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Are Indian High Schoolers Manning Your IBM Help Desk?

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the cut-rate-help dept.

Businesses 237

theodp writes "IBM CEO Virginia M. Rometty's Big Blue bio boasts that she led the development of IBM Global Delivery Centers in India. In his latest column, Robert X. Cringely wonders if customers of those centers know what they're getting for their outsourcing buck. 'Right now,' writes Cringely, 'IBM is preparing to launch an internal program with the goal of increasing in 2013 the percentage of university graduates working at its Indian Global Delivery Centers (GDCs) to 50 percent. This means that right now most of IBM's Indian staffers are not college graduates. Did you know that? I didn't. I would be very surprised if IBM customers knew they were being supported mainly by graduates of Indian high schools.'"

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237 comments

No shit sherlock (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771161)

You don't need a college degree to know how to work a phone. I know the HR hysteria in the USA would have you believe otherwise, but trust me! It's not that hard...

Re:No shit sherlock (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771191)

You don't need a college degree to know how to work a phone. I know the HR hysteria in the USA would have you believe otherwise, but trust me! It's not that hard...

Haven't seen the dang phone system we just had bestowed upon us, have you? Geez. Why not just drill my skull and put an implant in and get rid of this Cisco stuff.

Re:No shit sherlock (5, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771367)

You don't need a college degree to know how to work a phone. I know the HR hysteria in the USA would have you believe otherwise, but trust me! It's not that hard...

But one of the big justifications for outsourcing call centers to India was that you could get college-educated workers for cheap. If you're going to be staffing the call centers with people who have just a high school education, then you might as well do that in the United States and not deal with the language/accent barrier. Workers without a college degree are cheap enough in America as it is. Moreover, it's strongly implied that IBM is misrepresenting the educational level of the employees in these outsourced call centers. Regardless of whether workers in call centers should need a college degree, it's not kosher to say or imply that your workers do when in fact they don't.

Re:No shit sherlock (5, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771477)

You don't need a college degree to know how to work a phone. I know the HR hysteria in the USA would have you believe otherwise, but trust me! It's not that hard...

But one of the big justifications for outsourcing call centers to India was that you could get college-educated workers for cheap. If you're going to be staffing the call centers with people who have just a high school education, then you might as well do that in the United States and not deal with the language/accent barrier.

You're missing the cheap part -- highschool grads in India are cheaper than high school grads in the USA. That's why they deal with the language/culture/accent barrier.

Workers without a college degree are cheap enough in America as it is.

Pay range for entry level agents in India is $200 - $350/month [crmbuyer.com]. Where are these cheap Americans that will work for $1.75/hour?

Moreover, it's strongly implied that IBM is misrepresenting the educational level of the employees in these outsourced call centers. Regardless of whether workers in call centers should need a college degree, it's not kosher to say or imply that your workers do when in fact they don't.

Where is this implied? I never assume that first level tech support agents will have any kind of relevant college degree - they all seem to follow a script (and I wish they'd just publish the scripts online so I could follow them myself).

Re:No shit sherlock (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771591)

Pay range for entry level agents in India is $200 - $350/month Where are these cheap Americans that will work for $1.75/hour?

That may be so, but American companies that contract with Indian outsource firms are *certainly* paying more than that.

Re:No shit sherlock (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771717)

Pay range for entry level agents in India is $200 - $350/month Where are these cheap Americans that will work for $1.75/hour?

That may be so, but American companies that contract with Indian outsource firms are *certainly* paying more than that.

And American companies that pay their call center agents $10/hour are still billing them out for more than that to account for benefits and overhead (including agent training, facilities, administration, etc). But since nearly everything is cheaper in India, the final bill rate for an Indian call center agent still ends up being less than an American call center agent.

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771951)

Pay range for entry level agents in India is $200 - $350/month Where are these cheap Americans that will work for $1.75/hour?

That may be so, but American companies that contract with Indian outsource firms are *certainly* paying more than that.

Yup. The difference, after you subtract out the salaries of the front office workers (secretaries, vice presidents, and others who don't pick up the phone to take support calls), facility lease, phone bills, taxes, equipment, insurance, etc, is called profit. Profit is good. Just ask your friendly local 1%ers.

Re:No shit sherlock (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771943)

So then... Because I-BM finds yet another way to circumvent the labor laws of the US Americans should sit quietly?

I realize they are one of many corps that justify their actions by citing the corporate manifesto of profits over patriotism but that won't stop people like me calling as it is.

Re:No shit sherlock (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772257)

So then... Because I-BM finds yet another way to circumvent the labor laws of the US Americans should sit quietly?

I realize they are one of many corps that justify their actions by citing the corporate manifesto of profits over patriotism but that won't stop people like me calling as it is.

They aren't circumventing the labor laws of the USA -- they are working within the labor laws in India. Even though I work in a job that is often outsourced I don't think that outsourcing should be banned - in many cases it makes a lot of sense, in others not so much. I try to make sure I keep skills and knowledge that is hard to outsource.

Re:No shit sherlock (4, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771967)

Pay range for entry level agents in India is $200 - $350/month. Where are these cheap Americans that will work for $1.75/hour?

They're in 1971. Where minimum wage was $1.60/hour. $200/month isn't good or bad in and of itself, only relative to the cost of living. Rampant inflation has fucked us up the ass like Jerry Sandusky in the shower with a 10-year-old boy.

Re:No shit sherlock (2)

doesnothingwell (945891) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772737)

Americans that will work for $1.75/hour?

If my healthcare was covered %100, no transportation costs, and my taxes were 0%, I could do it without a family in tow. But I'm not going to work balls to the wall at that rate.

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

nashv (1479253) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771563)

you're going to be staffing the call centers with people who have just a high school education, then you might as well do that in the United States

Employee salary. Next!

Money Money Money!
Must be funny!
In the rich man's world...

Re:No shit sherlock (3, Informative)

tsotha (720379) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772339)

You wouldn't do that, not because US high school graduates are too expensive, but because a US high school degree isn't a good indication of literacy. Maybe in India a high school degree means something (I don't know one way or another). But in the US, a BS is the new high school diploma.

Re:No shit sherlock (3, Informative)

funwithBSD (245349) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772449)

Except that is exactly what IBM is doing in the GDF centers (Fishkill, Dubuque, Colombia)

They are hiring high school grads and putting them in first line jobs. If they stick with it, and get their certs/education (certs are provided by IBM) they can move up in the system. (I joined with no degree, although I have one now. I was not a entry level position either)

The pay is somewhere in the $10 to $15 range, and yes, it is hard to get people to sign on at that wage.

These resources are replacing India resources as those resources are getting harder to get. Not surprisingly, years of outsourcing to India has built an in country demand. The best and brightest head there because the hours are better, and often the pay is better too.

As for the Indian work quality... it varies. I have worked with some that were as good as any US tech, and some that are mere chair warmers.
It definitely takes 2 to 4 to match a quality US resources, but you can afford to do that.

Any customer can demand US only resources if they are willing to pay for it... but they are willing to do so.

The GDF centers get US resources in close parity, a 15 to 25% premium. Many customers are opting to use those resources in place of overseas resources. Work is still shipped over there in "backoffice" type support of the US based teams, such as provisioning of disk, etc, but the customer is not in contact with them.

There is also a growing need for "US Only" based on regulations. Governments are expanding regulations to require data and systems are handled by US citizens only because of the nature of the data. That is a fast growing quarter.

Re:No shit sherlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771999)

As an American high-school drop out who proves advanced support to multi-million dollar enterprise accounts for a unix-based software company and makes well over six figures doing it, I have to say that the idea that not being college educated is somehow a negative is fucking absurd.

Re:No shit sherlock (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772239)

This is the point.

Indians will work for pennies on the dollar. Hell you can outsource to Canada for cheaper than the US and not get the entire culture/accent barrier. Trust me worked in a outsourced call center, twice. My jobs got sent to India and the Philippines.

As a native English speaker, I can certainly attest to the amount of abuse Americans hurl at those they suspect of not being American. Canadians don't get nearly as much abuse unless they sound Indian or Asian. There were representatives who came from the Arab world with weak accents who get subjected to so much racist shit because of 9/11.

If you, as a business owner, want to outsource here's some simple rules to keep everyone happy:
1. Outsource only non-core business. Customer Support and Technical Support are core businesses in ALL businesses that offer a service.
2. Outsource only material that if it fell into a criminal's hands, they would be unable to use. So for example you should NEVER outsource billing/payments. Because companies like Verizon and AT&T run credit, they should absolutely NOT be doing this from outsourced centers, since stealing the data is worth almost 10 years worth of pay. Much of this problem is how SSN's are used as part of phone authentication process, and americans don't even question it. If a government policy banning the use of SSN's for ALL non-IRS purposes, many companies would be up shit creek.
3. Outsource non-core work. So for example if your company has a website that doesn't have customer interaction, you can probably outsource this. As soon as a credit card is required, this work must be done in-house. Outsource basic customer support to in-house forum systems (eg your customers are also your customer support) and then just employ in house staff to make sure things stay sane.

One of the most frequent problems I notice, is how understaffed companies become once they outsource. This is because they try to replace inhouse staff with outsourced staff on a 1:1 ratio when this isn't anywhere near the requirement.

Your in-house staff likely has experience, or training with your products and services first hand. Your outsourced support staff only has documentation to work from. When I worked for the mobile phone company, they provided us with exactly one mobile phone... for the entire call center of 500 people. And since they don't provide service here, we couldn't even use the phone for any level of troubleshooting. There were countless times where simply having the equipment available would have been useful. They could have setup a pico-cell inside the call center so that troubleshooting could be done directly on the network and not having to relay through several layers of people. So if you're paying one US citizen 20$/hr to do this, they may be the first and last contact. But when you're paying someone in Canada, India, China, whatever, 1/3rd or less (The going rate in Canada is upwards of 12$/hr) you end up needing three or four times as many staff because the staff are unable to troubleshoot problems because they aren't in the customers location. Basically anytime you have a technical problem with a mobile device, you're much better off taking it to the company owned store (more on that in a moment) and having them call dealer customer support using the internal number that bypasses the outsourced centers.

