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More On the Disposable Tech Worker 323

Jim_Austin writes "At a press conference this week, in response to a question by a Science Careers reporter, Scott Corley, the Executive Director of immigration-reform group Compete America, argued that retraining workers doesn't make sense for IT companies. For the company, he argued, H-1B guest workers are a much better choice. 'It's not easy to retrain people,' Corley said. 'The further you get away from your education the less knowledge you have of the new technologies, and technology is always moving forward.'"
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More On the Disposable Tech Worker

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  • Recycle! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:10PM (#46547143)
    Don't throw your disposable tech workers in the trash. Recycle!
  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:12PM (#46547155)


    The almighty dollar wins again

  • Re:Recycle! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gtall ( 79522 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:12PM (#46547157)

    Hear, hear!! I suppose to the boneheaded CEO, institutional memory means nothing. It is hard to quantify, but without it, your company has no staying power.

  • Old dogs, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DiamondGeezer ( 872237 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:17PM (#46547191) Homepage

    I'm in my late 40s and over the process of 25 years have re-trained myself at least four times to meet the changing nature of IT, and the fact that empires rise and fall.

    Re-training is an essential part of a long IT career, not an option at all. To be honest, I paid for my own re-training because nothing concentrates the mind like putting a lot of money into essential skills and vocational training.

    The reason why they want more H1-Bs is straightforward - its a lot cheaper. Not better. Cheaper.

  • Here's an idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by greywire ( 78262 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:24PM (#46547245) Homepage

    If you want to hire young, recently trained people so you can use them up and discard them before they hit 40, go right ahead and do so.

    But don't expect any special help to further your goals.

    Those people can simply move to america and become citizens if they want to work you. The whole H1-B visa thing is bullshit.

    Or here's another idea. Instead of whining about the impracticality of retraining "old" tech people, why not help them keep their skills up to date while they are working?

    Its called an investment! Its not just about money. Investments include your people. If you treat them right, and invest in them, you will get better results.

    I'm really getting tired of the American mentality of just using up resources and discarding whats left. Its time to stop being the rugged individualists who just consume everything in their path, and start being members of a functional society that works together and supports one another in a conservationist manner.

  • Re:Old dogs, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by preaction ( 1526109 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:25PM (#46547249)

    Dr. Townshend: What the hell's this all about?
    Dr. Kelso: Nothing! I was, uh, just looking over your files and, um... well... your osteoporotic patients aren't on Bisphosphonate; your diabetics aren't on ACE inhibitors. Doug, a lot of your treatments are pretty out of date.
    Dr. Townshend: Come on, Bob, I'm-guys like us, we're set in our ways.
    Dr. Kelso: Well, this is not an age thing, Doug. Hell, these days if you've been out of med school five years, half of what you learned is obsolete. Why do you think I spend every other weekend at a seminar in some two-star hotel ballroom that still stinks of last night's prom vomit? I do it because I have to keep up.

  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:25PM (#46547251)
    You are an idiot. You fail to grasp the difference between knowledge, skills, and experience. Training and education provide knowledge. The ability to apply that knowledge effectively is a skill. Repeatedly applying knowledge and skills creates a virtuous cycle called experience which increases productivity. Productivity is what increases the bottom line. Sometimes that might even take longer than a quarter...

    You're a douche with no understanding of the real world.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:26PM (#46547259)
    We would much rather pay the cost of having younger workers make the mistakes the older workers learned to avoid. This is the problem we see repeatedly. Younger workers buy into the "Oh look, new, shiny!" Older workers look at this "new" idea and say, "Didn't we try that 5 years ago? and 5 years before that? It didn't work either of those times either."
  • Jackasses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:26PM (#46547265) Journal

    For the company, he argued, H-1B guest workers are a much better choice.

    Sure. Why not just take us all out back, put us against the wall, and shoot us? Real responsible attitude, corporate America. What a bunch of fucking jerks. Go ahead, loot and pillage the U.S., what the hell do you care anyway?

  • Aging Business (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Christopher McGinnis ( 2906511 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:28PM (#46547273)
    Statements like these are all the more reason aging tech workers like myself need to build their own businesses so they don't have to rely on the "good graces" of an employer.
  • Re:Not easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:34PM (#46547307)

    Yep. It's always about money. If a company THINKS that it can get a cheaper worker to do the work that you do then that company will try to replace you.

    From TFA:

    In an interview, Papademetriou said that the literature on this issue "has become comfortable with a consensus that basically says that high-end immigration produces more jobs than it takes." However, he didn't put a number on the number of jobs created.

    Maybe they do. After all, SOMEONE has to work at the company providing the "guest workers". But there are really TWO issues here:

    1. Are the "guest workers" driving down the pay of the workers that they're replacing?

    2. WHAT jobs are being created by hiring "guest workers" that would NOT be created by hiring regular workers?

    Slaughter said restrictions on H-1B use have cost the U.S. economy 100,000 new direct jobs over the past year, a figure that rises to 500,000 when indirect jobs are added.

    Again, TWO items:

    1. WHAT are those jobs?

    2. WHICH companies are trying to fill them?

    He shouldn't have any problem showing tens-of-thousands of job openings that have been open for months IF WHAT HE CLAIMS IS CORRECT.

