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By Albert D. Kallal
Friday, July 06, 2001
Jobs in the IT industry, July 2001
I was asked a question about jobs, and is the Access programming / consulting market dead? . My response explains why, and how jobs in the IT market work.
I don't think Access is experiencing anything different from any of the other environments in the computing industry. The industry is going through one of the largest corrects in it's history. There are certain sectors going through a very bad time. A good example is job openings for web development. Trying to land a job with just web creation skills right now is impossible.
Why? Well, we had a huge demand for companies to create web sites. Now that these sites are created. There is not near the need for web development. Remember the Fax machine sales people from the early 80's....they made a fortune (companies were just starting to buy fax machines). Now the Fax machine market is at replacement level. Same goes for most companies webs sites, ..they are in simple maintenance mode. Now that the web bubble has burst, I would not want to be a web developer...there is simply no work. (and too many of them)
In addition, the newer software such a office, and even Publisher 2000 allows people of *very* limited skill to create a web site.
This brings up a another important point......if web creating is so easy...then offing any kind of decent money will attract hoards of people to that job.
However, if you are capable if integrating a data system, point of sale system, inventory system, or even a quotation system into a web site, then that is whole different ball game! That is not a easy skill, and thus all
those web page designers in general can't do that. Us data base people can!
I have always programmed in the database market (Pick, Prime, FoxPro, ms-access and whole bunch more). These systems manage DATA, and data is the lifeblood of company. Learn data systems...they are key. That is why I never even bothered with C.
So, there are several things to consider. One is how much skill, and more important is what kind of barriers to entry exist. In the local paper we see jobs for Oracle all the time. Is this due to more work available in Oracle then in Access? Not likely, but NOT everyone can pop a cd in their home computer and learn Oracle (they can with Access). In other words, I don't need to use a recruiter to find a Access programmer. To find a Oracle programmer, I am willing to use a recruiter. Thus, while there is more work in Access, the Oracle person is more expensive since there are less of them. Even a better example of this is vb. There is much more work done in Vb than Oracle...*but* we don't need a recruiter to find a vb programmer.
You see this example in the Pick (d3, now called Raining Data) market. The recruitment market is quite active right now (jobs in this market are completely unaffected by the down turn). This is due to the fact that NO one is getting into Pick, or learning it these days. The existing crowd is getting old, and no new young blood is entering the market. The same goes for some areas of the country concerning Cobol....no new recruits (although y2k work really did bring some people back into that market....at the right price!). So, while both of those markets are not growing, the job possibilities are!
One more important thing about the IT down turn. I am very busy, and am often asked why do I not hire a programmer? My first response is that I cannot find a decent programmer. Well, hey...if I offer 100,000 dollars, and BMW to start, I will NOT have a problem finding a developer. However, if at that price the developer can produce enough upgrades, new features, and new software to pay that rate, then why would I not hire him? In other words, that developer must be able to create things for my clients, and those clients must be willing to pay for that.. In fact I would hire 20, or 40...or even 2000 people like that! I mean if they make me money....I would be stupid not to hire them!
The amount of money I can charge my clients would NOT allow me to pay that programmer at that rate. In other words, the economy always reaches a balance (just like those Fax machine sales man in the 80's). This balance is between the amount work at given rate, and the value of what I offer was reached several years ago. However, that stupid dot com thing came along. Many of the dot com companies did NOT have paying customers. In fact, some had NO customers! How can you pay developer in that market?...you can not.
Hence, we are going through a correction. The balance between paying customers, and the amount of developers has to be corrected.
Until the cost of what a developer creates reaches a balance to the cost of what customers are willing to pay, then the continued exodus of people from the IT industry will continue.
If you have simply no reason to upgrade from Office 97 to Office whatever, and MS cannot convince you to do so? There *will* be layoffs at MS. There is no magic here. We are no different from the fax, or photo copy sales man. Every business need photo copiers (and pays for maintenance, toner, upgrades etc.). Every business needs software also....it really is not a difference. Does that mean you should not sell photo copiers? Of course not. Does that mean you should not develop software? Of course not. However, learning something with barriers to entry can help.
To be fair, there is one difference between photo copiers and software. Talent. While most software companies have a hiring freeze, if you are star, and walk in the door, they will talk. Same goes for most baseball
teams...they are not hiring...but hey the door is always open for a star.
A real good developer has nothing to do with Access. The real value that Access has, is it allows you to create better software systems for small business at a better *value* than most products. A bunch of business might be willing to pay $5000 for a steel quotation system...but not $12,000 as it might cost on another platform.
It is sad, as some business are not considering Access as a solution to some problems anymore. They then ask why something that cost $12000 is now going to cost $75000 dollars in some new fangled system. At that rate, there will be less work. We simply cannot keep increasing development time and cost and not have the market shrink as a result. The new software environments are pricing what we can develop for a given amount of work right out of the market place. If companies stop using Access, they will simply stop developing software in house. Much of the new development systems are too costly right now.
I don't offer Access to a business...I offer a some solution they are willing to pay for.....Access is really not the issue. I am not Joe developer.....I am Joe Steel Quotation system, Joe Tour reservation system, Joe Catalog system. They pay for solutions.
Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Trying to land a job with just web creation skills right now is impossible.