Also I worked the warranty exchange queue for business. That was a load of fun. Now remember what I said above about being better off taking devices to a company owned store? Well some people don't know the difference between a dealer and a company owned store. So you get lots of people who buy the most profitable phone for the dealer, calling in when the device breaks, and being told to return it to the dealer. The problem is that dealers make commission, so if you return a device, they lose their commission. So they will pretty much waste your time or charge you a fee for returning the item. Some of them get told to do a warranty exchange... even when the device is a day old. You can't do this. Under 30 days, the policy just about everywhere is buyers remose, must be returned to the point of sale for ALL situations.

Companies in Canada, our major carriers are Bell and Rogers. Neither of these companies have a HQ or even significant/any call center staff west of Ontario. So there are no company owned stores in Western Canada, they're all franchises. If you try to get anyone at these stores to do anything simple that isn't sales, they'll tell you to call in. This is because you're wasting their time they could be using to make sales. When you call in? You get some high school kid too.

So in closing, the big problem with outsourcing falls into two problems:
1. Trying to get the same efficiency from outsourced staff as you do from inhouse staff. This is impossible.
2. Trying to get impossible metrics. Whenever you use a time-based quota metric, you force the staff to cut corners. This is reflected in how call volumes go UP when you outsource. Outsourcers can't take ownership of a situation because they're only paid to work from supplied poor documentation, and aren't able to do any analytical troubleshooting because they aren't employees with access to the necessary systems.

Hence you may as well just hire twice as many high school kids at minimum wage and train them on your inhouse systems. You'll get better quality work out of people who actually get to solve problems than you do from people in an outsourced center who are helpless to do anything due to not being given the necessary access to systems.

Footnote: I had like 20+ something passwords for **** ******** at the time. Of these 8 of them were used on a daily basis.
Footnote2: I was better able to solve a customers problem off-the-clock from home by calling the internal numbers. I won't say what I did, I had to complete an order on a day off, but let me just say that my point about taking private customer information that can potentially be misused is completely valid. I did it from home because it had to be done at a specific time, and if someone dropped the ball the customer wasn't going to get their order for weeks.

Re:No shit sherlock (4, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771443)

Yes, but some fumbducktard MBA decided that you need a college degree to follow a script to deal with support issues.

Have you ever tried to call one of these help desks -- and get any real help? You're better off wacking yourself over the head with a 2x4 repeatedly.

Re:No shit sherlock (2, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772259)

I'd rather get support from a HS grad who knows the product, than someone with a masters in anthropology, who doesn't.

Skill Requirements (4, Insightful)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771171)

Perhaps, that is all the skills that is required for the job. Just like car mechanics, IT support is becoming less and less of a highly skilled job.

Re:Skill Requirements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771283)

Exactly. What good is a degree or two, if the person doesn't know the specific area you need help with?

The customer doesn't need someone educated, just someone who knows the problem area and is able to think.

Kids do IT stuff in homes and schools. These days, if you want to know how to do something, chances are you can ask a fifth grader.

The Google search engine never graduated from high school, yet people often reach for it first.

Re:Skill Requirements (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771291)

Perhaps, that is all the skills that is required for the job. Just like car mechanics, IT support is becoming less and less of a highly skilled job.

Actually, car mechanics nowadays is more of an IT skill, in that the diagnostics are run by instrumentation.

Re:Skill Requirements (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771331)

Perhaps, that is all the skills that is required for the job. Just like car mechanics, IT support is becoming less and less of a highly skilled job.

Actually, car mechanics nowadays is more of an IT skill, in that the diagnostics are run by instrumentation.

Fantastic! That means that the next time I need my car serviced I just need to find an Indian high school student!!!

Re:Skill Requirements (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771743)

Might cost a bit to ship the diagnostic module data to said student, but in theory, you could just have a "service station" set up with one person who plugs in the modules, the data is then interpreted (doesn't matter where) and either the problem is fixed locally or remotely.

For example, if a part is going bad, it just orders the replacement part and tells you where to pick it up for installation. If it's timing, that's a software patch.

But the analytics - yeah sure that can happen anywhere. Maybe a housewife in Outer Mongolia could do it.

Re:Skill Requirements (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772359)

Pretty much the computer spits out a number which the mechanic looks up in a book and then replaces the part the book says to replace. There really isn't a lot of human analysis going on with automotive repair.

Re:Skill Requirements (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771373)

No, it isn't. It's still a highly skilled job, it's just that we've moved the title and position further from the end users. Those people are called troubleshooters now, and they make good money. (I know, I was one). The "tech support" or better yet, "help desk" positions are nothing but robots reading scripts, and soon enough, they will literally be robots. That doesn't change the fact that in order to actually be HELPFUL they have to know more than how to type.
 
Your standards of service are an affront, please raise them.

Re:Skill Requirements (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771479)

Maybe not, but since when is an "education ticket" a real-world necessity for the knowledge and skill to do anything? While classes can be exceedingly valuably for getting info (including the discussions, examples, problem solving) it's never been the only source of the information needed to learn how to do things.