  • Re:Jackasses (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:38PM (#46547345)

    Corporate America doesn't care about the long-term good for employees, and cares little about the quality of product served up to customers. What matters is making the shareholders happy because they can see how much savings have been made by dropping the experienced staff in favour of off-shoring. Short-term gratification, cost reduction, thats what matters. Bugger quality and happy customers.

  • Re:Not easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:47PM (#46547399) Journal

    > "The biggest slap in the face to all of us here is we have to train all of our replacements," said the IT worker.

    I saw this happen in person, during a huge outsourcing of which I was one of the few survivors. This "training our replacements" thing... the problem is, it's difficult to quantify, the "trainers" have little motivation to comply, and the trainees don't have any way of knowing if they're receiving adequate training. So you cutover, and, well in our case it had all the elegance of driving a tour bus off a cliff. But I'm told that in many cases, if the outsourced team was good, things might trundle along for a little while on inertia. Until things start to go wrong, and you suddenly discover, you don't know exactly what has failed or where it's located.

  • by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:59PM (#46547467) Journal

    Retaining knowledge of both software and business requirements is the 4th of Lehman's Laws of Software Development, Conservation of Familiarity. []

    And that law is from 1978. Such knowledge isn't even as recent as the 1980s (a lesson approaching 40 years in age, I was five at the time...), it should be basic guidance at this point in time.

    Anyone that doesn't realize how important knowledge of the business and operations are is one that should be ignored completely.

    Advice: Always seek to learn as much as possible about the business and how it operates/interacts with the external world. This is the secret to NOT being disposable. It's also a great way to meets VP and C-Level executives.

  • Re:Recycle! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:01PM (#46547493) Homepage
    It's sound advice for those who are so driven by greed, that they marginalize the victums they create; and they don't care.
  • Re:Recycle! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:06PM (#46547543)

    Consider the source - FTS: "Scott Corley, the Executive Director of immigration-reform group Compete America"

    This isn't coming from a CEO, it's coming from a political activist. And of course, he is dead wrong about "The further you get away from your education the less knowledge you have of the new technologies...". Someone just out of school hasn't actually worked with the new technologies as they have trickled into existence as someone who has been in the field for years has.

  • Re:Not easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:40PM (#46547781) Homepage

    Corporate America is DIVESTING from America.

    They seem pretty happy to avail themselves of our extremely expensive military when they need their foreign assets protected. And they also seem happy to invest in lobbyists and campaign contributions.

  • Re:Recycle! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mjr167 ( 2477430 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:18PM (#46548053)

    But if we have the correct Processes in place then all the people just become interchangeable, unthinking cogs that blindly follow the all powerful Process!

    If you are having trouble with your people not knowing how to do things or having trouble coming up to speed, then clearly your Process is broken and we need to pay 10 managers to take a week long trip to Hawaii in order to revamp the Process.

    All the workers need to know is how to look up the correct Process and follow their check list. The Process will cover all scenarios and situations imaginable and should never be deviated from.

  • Re:Jackasses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by captjc ( 453680 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:39PM (#46548173)

    Bull, there used to be a thing called company loyalty. There was a time when many companies had the loyalty of their employees because they treated them with respect. You knew these companies because a good portion of the employees were there for decades. These were the companies where a person would get hired fresh from school, trained, and work their way up the ladder and eventually retire with a nice fat pension.

    Everything started to change around the 80's, now everything is about buzzwords and short-term profit. You start treating employees as replaceable at a seconds notice and people will stop seeing their company as nothing but an income and a line on a resume. There was a time that if you had a long list of jobs on your resume people wondered why you couldn't hold a job. Now, it is seen as a sign of success.

  • by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:47PM (#46548199)

    For the company, he argued, H-1B guest workers are a much better choice. 'It's not easy to retrain people,' Corley said.

    No doubt this is true - hiring cheap indentured laborers without rights is more profitable. Which is why they must be denied that option.

    Corporations would employ sweat shops with child labor here*, if we let them. But we don't because while it would be profitable for the sweatshop operator, it would be bad for everybody else.

    If the choice is retraining workers, and not having the workers they need, they will most definitely stop throwing away their workforce.

    *Yes, I know they do that overseas.

  • Re:Recycle! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric Green ( 627 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @02:06AM (#46549439) Homepage

    I'm one of those "too hard to retrain" older programmers. I helped develop the new technologies, so clearly I know them better than some newbie right out of college, so all I can say is WTF? In my experience newbies right out of college don't even know how to properly do object oriented programming, much less know the ins and outs of new technologies such as, say, Groovy/Grails. Which, BTW, I picked up within a few weeks when I needed to do so, because it's just an interpreted Ruby-like language with Java syntax and a thin layer over Hibernate for persistence along with a JSP-like rendering language, all of which were technologies I already knew, so ...

    Of course the next big new web framework technology is going to be Scala / Play which is, uhm, pretty much like other technologies I already know, just "fresh" and "new" (and with some interesting contrasts to Groovy/Grails) so I expect when it comes time to do so, I'll pick it up in a few weeks, far less time than it takes to import an H1B from India. But hey, I'm a Neanderthal too hard to retrain, right?

    Oh wait, the H1Bs can be warehoused 20 to the apartment and paid $12,000/year. Alrighty, then!

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen