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How Companies Are Preparing For the IT Workforce Exodus 248

Posted by samzenpus
from the heading-off-into-the-sunset dept.
itwbennett writes "If you think there's a glut of contract IT workers now, just wait. 10,000 U.S. baby boomers will turn 65 every day from now until 2030, and at least some of them will want to ease into retirement. This may sound like music to the ears of IT organizations who already would rather hire temporary staff with specialized expertise — especially for working on legacy technologies. 'The contractor ratio, already high in tech, will continue to increase as companies allow retiring staff to work part-time hours or hire them for short-term projects,' says Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at IT staffing firm Modis."
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How Companies Are Preparing For the IT Workforce Exodus

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  • OP or tune it ee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:06AM (#44651873) Journal
    If you're in tech now the geezers are finally going to let you move up by retiring.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:21AM (#44651931)

      Yeah, if you want to work for India Business Machines or Chinese Info Systems COmpany. Speak much Hindi or Mandarin?

      The retirements just mean another faux "shortage" of talent to support more offshoring and H1B programs.

      But then, I hear the NSA is hiring...

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Or your state's IT department, or one of your state's many agencies. Or the federal government or its myriad arms. Or any city/county that's been around for a while. All of these have IT geezers who are ready to go fishing forever. You are trying to find nettles in a field of berries.
      • by RMingin (985478)

        Funny that you would choose that joke. NSA is actually *firing* almost all it's sysadmins.

        This will be hilarious in a few years, when their new highly automated system has a problem and they desperately want to contract some of those canned admins back in.

        http://it.slashdot.org/story/13/08/09/1419228/nsa-firing-90-of-its-sysadmins [slashdot.org]

        • by Gilmoure (18428)

          Management says they want to fire 90% of their employees (what's the inverse of decimate; 1/decimate?). My boss would like to cut payroll by 90% as well but he ain't. Yet.

      • by bberens (965711)
        I don't know where you work, but around here there really is a shortage. IT unemployment is under 3% that means if you have any kind of usable skills and want a job you probably have one. Being on the hiring end of the interviews I can say it's VERY hard to find candidates that are even in the ballpark of our required skill sets. We don't do H1Bs directly but will via consulting firms. We have a team of about 10 of them working on a segregated project. The entire dev team here is probably 50-ish on var
        • by Sigma 7 (266129)

          Being on the hiring end of the interviews I can say it's VERY hard to find candidates that are even in the ballpark of our required skill sets.

          I've been seeing this a lot - the first major job search I did was part of co-op, and employers were demanding ~5 years of crystal reports which is well beyond those who are in college and learning stuff for the first time.

          There is only a shortage of purple squirrels. If you look for actual talent, or actually spend time to train a newcomer (90 days for basic tasks,

    • Re:OP or tune it ee (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @03:09AM (#44652125)

      If you're in tech now the geezers are finally going to let you move up by retiring.

      If you thinks it's the geezers that are holding you back, you should probably look for a job in another field. If anything, geezers are the ones being fired because they make too much.

      • Re:OP or tune it ee (Score:5, Interesting)

        by symbolset (646467) * on Friday August 23, 2013 @03:20AM (#44652157) Journal
        Strokes grey beard - tell me more, young AC.
      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Make too much sense? Tech seems to be one of the few places has at least a tendency to pay people what they're worth.

    • Why wait until your boss retires... why not assist him on his way to his final reward. What do you think crawl spaces are for anyway?

      And what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Got an ambitious underling? There is always more room under the office.

      The only downside is getting the fingers to un-stiffen enough to sign your references. You would think that the blood and putrid remains on the resume might cause questions, but real businessmen understand. Everyone has a few skeletons in their closet

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, they'll retain their position and likely their pay, only moving to part-time work. So they still get to career-block you, but now they can do it from home. Nothing like a GS 13/14/15 who manages to never be in the office, yet still holds a slot and draws a check. We are horribly shorthanded these days due to this crap, despite being "overstaffed."

