Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Supply and Demand

I was at a technical networking meeting last night. Towards the end the conversation turned towards a plaintive bleat from a Systems Programmer that IBM was undercutting hourly rates.

I can remember when a Systems Programmer was King-of-the-Heap and we computer programmers were mere underlings.

I can remember when programmers were thought to be more brilliant than mathematicians, because programmers could understand computers and make them “do” things, such as playing a tune on an IBM 1403 line printer.

I can remember getting paid about $250 per day to deliver training in desktop applications fifteen years ago.

I can remember ten years ago Nortel laying off staff in 40,000 chunks of people.

I can remember thinking that that meant 20,000 people saying “I’ve been using Microsoft Word for years; I could teach it”, and armed with a two-year severance package and by moving back in with Mum and Dad, they could afford to undercut my rates horribly.

I can remember deciding to get out and carve a little niche in Really Advanced desktop training, including Application Development, and making myself available as an independent instructor at $1,000/day regardless of class size.

Today’s systems – from micro through mini to mainframe – deliver more power with less maintenance and operation.

I’m not surprised that the demand for Systems programmers has shrunk.

I am surprised to hear supposedly-brilliant people complaining about it.

I remember shaking hands with a blacksmith last week. He’s the only blacksmith I know.

Works out at the Woodbine Racetrack shoeing racing horses for owners and trainers.

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