Seems to me the fixation on these 'tickets' has become ridiculous. Certifications are, or ought to be, by examination and practicum.

Sheesh, in 1986 I saw an ad from a local country club looking for [high-school students to work as] a summer dishwasher; the closing words were "send resume...

Re:Skill Requirements (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771623)

"IT support is becoming less and less of a highly skilled job."

Not even close. Auto mechanics requires far MORE skill and broader knowledge of theory than it did forty years ago.

"High School Graduates", not "High Schoolers" (5, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771697)

"High Schoolers" says that the people manning the help desk are kids who are still in high school. "High School Graduates" implies that they've finished high school but don't have college degrees. There are some help desk jobs for which that's really just fine (as long as they've learned enough English that they can understand the concepts and get some practice with speaking it), and others for which you need a lot of specialized training, much of which depends on concepts you'd learn in college.

Re:Skill Requirements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771757)

Perhaps, that is all the skills that is required for the job.

For the call center, this is most definitely true.

A customer with enterprise support will only be calling in to open a case ticket.
They either already have the problem diagnosed, and have error codes in hand as provided by the server.

The guy at the call center simply uses their software to look up where the closest tech engineer is at, and relays your info. The tech engineer is who comes on site with your replacement parts. If need be, he will also be the one diagnosing the server. This person is most certainly older and has a college education, and is primarily who you will be working with.
In fact the tech engineer typically calls in to close the case and log what was done. The customer almost never has to interact with the call center after that first call, unless they want to.

IBM mainframe support does not use call centers. The mainframe itself reports back when something breaks or needs attention. The customer has an assigned rep who they will be dealing with directly.
The rep is who sends out engineers if need be. In some cases this is done with only a single phone call to the customer to schedule a convenient time to let them in the building.

IBM ditched its laptop and low end PC divisions long ago, as supporting that market is a huge cost sink. It's better for them to not support them at all, or barely do so. If it's not being handled by Levino or another spin off, they could care less as they lose money either way they go.
It only makes sense they would spend as little as possible on their call center staff, to lose as little as possible.

Re:Skill Requirements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772271)

Perhaps, that is all the skills that is required for the job. Just like car mechanics, IT support is becoming less and less of a highly skilled job.

I see.
In much the same way that you have all the grammars that is required for a /. post.
I understand now.
Color me enlightened.

Re:Skill Requirements (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772551)

Actually, a GOOD mechanic must be highly skilled. A parts changer, not so much. Same deal in IT.

Re:Skill Requirements (1)

Shompol (1690084) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772689)

Let's just say IT support is not helpful at all. Whenever I need support I bare with them for about 20 mins and then just give up. They follow their scripts, and when scripts don't help they say "reset your device to factory default". Paying for any kind of support is waste of money. I honestly don't care if they have a college degree but understanding the subject they are supporting would be helpful.

Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771173)

I dont see what the big deal is. I did tech support for HP when I was a high school dropout. Most of all the major problems have been solved already, its not that hard. So I should care about this why?

What if college is a distraction? (5, Interesting)

nido (102070) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771503)

They don't want us to realize that the reason college is so important is because children in the U.S. are deliberately prevented from learning anything valuable in their first 13 years of "education".

My dad had a friend in high school who taught shop class. He helped me about 6 years ago with his shop tools. He was forcibly retired a few years later because the administrators decided that woodworking and metal working aren't important to people who are going to college, which is all that matters in a globalized society.

Apparently that's the feedback loop: Grade school gets you ready for middle school, middle school for high school, high school for college, college for graduate school, graduate school for unemployment.

  According to a book from the 1970's I found at a thrift shop years ago ("The Screwing of the Average Man"), College used to be something that the upper class sent their children to, so they'd have a leg up on the un-credentialed proletariat. After WWII Congress passed the GI Bill to pacify all those ex-soldiers, and college became affordable for everyone. I was going to say that college is a waste of money, but the real waste is in K-12 - at least in College you mostly take only the classes you care about.

Apple is no different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771175)

When I worked for an apple tech support call centre, contracted not actually apple, most staff were low wage high school educated. That was the requirement, high school. There were some college educated but you didn't have to be.

Big deal? (4, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771197)

What's the big deal about that? Tier 1 helpdesk doesn't need a degree. A high-school education (even a US one) is more than enough to understand and speak English at a high-school level and follow a script and checklist. You don't need to be a cordon bleu chef to cook burgers at McDonald's either.

Re:Big deal? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771269)

I believe that was typically the case at U.S. call centers too, back when there were more of them. In the late-90s and early-2000s, working helpdesk was a common way for techies without degrees to make some money (either to help pay for college, or just to pay rent).

Re:Big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772169)

keyword there being techies, the call center i work from i sadly see kids whisked from highschool into front level and sometimes senior support levels without any knowledge or love for technology, at least back then it was staffed by enthusiasts who liked to help people with their computer problems, now, its scripts and untrained, unmotivated personel

Re:Big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771401)

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-02-01/news-by-industry/28428205_1_tvu-indian-students-immigration-fraud

Re:Big deal? (2)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771475)

The big deal is that they can pay the Indian post-high school worker a pittance compared to what they'd have to pay the US post-high school worker.