      • I can't see how you can do that "officially", but we do have a few scammers that "work" from offsite but somehow can't seem to answer emails. Like I told my boss, when *I* work at home I'll actually answer an email or a phone call.
        • I can't see how you can do that "officially", but we do have a few scammers that "work" from offsite but somehow can't seem to answer emails.

          Your username seems an apt description of said individuals.

    • Re:OP or tune it ee (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday August 23, 2013 @07:40AM (#44653073)

      I've been listening to this "The Baby Boomers are going to retire and all you Gen-Xers and Millenials will have jobs aplenty!!" horseshit for decades now. But I have never see it happen. Most of the boomers I've known are way too self-centered and selfish to ever voluntarily surrender any power ("Me Generation" indeed) . In my field, I think I've seen more old boomers die at this point than retire. They just stay around forever like some kind of mold, getting in the way, collecting their big paychecks, and preventing anyone else from advancing (or innovating).

      Sorry to sound bitter. I'm sure there are plenty of great boomers out there. But in the places I've worked, I've come to see them mostly as a pain-in-the-ass and obstacle to be overcome.

      • by boristdog (133725) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:23AM (#44653477)

        I've heard it too, and I'm making it a reality, for myself at least. I'm not a true "boomer", since I was born in the mid-60's, but I'm not really whatever they call what came next, either.

        But I see what's happening with the lack of jobs. So I'm saving my money, paying off all my debts, building up some alternate income sources and I plan to retire in about 5 or 6 years in my early 50's so someone younger can have my high-paying programmer/dba/analyst job. I don't need a huge house (kids are gone) or an expensive car, expensive 5 star vacations, etc. All I need is health insurance, my little place, my pets, my garden, a good car, lots of inexpensive vacations to fun places and some side work to keep me busy and I'm a happy SOB.

        Turns out that none of that costs much except health insurance. And the republicans in my state want to keep me from getting affordable health care. So I can't retire until I can get that. And neither can my older co-workers. So we have to work, causing young people to be shut out of the good jobs, causing an economic crisis.

        All because a bunch of petulant little whiners in government don't want people to have affordable health insurance because it may make the black man in the White House look good..

      • Don't know if this helps but 5 million people went on social security 2010 and 2011 vs 5 million people from 2000 to 2009.

        Most men and almost all women retire by age 65. I think the numbers are like 75% and 90% respectively. Those who keep working are mostly lawyers, politicians, ceo's, and similar types. Not people who punch a clock or work a fixed schedule and mostly people who either enjoy what they do a lot or who have redefined play as work (i.e. going to conferences in spain, hawaii, europe...)

        The

    • Re:OP or tune it ee (Score:5, Informative)

      by jacobsm (661831) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:31AM (#44653561)

      I'm one of those geezers who's planning to retire in the next 5-10 years, currently with 34 years of zOS Systems Programmer experience behind me. if you want my job you're going to need to know;

      S390 Assembler
      How the operating system works
      What to do when it doesn't
      Data management.
      Storage management.
      Hardware configuration.
      Data Encryption and security.
      Networking.
      Obscure business logic.
      Knowing what to do, and more importantly why you MUST do it.
      Knowing what NOT to do, and why it's a really bad idea.
      Knowing what rules to make.
      Knowing when to break the rules, and when not to.
      Knowing when to tell Management they're an idiot, and they accept it because of your track record on being right.

      Do you get the picture?

      • by BVis (267028)

        No, you need to know enough to migrate to something that isn't three decades old.

        These 'rules' that you speak of, what makes you think the engineers/developers have any input on those? The only leverage you have on some of this stuff is to quit if what they're asking you to do is stupid enough. (Actually, first, you get a new job offer, then you tell management "I'm not doing that." When they threaten your job, you tell them "That's fine, either way, it's not getting done." But, they WILL call your bluf

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:15AM (#44651899)

    "...says Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at IT staffing firm Modis"

    Should we even take this post at face value?

