School's Out

School's Out

[Voice-over] It is the worst of times, it is the very worst of times. It is the pits. [Cue music . . . ] Where have all the IT graduates gone, long time passing? Where have all the IT graduates gone, long time ago?

Well, isn't that the burning question/issue everyone's struggling with these days? Declining ICT enrolments at unis. CIOs who can't find qualified staff. Australian Computer Society membership numbers down. Young women avoiding IT like 80s leg-warmers.

What happened? How come IT is no longer a career of choice?

Some observers would proffer up IT's geeky image. Others would point to offshoring as a disincentive. And others would say that IT doesn't appeal to today's youth because it's not sexy.

I don't think so . . . Nope, I think we're not seeing heaps of IT aspirants because they can read, and here's the job description they're reading.

Get a job in IT and don't get any respect, ever. From the day you walk in the door you will be at the service (read mercy) of every employee in the building, whether it's a 100- or 10,000-seat organization. And it's always your fault. Enjoy the challenge? Then test your wits by working with legacy systems where no documentation exists. Enjoy a real challenge? Well, then you'll love working with suppliers' tools that are never 100 percent flawless. Feeling skilled at the moment? Well, that won't last long because those skills will be outdated before you know it. Oh, and by the way, you'll have to learn about "the business" because the business has absolutely no intention of learning about technology. In fact, while sales, marketing, finance and operations will freely dispense their own TLAs, they intend to constantly accuse you of talking techie and not getting with the agenda. Got a "can do" attitude? Great, because you'll need to be able to implement quick smart when you're asked things like: "Can you do this CRM thingy by Thursday?"

But there's more . . .

Because we can pretty much guarantee that everybody you come in contact with will either treat you like a dummy or fair game. Vendors will promise and not deliver. Consultants will look down their noses, sniff at your proposed solution and then charge you a bomb and screw it up. But remember, it's always your fault. Analysts will predict trends, flog new technologies and cite CAGRs, which may or may not eventuate, but you'll still be expected to be au courant with all of it. You'll be surveyed to death, hounded by salespeople, dissected ad nauseam by so-called experts and management gurus. You'll be called uncooperative when you won't speak to the press, misquoted when you do, and then flogged by corporate communications for opening your mouth at all.

Anything else? Well, expect to be on call 24x7 in case the MD can't figure out how to use his new PDA or his kids have let loose a virus on his laptop. And no matter what, it's always your fault, so don't kick the kid's arse when he brings down the entire network.

Hey, wait a minute. Stop. Don't run away!

When will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?

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