That's why Mrs. Rometty spent the better part of the last 10 years moving over 100K IBM jobs out of the US and to India. I'm sure she'd move everyone but the executives over if she could find a way to do so and still claim all the benefits of being "US based."

Re:Big deal? (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772705)

Given how much U.S. executives make, he'd be better off outsourcing that to just about anywhere else and keeping the rest in the U.S.

Re:Big deal? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772059)

I can't get worked up over "high school graduates". The idea that a college degree somehow improves the support and skill you're getting is offensively stupid. I dropped out of high school, moved to SF, signed a contract and began my career almost fifteen years ago. I provide highly skilled and knowledgeable support to IT departments. When the Fortune 500 company or government institution you work for has a services outage and you call them to complain that something isn't working? I'm the guy *those* guys call after you call them. And in addition to providing exceptional Tier 4 support (granted, I don't tend to deal directly with customers, but with other engineers who in turn deal with customers at some level), I write and compile hot-fixes to help customers out of these dire situations that can often impact tens of millions of end-users. I make about $160k/yr at it. When I dropped out of high school, I had about nine credits. Period. And that is the extent of my "official" education.

So I could not give less of a fuck whether someone has a college degree or only a high school degree or --- like myself --- not even a high school degree. It means fuck all as to what your capabilities are.

Degree Overrated (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771213)

If they're required by policy to follow a script, does it matter if they have a degree? I'm more concerned about fluency in english, an understandable accent,quality of the voip connection, and quality of the inter-cubicle sound isolation.

Re:Degree Overrated (2)

baegucb (18706) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771415)

Hello, my name is Debbie (yeah, right lady). Welcome to 1-800-IBM-SERV (said in a thick accent over a scratchy VOIP line). Even Oracle does better, with world wide call center support.
I deal with support vendors every day. IBM has had the worst call center support for years. Oracle is even better than IBM. At least all the local support guys are usually good. I just have to get the ticket opened, then layer explain to the CE (old terminology) or FE, what the issue is.
Not that Oracle is so great. Our platinum contract means they call every few hours, to "verify" information they were already given. That way they keep in contract compliance. But Oracle second level support is pretty good in my experience. I've talked to people from Ireland, India. and Rumania iirc, and gotten way better phone support than IBM.
Debbie: Z as in zebra, O as in oscar, S as in sam.
Dang. I think my wife has better luck talking to Charter than anyone at work talking to a vendor.

Re:Degree Overrated (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771671)

Not sure what you're calling IBM for, but I support 1-200 IBM servers and at least 6 WebSphere environments, and I never have trouble with them. Maybe, if you know what you're calling for and can explain it, you'll get better support. Most of my tickets end up starting out at level 2 though (again, I know what I'm doing, what I'm calling about, and explain what I've already tried....). It could just be that your group/department need to learn to explain the problem better.

If you'd like an example, I've had an issue on and off for a while (4-6weeks) with a case open, since re-creating it has been inconsistent from one day to the next,to the point that it sometimes took weeks to reproduce, that's fairly understandable. I was asked to provide logs with particular trace strings, sent them out, was asked to run a few collector tools and given 2 debug builds to add logging around the error. The level 2 tech I've been working with was asked to do a webex with me to validate the debug code, tracing, and a few other config related items. While on the webex, he was surprised at a combination of the size of my environment (100apps over about 90 clusters and 4 physical servers) and the fact that i was successfully (for the most part) managing it via a 32 bit deployment manager. After reviewing all of the data (debug code logs, environment, etc..) they believe that I've hit the limit of a 32bit deployment manager's capabilities and have asked that I upgrade to a 64bit deployment manager. Is it a pain ? Sure, but if you know what you're doing, it's about 4-6hours work to upgrade, patch, and migrate the profile (maybe less).

Is it good that it took 6 weeks to get to this point? No, but this wasn't a customer impacting issue, we had a workaround, and the normal symptoms of an OutOfMemory situation weren't showing up. The actual error we were receiving was an undocumented error that was basically an "oh shit nothing else we anticipated caught this ! throw this error... "

They were also more than patient, provided valid feedback and suggestions based on the data I provided, understood the issue's impact and treated it appropriately (including following up in a timely manner).

Our Oracle support is pretty good too from what I've heard, though we have had a few issues that took a while to resolve with them also.

disclaimer: I'm not employed by either company, though i do run a number of environments that require interaction with both vendors product suite.

Re:Degree Overrated (1)

baegucb (18706) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772129)

Sorry AC. We are talking about first level support, Yes, IBM sometimes, usually, does good support after the call, I know if it is critical, i will ask for the national duty manager again (if such still exists), Anyways, after 30+ years, I'm finding Oracle better then IBM when it comes to service. (I was told I'm older than dirt on irc in the 90s)
I should point out IBM's rep: until 999 out of 1,000 report a problem, it hasn't happened. See 3rd party documentation such as for GSERV FLEE/FLIM from the 70s.