  • Glut of IT workers? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pthisis (27352) on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:33AM (#44651969) Homepage Journal

    If you think there's a glut of contract IT workers now ...then you lack a basic understanding of labor markets.

    Computer Programmers: 3.7%
    DB Admins: 1.3%
    Network and sysadmins: 3.9%
    Network and data analysts: 3.9%
    Software devs, application, and systems software: 4.0%

    Those are the current unemployment rates for workers in those occupations. It's pretty much the same for all IT occupations; there are few enough workers that companies are having a tough time filling jobs, and even moderately skilled employees aren't having trouble finding jobs.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323936804578229873392511426.html [wsj.com]

    • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Friday August 23, 2013 @03:58AM (#44652275)

      Second that ; whenever we try hiring, the standard of the applicants is utter, utter, dross.

      They typically exhibit faults like

      * Lacing basic reading comprehension

      For example, they tender applications for development jobs... when they were applying for testing.

      * Apply for every job

      When I apply for a job, I read the application and compose a precise strike covering letter, tailor my CV, the full treatment, because there are so few jobs out there that would interest me. These guys cut and paste applications into a huge list of jobs and it shows. Why would I want to hire someone who isn't interested in my position?

      * Lack basic English skills

      Spelling and grammar mistakes are a no-no. Successful software development is about communication - communicating with the user to get the requirements right, communicating with the computer to implement them. I don't wish to hire someone who displays difficulty communicating with concision in any of their chosen languages. Writing incomprehensible goobledegook in your job application will get it canned. Without wishing to be biased, this applies equally to the many Indian applicants (they outnumber the natives, typically) we receive responses from.

      * Being unable to program

      You'd think this would deter most folks from applying from programming jobs, but apparently many people have no shame. While I don't expect people to reinvent wheels like ArrayList, I do expect you to know how they are constructed.

      * Lacking any kind of initiative

      If you're asked a tough logic problem in an interview, even if you're stumped, you don't give up. If you attack it in a way that reveals some kind of thought process going on, I will give you credit for it.

      • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Friday August 23, 2013 @03:59AM (#44652281)

        And of course, the spelling and grammar nazi has made an error in his post!

        <fires self>

      • by ruir (2709173)
        I guess that paying them a decent salary is out of question, then?
        • What, isn't $33k/yr for someone living on the coasts a comfortable salary? ;) Maybe if the barriers to entry in the field weren't so high, more people would apply for all those openings that apparently exist. Every once in a while you see an "ask Slashdot" post where someone new to the field is struggling to get their first job due to the lack of experience.
          • Wouldn't it be great if we had something like a help desk position, low entry requirements and easy to do.
            We could then use those jobs to find the people who love computers and as they excel and learn they could move into Jr Admin or L1 positions.
            The ones that excel at the Jr. Admin/L1 positions could learn and move into L2 positions.
            Those that excel at L2 could learn and move into an L3/Engineer
            Those exceptional Engineer's could move into Architect positions

            That would never happen, that would have to stop

            • I was referring to programming/software development positions, not support/systems administrator. Many positions require some past work experience, it is impossible to find entry level positions in the field in most locations. I don't work in an IT related field, instead I put my programming and analytical skills to work elsewhere.
      • Why would I want to hire someone who isn't interested in my position?

        Because you need their skills perhaps? I don't hire a plumber because he likes my house, I hire him because he can fix my boiler.

      • Shortage of good candidates? If that is true, and you'd like to know who is responsible, look in a mirror.

        One can have only just so many horrifying Dilbertesque employment experiences before ideas like a change of careers, or early retirement start to look attractive. Trying to become an independent consultant or start your own business looks daunting, but that's the direction I've been pushed. The prices that a sweatshop employer asks-- the humiliations, constant accusations of laziness and incompeten

        • When I entered IT, we were kind of the priest kings. Good pay, bad hours, reasonable status.

