Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 25
Vol. 1 No. 15
January 22, 1998
The Information Technology Professional Shortage: Path to Wealth for Webmasters?
What Causes the IT Professional Shortage?
Several factors are widely acknowledged to contribute to the IT professional shortage:
I claim there is another dimension to the IT shortage: the Web itself.
- A robust economy: at least for now, the U.S. economic juggernaut rolls on with momentum unabated. In an economy near full employment, there are shortages of construction workers, machine tool operators, and fast food clerks; it's no surprise to find shortages of good IT people as well.
- The Year 2000 problem: Reports on the Year 2000 problem in the popular press are outnumbered perhaps only by coverage of El NiÃ±o (if not Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky). For instance, a USA Today article reports that 500,000 programmers "who can write in COBOL and other programming languages once thought obsolete" are working on the problem, at a cost to government alone of up to $30 billion. ("Year 2000 problem makes experience pay off," Del Jones, USA Today, March 21, 1997.) Although the estimate of a half-million programmers toiling specifically on the Year 2000 problem seems awfully high to me, even if the real total is 1/4 that number, the Year 2000 problem alone could account for a good portion of the shortage.
- The new European currency: This is a relatively new one on the doom-and-gloom radar screen. It seems that if the European Monetary Union succeeds in its plan to launch the new currency, the euro, by January 1, 1999, U.S. companies will have to spend billions to handle three base currencies at once. Conversion costs could reach $30 billion according to US News ("Euro conversion could cost U.S. firms billions" by John Marks, US News & World Report, November 17, 1997.) InfoWorld pegs the cost even higher, at $100 billion. ("Euro Looms Large" by Lynda Radosevich, InfoWorld, Oct 27, 1997.) Once again, even assuming these numbers dramatically overestimate what US firms are really spending, every programmer working on euro conversion isn't working on inventory control, EDI, or whatever basic work his or her company needs done.
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Created: January 22, 1998
Revised: January 22, 1998