Anyways AC, IBM will have any problem solved because we expect our uptime to be 100%. And we get real close. Topic though is call center.

Now all you kids get off my lawn! ;)

Re:Degree Overrated (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772435)

Most of the time it's just quicker to skip level 1. Open an electronic ticket and get a call direct from level 2. If you actually call level 1, all you're doing is having them transcribe the ticket entry for you - and generally are folks that are on the end of a poor quality VOIP connection and quite often poor English skills.

Re:Degree Overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772667)

IBM also offers a number of ways around talking to first level, www.ibm.com/support being one of them, open the ticket yourself with details set appropriate priority for your issue. I've actually had more good than bad experience with IBM 1st level support on the hardware side. They usually ask for logs from the server and can generally get it to the right group (or provide correct instructions for fixing it), that is their job after all.

Most recently, 1st level support was able to provide a fix for a reported firmware corruption on a blade server. In this instance, the server would report corrupt firmware on reboot, re-seating the blade would correct the issue and allow the server to boot. could I have found documentation on which switch to flip to enable the backup bios ? Sure, would the boss have been so willing to let me if I had instead of calling? Probably not, simply because it was a production server and "testing" a fix is a no no in any production environment.

As for documentation from the 70's, do you also still reference documentation from dos 5.0 when working on a Windows 2008 server? BSD 1.x when working with 4.x ? Personally, I tend to place personal experience, and that of people I know, above what I find written 40 years ago.

Age has nothing to do with your ability to clearly explain an issue, nor does it prove knowledge, I've corrected a number of customers and co-workers that were significantly older (and more experienced) than I am over the years. I've also been corrected by younger.

Re:Degree Overrated (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772393)

Oracle has better support? Bah. You know what we get from Oracle? Case numbers. Help, not much. Sure, the people are pleasant and understandable, but I can't remember the last time they were actually able to help us.

College not needed... (5, Informative)

cavtroop (859432) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771227)

...the problem is, they're not allowed to think for themselves. Education is completely irrelevant - they have to follow the scripts they have in front of them, and not deviate or they get dinged. I know, I've had to write some of these scripts for them (not IBM, but another large multinational co that does outsourced helpdesk work). The last step in any of the scripts is to escalate to Tier 2/3 - which 90% of the time is an actual employee of the company and not part of the outsourced help desk.

So how is having a college educated phone bozo any better than a high school educated one if they're not allowed to deviate from the scripts they're given?

High Schoolers != Non-College Graduates (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771229)

There many people who either didn't go to college, went to college but didn't graduate, or who are still in college that are not "high schoolers," Sheesh, does Slashdot know high schoolers are manning the queue?

Doesn't surprise me one bit... (3, Insightful)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771245)

Have you ever spoken to these people? I used to work for a big IT company that rhymes with Hell, and they staffed all of their call centers with undertrained, underpaid Indian nationals. One time it took me 5 calls just to get a password changed...and I was on a client site at the time and desperately needed it fixed. Frustration does not even begin to describe how I felt. It's bad enough when you use it for your own internal support but using it for customers paying big bucks for support contracts? Inexcusable. I bet that IBM is working on training monkeys to follow a support script cause, you know, the wages are starting to go up in India and we've got to make our numbers this quarter - damn it!

Re:Doesn't surprise me one bit... (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771547)

seem to remember a study years about by a company that found hiring US people for their phone support was either cheaper or made them more money then using cheap ppl of India. All cause the fact when they pay an american to do the job the people calling for help can understand them and in the end are happier then tring to talk to a guy that can't barly understand the customer and customer can barly understand the phone support guy.

Company from hell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772253)

I used to work for a big IT company that rhymes with Hell.

You mean Appell?

Presumptuous (2)

KnightBlade (1074408) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771267)

The term "graduate" means different things in US and India. You can hold a 'diploma' that's 10+3. This 'diploma' isn't considered a graduate in the US. It's not a degree because it's shy of the typical 4 year course structure. It could just mean they have a 3 year 'degree' than a 4 year bachelor's degree. Your assumption is flawed. 1 year of additional education can make a lot of difference if you're a developer or something else, but for a help desk job, I doubt it would add much value. Also, if you have a 4 year degree, why wouldn't you aim for a dev job?

Inflammatory title of course (5, Insightful)

beltsbear (2489652) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771273)

Inflammatory title of course, it implies that the people manning the desks are in high school or of high school age not just adults that only went to high school.

Re:Inflammatory title of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772149)

Perhaps high schoolers shouldn't be employed writing headlines at Slashdot.

Though, my second thought after reading the headline was, "So what. They can read the script and punch in replies just as well as high school or college grads. It's not like there's any real technical support going on here regardless of the age or education of the level talking on the phone."

Why pay for unused skills? (2)

cockpitcomp (1575439) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771287)

I thought we were supposed to complain about job ads with ridiculous lists of required skills. And if you need a college degree to do PC administration tasks, your OS is in bad shape.

BAD headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771305)

Yeah level 1 tech support needs to answer the phone and search the knowledge base, does this somehow require a college degree? Geez what are people supposed to do for a living?

Beyond that this headline sucks, High Schooler - in my book that would refer to someone still in high school - not a high school grad.

duh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771343)

Um... ya. But this is an Indian high school diploma. That is better than most liberal arts degrees here in the US.

Same as it was here (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771355)

Did you know that 10 years ago, if you called Dell, Gateway, HP, WellsFargo, Netgear, etc etc etc etc, that you spoke to someone making $10.50/hr, who most certainly did not have a college degree, and whom the technical skills test was "here, type this". The only difference now is, those people aren't in the united states, and they don't make anywhere near 10.50$/hr. Then or now, they never had any chance of actually helping you solve a problem.
 
NDA be damned, Dell had 5 solutions for ANY problem. Is it on. Check. Is it installed correctly. Check. Reformat, does it work now? Check. Does the rest of the computer work without it? Check. Replace it. DONE. This is essentially what all their scripts say. Oh sure, there are minor detailed differences, and some small portion of the people they employ to read the scripts even understand the differences. Most do not, never did and never will. They are paid to go through those scripts AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. They are not paid for your satisfaction, and in fact, you can't commend or condone them in any way, because you don't know if you were talking to 'joe' at Dell's Texas headquarters, 'Joe' at the Beaverton Oregon Call center called Stream, or some other third party call center. You can call to complain, and customer service will no doubt apologize, coddle you and then do absolutely nothing.
 
One customer always comes to mind when I talk about this issue. She called in over 50 different times. She spoke to as many different people. She went through every script, every troubleshooting guide. Her modem was replaced. 5 times. The motherboard was replaced, twice. The CPU, Memory, hard drive and case were replaced once each. Her ENTIRE computer (include the mouse and cables) was replaced twice. Nothing solved the issue. She called in, and got me. Now, it's 12:30am, I'm quietly handling technical calls for Dell, but I'm in Oregon at STREAM intl. She explains her story, and I look it up. Holly crap, they have done just about everything that can be done... well crap. Tell me what the problem is. "Well, the last tech said..." No lady, I want you to tell me the problem, not what anyone else said it was. "my modem won't stay connected, and often won't connect at all". OK I say... any other issues..."well yeah, I get weird lines on my screen when I try and call out, or if I walk to close while on the phone". Alright, please do something strange for me, just reach down and touch the computer, but watch the screen. "It flashed with snow". OK do you happen to have power lines in your back yard. "yes, how did you know". Lucky guess. I know this isn't reasonable, but I need you to move the whole computer to the opposite side of the house, and call me back at this number xxxxxxxxxxx. She did, and you know what, it fixed the problem. 51+ phone calls, and the problem was outside interference, which isn't on any of the scripts. This isn't a problem of language, or culture, or race, or which country your phone call goes to. It's a problem that "technical support" is neither technical, nor support. Which is why it's mostly called "customer service" now. I think Carlin best described what that means.

Re:Same as it was here (2, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771417)

Did you know that 10 years ago, if you called Dell, Gateway, HP, WellsFargo, Netgear, etc etc etc etc, that you spoke to someone making $10.50/hr, who most certainly did not have a college degree, and whom the technical skills test was "here, type this".

Oh, yes. In fact, 10 years ago, I was one of those employees without a college degree earning $10.50 an hour taking outsourced calls for Gateway. (Well, actually it was only $9 an hour.) The difference is that they hadn't yet rolled out the dumbass scripts, so I was able to actually help customers most of the time, as long as they weren't asking for something that violated a specific support boundary (e.g. we didn't fix problems with third-party software). It was in about 2003, when I had transitioned to SBC (and fortunately been promoted to Team Lead and therefore taken off the phones) that they started telling techs that they had to follow the flowchart no matter what. At this point, there's no point having human employees at all; you might as well integrate the flowchart into the phone system and only hire tier 2 techs for problems that can't be fixed by doing the simple stuff. For all I know, they may have done this in some places already.

Re:Same as it was here (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772385)

NDA be damned, Dell had 5 solutions for ANY problem. Is it on. Check. Is it installed correctly. Check. Reformat, does it work now? Check. Does the rest of the computer work without it? Check. Replace it. DONE. This is essentially what all their scripts say. Oh sure, there are minor detailed differences, and some small portion of the people they employ to read the scripts even understand the differences. Most do not, never did and never will. They are paid to go through those scripts AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. They are not paid for your satisfaction, and in fact, you can't commend or condone them in any way, because you don't know if you were talking to 'joe' at Dell's Texas headquarters, 'Joe' at the Beaverton Oregon Call center called Stream, or some other third party call center. You can call to complain, and customer service will no doubt apologize, coddle you and then do absolutely nothing.

They want you to go through that script as fast as possible because, if they're a 3rd party support company, they get a bonus check for low average call times. Their employees have 'metrics' they must adhere to, or they get to find another job quick, fast, and in a hurry. That was the way it was back in '00, when I did 3rd party customer support for a national cell phone company when I was still in Colorado.

Not as bad as it sounds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771369)

Indian high schools teach a whole lot of things that other places (certainly the US) don't teach until well into a university program.

