%) were Americans.Why are these firms not interested in hiring American workers? Infosys' on-site workers, almost all of whom are foreign guest workers, directly accounted for 46% of its revenue in its most recent quarter (Infosys 2009).And according to a Tata Consultancy Services executive, H-1B workers are less expensive than comparable American workers.Then Vice President Phiroz Vandrevala described, in an interview with an India-based business magazine, how his company derives competitive advantages by paying its visa holders below-market wages: Our wage per employee is 20-25 percent lesser than U.S.wage for a similar employee," Vandrevala said."Typically, for a TCS employee with five years experience, the annual cost to the company is $60,000-70,000, while a local American employee might cost $80,000-100,000.This (labour arbitrage) is a fact of doing work onsite.It's a fact that Indian IT companies have an advantage here and there's nothing wrong in that.The issue is that of getting workers in the U.S.on wages far lower than local wage rate.(Singh 2003) (from "Bridge to Immigration or Cheap Temporary Labor?  Reply

Jul 2, 2010 2:52 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:
The H-1B &L-1 Visa Programs Are a Source of Both" by Ron Hira, Economic Policy Institute, Feb 17 2010 epi.3cdn.net/60b75ba377ebc081b5_hem6b5qjc.pdf)

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Jul 2, 2010 3:16 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:

Hey Don,

I hear that BP is looking for a few good shills...One of their big Congressional shills - Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) could probably also use a good corporate propaganda guy after having his own toxic spill...of his real thoughts.  You ought to check these out...I'm sure the oil companies pay better than NASSCOM, and A LOT OF PROPAGANDA IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE SPREAD TO CLEAN UP THESE MESSES...

Say, you didn't perhaps work for the Tobacco industry at one time did you...?

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Jul 2, 2010 5:05 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says:

BTW Don,

The bit in your article about Catherine Jewell saying that its a mistake for parents to sway their children from any career path is a bunch of nonsense - neither you nor her have worked in IT and are absolutely clueless about the conditions in this field.

Oh, wait - I get it now - YOU'RE SHILLING FOR HER TOO!  Hyperlink and everything.  Wow Don, nothing like a few extra bucks under the table to pay for a little extra vacation, eh?

As far as my relatives and directing their kids not to go into IT is concerned, I have a relative with a genius-level IQ and up-to-date computer skills who was making $200K a year early in this decade doing IT development for the financial trading industry.  Then he was laid off and had only about 9 months of contract employment over a period of about 5 years.  They nearly lost their house and almost wend bankrupt.  In late 2008 he was able to get a job with a major trading software company through a reference from a friend at a brokerage where he used to work.  Apparently the software development he had done using this trading software company's proprietary API had much higher performance and response than any other system they had ever seen using their proprietary API.  The new job pays $150K / year.

Are you going to tell me that somehow a guy making $150 - $200K with up-to-date hot skills is suddenly unemployable and worth nothing for a period of 5 years where he cannot even get low-priced contracts or jobs at a salary that is vastly less than what he was making?  All of this at  a time when there is supposedly this "desperate shortage of skilled IT labor"?

Needless to say that the experience of their family nearly loosing the house and almost going bankrupt was all the kids needed to persuade them NOT TO GO INTO IT.

Its pretty tough to try to change careers in your 40s after Corporate America forces you out of IT due to age discrimination, yet many people have had to do this.

Catherine Jewell states "I think anything you can do to get a more positive outlook is what you should be doing." - I think that having the piece of mind and more positive outlook that goes with knowing that your kids are avoiding IT is a good place to start.

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Jul 3, 2010 5:06 AM Proud of my daughter Proud of my daughter  says: in response to supportUSworkers

There was a kid (I'm guessing 15) at the San Diego .net code camp last weekend. He had his mother drop him off to pursue his passion. Everyone was very encouraging to his face. He went home after the raffle with a book, some software, and sugar plumbs dancing in his head.

Someone should have warned him that those nice IT mangers and recruiters handing him business cards were on the look out for top IT talent at a fresh out of high school bargain price. That if he didn€™t stay in school he would end up running a corporate web site for $10 dollars an hour for some scruple less IT manager.

I saw a lot of my daughter in him. When she was his age, she was an IT prodigy, too. She loves computers and she is a natural at it. At seven or eight I showed her how to make an algorithm that displayed a Christmas tree using Pascal. Two weeks later on the next visitation she showed me a Dog and a Cat she had made. No small feat. It was pretty amazing stuff for a kid her age.

One weekend 6 years back, she wanted me to fly kits with her. I told her I couldn€™t because I had a bug in one of my programs that needed to be fixed by Monday.  In a little less then an hour doing pair programming with me she had it isolated and fixed. I spent two days staring at that dam thing and she was on the right vector in less fifteen minutes.

Two years ago my ex wife and I had to fight with her tooth and nails to keep her from pursuing computer science major. I€™m happy to say she is two years into her bachelor€™s degree pre-med.

Over the lifetime of her career, she will spend one percent of the time I spend in continuing education and make five times the salary without five year bouts of unemployment. Rather the spending her weekends learning the latest language or putting in unpaid overtime to meet an arbitrary dead line, she will be spending time with her kids enjoying her life. 

Don, if you think we did the wrong thing you can go screw yourself. The world isn€™t loosing an exploitable skilled IT worker bee it is gaining a Doctor.

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Jul 3, 2010 7:58 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says: in response to Proud of my daughter

@Proud of my daughter,

It was DEFINITELY the right move on the part of your ex wife and yourself to steer your daughter away from IT.  Information Technology is the most exploited of all of the STEM fields and medical has FAR LESS ABUSE.

