Change or die

OMG! Theres an(other) IT skills crisis/emergency/shortage thing…

Just read an article in the nz herald, one of the tiring articles that the media seem to push out frequently when their tech reporters have nothing better to talk about.

Essentially, conveniently ignoring the most basic rules of economics, it rabbits about an IT skills shortage, and gets big name companies saying things like, “Recruiting and retaining skilled IT staff remains the number one challenge for the IT team at … There is a real lack of available talent“.

but… to make up for this, they are prepared to…

“do anything” towards this, including wearing battle fatigues in XYZs corporate colour of dung-brown to university fairs in 2007, along with T-shirts featuring an Uncle Sam-style pointing finger declaring, “We want you!” XYZ also promotes its culture and work environment, including social clubs, sports teams, sponsorships and outside work activities…”


maybe you should think about paying your IT staff what they’re worth?

Im a contractor as most people know. I know a lot of other contractors. We are not really considered ‘IT staff’, we’re more like those guys who clean pests out of your house, you know they’re there, you really need them, they cost a bit, and you sure hope the neighbours dont notice…

Contractors get paid per hour, generally between about $80 and $120, but in some cases higher. Which is around 150+K per year. Now… ask how much a permanent member gets paid to do the same job. Particularly in big companies… those same companies who are whining about STAFF SHORTAGE/CRISIS etc…

“But wait!” I hear the screams of the HR staff… “We can’t pay our developers/testers/BAs/all IT staff more than the CIO…”. Well… actually you can. Newtons first law was… uh… something about forces, and uh… I dont think any of the others mentioned anything about IT staff pay (although, I could be wrong…). So you can.

Supply and demand, low supply, high demand…? = higher price.

To translate the gist of the article, it says, “We can’t find staff at a cheap price, so we will whine”. Stop whining. Start paying people what they’re worth. If you pay more, you will find someone. If you pay more, you encourage more people to take up those roles, increasing supply. Its a feedback cycle. You can pay your staff more than the CIO. It is allowed.

Think of it from a IT staff members point of view (this is NEVER talked about by the journalists). Hey, I can make X per year at company A, or 2*X at company B. Who will get the staff? Who now has a comparative advantage against losing staff?

Now, some companies might scream at that: “We can’t afford to, we won’t make any money! We need cheap labour, cos otherwise no-one will buy our sugar/coffee/nike shoes/IT services!”. Hmm. Im a bit sceptical. You won’t make any? Or you won’t make as much?

Ok, lets assume you won’t make any. You then have 3 choices, lower your existing costs, outsource everything to bangladesh (india is too expensive) and hope the outsourcing process doesnt kill you, or … change.

IT is the industry of change. Change or die. change your cost model, change how you employ people (shameless plug, see , pay them more, but be more flexible. Stop paying for massive buildings, massive numbers of middle-management, and focus on who makes the money. IT is not a hierarchical power model anymore, change.

Or… I suppose your other option is to whine. That might work. It sometimes did when I was a child….

Change or die

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