          As I retired from IT, we were a cost center. Good pay, ridiculous hours plus nights and weekends and almost all holidays, terrible status.

          I couldn't recommend it as a career to anyone. The technology changes too fast these days and age discrimination is blatant and harsh.

          Offshoring competition is harsh tho I think it will start easing in under 8 years. Their wage inflation is incredible (20% a year) and their wi

      • by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Friday August 23, 2013 @12:33PM (#44657149) Homepage

        Well, I can maybe help you with some of your hiring practices - as an experienced IT guy who's been out of work a few times over the last few years, and have been looking to better my situation for a lot longer, I might be able to tell you why qualified applicants aren't applying.

        First: Are you putting a ballpark salary in the advertisement, or is it some nonanswer like "DOE" or "Market" or "Going Rate"? Because all three of those have prevent me from submitting my resume in the past, as I'm assuming that you're just going to rape me on my paycheck. Oh, you mean I need to get a phone interview (during my workday), I need to take a day off for a face to face, and then IF I'm able to impress you enough you'll tell me that the most you'll pay me is 2/3 of going rate (but I'll get a raise in six months! pinky swear!)

        Second (and speaking of pay anyway): Are you actually giving market value to your IT guy or are you underpaying him/her by 20% like most of the rest of the world? When someone is hiring me to do server work, helpdesk work, database work, managing a phone system, running backups, handling rebuilds and break/fix requests they'd better be paying more than $17/hr.

        Something that companies don't seem to realize: *good* IT guys (and no, I'm not cocky enough to think that I necessarily belong to that group) are also really good at research - they HAVE to be to do their job. When I find a job opportunity one of the first things that I do is check online for the salary that I can expect to get. If that's too low, I don't apply. If I'm finding the advert somewhere like Dice or Monster, that has the ability to parse my already written resume and I'm redirected to a site that forces me to [i]manually re-enter all of my fucking information[/i] I'm also disinclined to apply for the position, [b]especially[/b] if the rate of pay is nowhere to be found. The third thing that I check is the climate of the company - do they have a lot of turnover? Are there reviews online with Glassdoor or somewhere else that can let me know *why* there's a high turnover (after all, there may be legitimate reasons...or it could be because your company has no idea how to hire competent managers)

        Now, that third step is optional - if I'm unemployed and looking, that third step is nonexistent (I'd rather work *anywhere* than be unemployed. I can continue looking after getting hired, after all), but if it's a shitty company that treats its IT department like crap, you can bet your ass that two weeks after hiring me I'll be continuing to look for work. In six months I just might be out the door.

        Some might be saying that I'm shooting myself in the foot by being so stubborn about this shit, but honestly, how much of my time do you need to waste just to determine whether I'm a potential fit for your company? Do you really want your time wasted by a technician that you can't afford? Do you really want to squash those excellent IT guys that just simply don't have time (by dint of being overworked and on call all of the fucking time) by making them reinvent the wheel (by manually having to enter in a resume that likely took at least a few hours to put together in the first place)? If you said yes to any of those questions then you're like most of the other companies on the planet and I've answered your question.

        There's another issue that I'll mention here, although it hasn't prevented me from applying at very many jobs: Let your IT department draft the Job Posting. Having your HR department try to grok the difference between Windows and Office is painful enough, but when you have them just throwing down any buzzword that they've heard in the last two weeks you're really not going to get a very good caliber of employee.

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      All they're saying is that the number of CONTRACTOR and/or CONSULTING jobs will go up, as businesses aren't likely to replace all of their aging and retiring in house staff. They aren't saying the overall unemployment rate or even career demand will change. Just that the shift away from in house staff is going to speed up in the next few decades as a result of baby boomers exiting the market.

    • Problem is, companies want skilled IT workers for the cost of an entry level office worker.... That's why they bitch and moan and want to pull workers from overseas.
  • by Swampash (1131503) on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:37AM (#44651989)

    With 10,000 Baby Boomers hitting retirement and putting their hands out for social security while simultaneously ceasing to pay income tax the IT job market should be the least of the US's worries.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      Baby boomers are the next "national security threat."