The part you mention about continuing education is especially true.  It has become the expectation that IT workers put in heavy overtime to finish underestimated projects while at the same time keeping up on all of the new, hot technologies.  Much of that expectation is due to the easy availability of highly exploitable foreign guest workers on H-1B and L-1 visas that can be made to put in heavy overtime for low pay.  The attitude is "why should I pay a U.S. citizen the going market rate for skilled labor when there is all this third world labor that is making much less?  Well, it is because the minute you bring that foreign guest worker into the country he should be able to participate freely in or labor markets without any hindrances (like the ones designed into the H-1B visa and employer sponsored Green Card system)-exactly the way it should work for any other worker in the U.S.  Anything less is indentured servitude, something which was supposedly abolished long ago but still exists today in the form of the H-1B visa / EMPLOYER SPONSORED Green Card system.

The real problem with going into Information Technology is that when you compute the REAL HOURLY RATE that you are actually getting once you figure in all the overtime, you really are not getting that great of a deal, especially when you consider the considerable amount of financial risk you are likely to face with Corporate America's "let's replace all of the older workers with below-market rate foreign guest workers" mentality.  STUDENTS:  DON'T EXPECT TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY IF YOU GO INTO IT.

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Jul 4, 2010 1:14 AM Chicken Hero Chicken Hero  says:

Where are you Don Tennant ? Why don't you reply at all man ? Are you just a chicken salad or chicken Sht ? You just post your blame on all American parents and run away without a single reply ? Is it how you are ? or you just want to throw flames and hide your hands under your own ass ? I want to see your opinion on the replies above ... Don't be a chicken sht man !! Come on !! Don't run away from the ring man.. Don't hide yourself under you mommy skirt man.. let show us some of your man hood man..

By the way, don't delete my post man.. Am I am right American Parents ? 

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Jul 4, 2010 5:37 AM supportUSworkers supportUSworkers  says: in response to Chicken Hero

Apparently all Don can do is shill for a living...

So Don, did you always want to be a corporate shill?  Or did your parents discourage you from going into it only to have you return to the career of your dreams in your fifties?  I think it takes a really "special" kind of guy to do that sort of work...

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Jul 4, 2010 7:40 AM Drunken Economist Drunken Economist  says:

Mumbai Don.. I see you're still keepin' it classy as the globalization model falls down around your ears.

I really have nothing to add, so many of the commenters before me have been 10x more eloquent than I could ever hope to be on this matter.

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Jul 7, 2010 6:35 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Chicken Hero

Sometimes life gets in the way of replying to blog comments, my friend. Let me just say this in response to you: I am very happy to stand on my record of expressing my views and responding to comments from people who disagree with me. And I find it awfully ironic that you're accusing me of hiding under a mommy skirt when every word I write is under my own name, while you choose to hide in the shadow of anonymity. I'm just sayin'...

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Jul 7, 2010 9:13 AM Chicken Hero Chicken Hero  says: in response to Don Tennant

Don !

- Almost everybody here used anonymity not only me. Some is coward and some is not. We  

should not discuss anonymity here .. OK ..

- Almost all the replies here are against you. It is fine for to be proud of your own record of NASSCOM Pimp or Shill whatsoever..

- At last you replied. To me you are still under your mama skirt, it has not changed my opinion a bit. Why don't you change "From Under the Rug" to "From Under Mama Skirt".

I have nothing to say but you should do research before you jump into the ring. You falsely accused American Parent from your own record without a bit of your own thinking and research. You should not expect people here be nice to you when you tried to poke in their face. Just accept the fact most people here don't like you and who care..

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Jul 8, 2010 5:49 AM Vincenzo Vincenzo  says: in response to Don Tennant

Don - difference is you get paid and probably have been offered other opportunities due to your opinions.  We, on the other hand, face possible black listing if we express our opinions under our real names.  How very brave (and convenient) for you.

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Jul 14, 2010 9:24 AM mataj mataj  says:

I had stolen mine children's dreams by steering them away from IT field a long time ago. I still believe I did the right thing. Job statistics says so. Unemployment among IT gradates is by far the highest, and only a small fraction of them actually manage to find the job in the field they studied for.

People like you, on the other hand, are giving other's children dreams while stealing their future at the same time. If study is investing into oneself, you are like Bernie Madoff.

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Jul 19, 2010 4:14 AM cosplay cosplay  says: in response to Vincenzo

I'm not sure, but it looks like a possible good deal on some products that are likely to be replaced in 2010

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Jul 27, 2010 9:10 AM Caterina Pryde Caterina Pryde  says: in response to Vincenzo

Oh, Vincenzo, you rock. As an IT professional, I can say that I have seen the effect of H1-B visa programs up close, and it's killing us. Don's article, berating as bad parents is just garbage, trying to use our feelings to sway us, instead of any factual basis. Thanks V for the serious facts and references. For my own part, I have watch rates in my area drop up to 50% for senior experts in just the past 2 years, way way beyond the average drop due to the recession.

Another item no one has mentioned is the poor quality of work and documentation left by these workers. I frequently get work on projects being re-done, documentation needing to be re-written because it only has a passing familiarity with spelling and none with grammar... or logic, and seeing long-term projects or thought to be successful projects in trouble or failed due to a lack or code comments in English, improper functions arguments and variables because of spelling or word choice errors, and lack of understanding of quality requirements, like scalability, that aren't inherently obvious at the beta. I truly believe that in the long run, foreign IT workers frequently cause a company more, but they are chasing short term profit and don't realize it. There are a few American companies that will not hire H1-B visa workers anymore. One thing all of them have in common is robust processes that allow for long term project success analysis.

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