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Shifting IT Jobs

September 2nd, 2003 · No Comments

Robin Miller takes a closer look at the “problem” of IT jobs shifting away from the US to other countries like India and concludes:

In the end, like it or not, we here in the U.S. are going to have to learn how to deal with a truly worldwide IT economy. Some IT workers here may be forced to leave the “computer industry” and move into non-offshorable jobs, but this may not mean they give up doing computer work, because as our economy continues to shift away from manufacturing and toward services, we may see just as many non-portable IT “support” jobs created as we would if we decided our economic future was best served by trying to turn our economy back to its traditional dependence on manufacturing.

The upshot: Even though hundreds of thousands of programming and other IT jobs are likely to leave the U.S. over the next few decades, the vast majority of U.S. IT workers will survive, and possibly even prosper in the end, although they may have new employers and work in new fields. As trucking companies expand and become increasingly computerized, for example, new jobs maintaining mobile data systems will be created.

The trick to staying gainfully employed in the IT industry — and to breaking into it — is, as always, a matter of spotting growth areas and moving toward them. This doesn’t just mean learning new programming languages or how to build, install, and repair new types of hardware, but also keeping up with business news to see what industries may offer the greatest future opportunities.

And those industries will probably not be “computer” industries in the traditional sense. As computing devices become more common in places they weren’t traditionally a major factor — which can be anywhere from a tomato packing plant to a ready-mix cement distributor — so will computing jobs.

Your next “IT job” may be in an industry you didn’t even think about a few years ago. It may be in a place you never thought of as an “IT mecca.” But if you have solid skills, whether as an entry level programmer or sysadmin or as a top-level IT manager or CIO, some company out there almost certainly needs someone just like you. The trick is finding that company — but that’s another article for another day.

I think the US IT professionals should look at the emerging markets as opportunities. These are IT’s next markets. India needs affordable IT solutions, so does China and so does Brazil and so does Africa. The US has always been good at innovating. Can it now come out with solutions (hardware and software) that are a tenth of the current costs? Do it, and see the amazing large markets open up.

There is a digital divide between the developed markets and the emerging markets. The opportunity lies in crossing this chasm and creating disruptive innovation for technology’s next markets.

Tags: Emerging Markets

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