      • Doies that mean they all get sent to Cuba without trial? Let Castro deal with AARP - that'll do him in for sure - muahahahaha
    • Exactly how many IT workers do you know who will need Social Security when in all likelihood they've been in IT their whole lives making IT money? I don't know about you but by the time I turn 65 I plan to have some kind of nest egg built up. If you're in IT you're not exactly hurting for money (or you're doing it wrong).
      • Lots of people spend money as soon as it comes in. Some even spend money they don't have..

      • Personally, I know many of them who will need that Social Security immediately. Some have moved fiscally up to management, and are in better shape fiscally, but many have been relegated down to "legacy support" or squeezed out of their companies to avoid retirement benefits, or have been working as contractors (which makes savings harder). Many of us were horribly battered financially by the dotcom bubble, and others by the housing market crisis where our savings and housing investments collapsed. Being ou

      • Because SO MANY people just don't cash their checks????WTF????
    • With 10,000 Baby Boomers hitting retirement every day from now until 2030 and putting their hands out for social security while simultaneously ceasing to pay income tax the IT job market should be the least of the US's worries.

      Just clarifying in support of your statement

    • by div_2n (525075)

      Don't use such negative social engineering language. Those folks PAID into the system. They're taking out what they put in. And for IT workers, chances are they will not take out more than they paid in.

      It's true that we are reaching a point where there will soon be more people retiring than can reasonably replenish the money being taken out. But many people totally misunderstand what that means. It means retirees will receive _reduced_ benefits -- not _no_ benefits.

      Funding for Social Security could be fixed

  • I saw this article headline on Feedly, loaded it, went to get a glass of water and when I came back there were only 14 comments, all under my visibility threshold. It sure looked like I was on the wrong side of the exodus.

  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:55AM (#44652081)

    Being a contractor I can earn more money if I'm motivated. Work semi regularly at half a dozen businesses and be exposed to new businesses and people all the time. In good times I can choose between projects that I'm interested in doing.

    • by macbeth66 (204889)

      From my perspective, too many contractors code to get something to work and then move on. You can't maintain or upgrade their crap. At least with an employee, you can make sure they know they will have to fix or explain their crap.

      Crap. What difference does it make. It all sucks.

      I need more coffee. I hear there are animals that poop coffee.

    • Assuming you are a 1099 independent contractor. Factor in the costs for health benefits and the fact that contractors have to pay double the social security/medicare taxes in addition to having to file quarterly taxes.
  • Now maybe the job market will improve! :)
  • I call bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eman1961 (642519) on Friday August 23, 2013 @05:13AM (#44652513)

    First of all, there is no glut right now of competent IT workers. I have lots of buddies (most elderly, so to speak, I'm 52) who have absolutely no shortage of work. I don't see it. I am a contract worker now - bill at a greater rate than I ever have in my life, and have more work than I know what to do with. I turn down 2 out of 3 contracts. I think that people who are not getting IT work need to hone their skills until they have jobs/contracts forced onto them.

    I used to work at Microsoft - I never even *came close* to being stack ranked out. I am not saying that no one was ever incorrectly ranked at the bottom, but I never saw it. The people I saw at the bottom end of the stack rank - I could see the point that the managers were making. One dude was competent, but spent *way* too much time goofing off. And while Microsoft is mostly filled with competent people, make no doubt about it, there are plenty of semi-competent people there. There needs to be a system to get rid of the dead weight.

    Now granted, I am not lazy. I am versed in OO and functional programming. I have developed many large projects in JavaScript, as well as C#. I have written books, written over 1000 blog posts, recorded over 150 screen-casts, and etc. I took a job writing a large system in JavaScript without knowing the language, then taught myself the language, including the functional programming / lamda / closure aspects in 3 weeks. I was 50 at the time. So don't whine about being old and not having the skills. If you don't have them, then get them. If you have them, then you probably have work. And if you have the skilz and don't have work, then blog / screen-cast, and you will have work in short order.

    • The story is about the coming rise in contract workers. With lots of semi-retired baby-boomers around, companies will need to hire far fewer full-time employees. All the geezers will be happy to put in 10-20 hours a week with no expectation of benefits or a high wage - If they've planned properly, they have retirement income. Contract work should be a nice supplement, not their entire income.

      If I'm a hiring manager, I can choose a full-time employee with required health, retirement, etc. benefits, or I ca

      • by ruir (2709173)
        Meh, do you really thing that despite people being old, they are willing to put up with you, extra responsibility, work and work for peanuts? Consultants are consultants, they want to be properly and far better paid. Thats why you should keep employees around, besides having personalised assistance and better security in the long term, they are actually *cheaper* than consultants. A consultancy gig in half a year, can be 5 times the full salary of an employee. That is way people prefer to be constants.
      • by nahpets77 (866127)
        I'm sure it differs per industry, but in my area most employers want 40+ hours a week from contractors. Therefore, somebody only wanting to work 10-20 hours a week wouldn't even be considered for the job.
    • by niks42 (768188)
      Me too. By the way, I got myself a new permanent job at the age of 57, so no real problem in getting hired. I need a job to support my disabled wife, my stepson who is a bankrupt and my grandsons, as well as the rest of the family. Work has very little to do with supporting me.
    • by wcrowe (94389)

      The idiot who wrote the summary used the term "glut" erroneously -- which implies that supply is outstripping demand. The word "glut" does not appear in the article anywhere. The gist of the article is that a lot of jobs will BECOME contract positions where companies want to hang on to aging and valuable workers in order to tap them for their knowledge. I think it's true that there are older workers who want to ease into retirement -- working part time to have some extra income, while avoiding the stress

    • by plurgid (943247)

      Well I call bullshit on your bullshit man.
      This is the same mindset as the myriad of "work at home" MLM schemes my wife has found her self wrapped up in over the years (Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Stampin' Up, yadda yadda yadda).

      Yes sir! If you're a super-motivated outgoing self-promotion machine you too can earn up to* a bajillion dollars a year!

      Here's a bloody obvious thing: everyone can't do that. If everyone did that, then it would not work.

      It worked out for you: congratulations. That *does not* mean

  • computers and the internet started to get big when these people were about 35-40 so unless they went back to college, none of those people are working in IT. I know zero people above 55 working in IT and I know quite a few IT workers in general.
    • by wcrowe (94389)

      You may not be working with any of the industries that were early adopters of IT. If you were to look into the oil industry, automobile industry, government, distribution, and manufacturing, just to name a few, you would find lots of workers 55 and older.

      • by Whorhay (1319089)

        My Father recently retired and he was coding for mainframes as his second job out of college. I work with lots of older people who have been doing IT stuff their whole lives. Some started at banks, others at major local manufactures, and a lot were in the Military as computer operators and such. Shit, my Maternal Grandmother, who died in her 70's nearly a decade ago, changed vacum tubes in her universities computer or some such. IT work has been around for a lot longer than some people seem to think.

  • Is this similar to the "pilot shortage" that the media has been harping about for 20 years but has never actually happened? Don't mind me, I'm just being skeptical of this one.
  • Saying that there is a "glut" of IT contract workers implies that there are too many in relation to demand. But the article suggests that more positions will BECOME contract positions for aging and valuable workers who want to ease into retirement.

  • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:53AM (#44654935)

    My organization wanted to lower headcount, so a couple of years ago they offered early (reduced) retirement to us oldsters. I took it.

    I went back for the office Christmas party last year and found I had been replaced by 3 contractors. The organization wound up spending more money to get my work done than they saved by letting me go.

    Weird and stupid, but I'm enjoying my retirement.

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