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Lost Your Job Yet?

By John Pardon
April 12, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Frank Hayes' fears about techies bailing out of a declining American IT workforce are already being realized ["ITAA's Job Dream"].

I've done it. I concluded that IT is largely a dead-end career for Americans and opted out so that my wife could pursue advanced degrees in education and move up in a field that can't be so readily outsourced or filled by guest workers. I rebelled at my former employer's "wage compression," outsourcing and use of H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

One year ago, I resigned my IT job at NCR Corp., a Fortune 500 company based in Dayton, Ohio, because I was too disgusted and demoralized to continue working in a profession I enjoyed after my employer made it evident that American workers are disposable and replaceable no matter how loyal, productive, competent or well educated. I concluded there was no future for me at NCR or in IT. Like many other corporations, NCR was indifferent to its employees and American society. And, like many other companies, it has thoroughly embraced the policy of outsourcing.

NCR's outsourcing partners are HCL Technology and Saytam, which provide an IT workforce in India. NCR also has a contract with Accenture, and it has an Indian subsidiary that is also hiring a non-American workforce and isn't subject to American taxes or workplace laws.

Unlike Frank Hayes, I don't believe that it's widely possible to dodge the offshoring bullet by building up business skills and increasing face time with users. This sounds good, but techies are very busy with responsibilities. And I've noticed that IT writers seem a bit uncertain about how techies should remain competitive. Not long ago, we were being urged to gain new technical skills. How certain is anyone that broader business skills are now the answer to job retention? The truth is there really isn't much certainty regarding the actions to take or the skills to acquire to prevent outsourcing job loss. After all, many of us in the IT workforce have learned the indisputable truth that outsourcing and use of IT guest workers is really all about slashing labor costs, not increasing the quality of products and services.

I came to these conclusions long before the most recent ITAA study, which was the subject of Hayes' article. The public statements and actions of people like Harris Miller of the ITAA, Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard, Sam Palmisano of IBM, and Lars Nyberg and Mark Hurd of NCR made it abundantly clear that there were declining opportunities for American IT employment. Many of us in the



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