Source: I'm an 2nd year American college student with some friends from India, who breeze through a lot of our course material because they already learned it in high school.

Not high schoolers (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771371)

High school graduates. Which is perfectly normal, you don't need a diplome for helpdesk.

This isn't shocking (1, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771381)

Lets face the facts: 99% of the calls people put into help desks are for a small handful of issues. Even with IBM's wide array of enterprise gear most of it can be broken into a few small trees. From there you keep breaking it down until you get it into a nice neat group. Then you escalate that out to a qualified person.

Most of the calls result in a ticket being created and thats where it stops. It goes out to a qualified person, usually contracted, who fixes it. Indian high schoolers are roughly as well educated as american high schoolers. Meaning they can write, read, and regurgitate information.

Beyond all of that, the lower echelons of IT work is at best blue collar. I know people REALLY want to believe that ghosting an image to 300 desktops is 'hard core' but its not. Kick starting linux servers isn't either. Nor is any other thing that can be easily explained or replicated. Theres a reason those guys get 30k. Its easy work. They just need someone reliable who won't cause problems.

Things get a bit more 'white collar' as you move into sys admin work. A lot of that is still fairly easy, but it has caveats. People who are restarting java app's a few times a day, are clearing out logs, all that crap are still fairly unskilled. Skill starts to pick up you get into work such as fixing servers with crash carts/ilo. When you have a stable server suddenly drop off the network and you log in to fix it. You check SSHD, check network, check uptime, load, all of that... but from there it can go anywhere. What if random commands are throwing odd errors? Oh no! You have entire partitions down! Remounting them isn't fixing it.. so then you start with vgdisplay, etc etc.

Thats when you start earning your money and start really needing people with college *LEVEL* education. (As there is no worth while college degree in sysadmin. Its all very much self taught and then refined through cert programs.)

College degree does not equal proficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771419)

I used to work at an IT helpdesk. I only have a high school diploma myself, but I was still more competent than many of my coworkers who were college/uni graduates.
Also, as others have already pointed out, first-line support jobs rarely require in-depth IT knowledge; most of the people I worked with were no more proficient with computers than the users we supported. These jobs, especially the ones being moved to India, are heavily scripted and don't go beyond basic troubleshooting so that a trouble ticket can be logged and sent to a second-line technician (one of my coworkers used to say we're "phone answering monkeys"). Whether or not this is a good model is an entirely different question, but the bottom line is you don't need a college education for it.

Misleading Summary Headline is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771471)

Being a high school graduate and being a high schooler are not the same thing.

not college graduates != highschoolers (1)

Burning1 (204959) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771495)

Wow... Article is kind of stupid and misleading.

These workers may:

- Be college students who haven't graduated yet
- Be high-school graduates who aren't going to college
- Might actually be in high-school as the article implies.

I will say that I know a lot of Indians who have moved here to the US. While my experience doesn't necessarily speak for Indians who live in India, I get the general impression that the graduates don't really want to sit in a help-desk call center.

Plus, I think hiring college graduates to work your call center may somewhat cut down on the cost savings IBM is hoping to gain by outsourcing to India.

At most you get what you pay for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771507)

...and often quite a bit less....What exactly do you expect when you decide something is non-core commodity work and then outsource to the lowest bidder?

What you're actually seeing here is as part of the belt tightening IBM has decided good customer support just isn't important.

You Get What They Pay For (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771543)

I worked IBM's support line in the early 90's. The whole cost efficiency question had not yet come up when I started there, and we were the best-rated customer service in the industry. When you called support you went through a screener who took down your info and got a sense of the problem you were having. Based on what you told them, they'd give you a problem number and route you into one of the support buckets. That's where we picked it up and would be the next people on the phone with the customer. The record would already be written up and the screener would have made sure the customer was eligible for support. At the time, IBM was talking about all of us "Level 1 analysts" picking up their "OS/2 Certified Engineer" certification.

Fast forward a few months and they started talking about the cost of the support. Turns out, it cost IBM $30 on average for their screener to answer the phone. That was just the cost of the OS/2 support operation divided by call volume I suppose. So they started cutting costs. First thing to go were the screeners. That meant the support reps were the ones getting the customer's information and verifying that they were eligible for support. The call center also got way more touchy about call times. If you couldn't answer the question in about 10 minutes, they wanted you to requeue for a level 2 analyst call back. No more spending half an hour talking a customer through recovering their desktop. And OS/2 lost its desktop a lot.

They killed the operating system before they had a chance to move that call center to India, but I'm sure that would have been the next step. The fact of the matter throughout the industry is that the support line is populated with meaty paperweights and is designed to encourage you to solve your problem on your own. If you actually have a problem that you can't solve on your own, they'll grudgingly schedule a callback from a level 2 analyst after making you reboot your device. In this way the people you talk to now are like less-able screeners from back in the early IBM support days. They filter out most of the plonkers, do a mediocre job of finding out what your problem is and schedule a callback from a level 2 analyst.

Does that level of skill require a college degree? Not really. Always talking to a guy with a college degree would cost more than most of their customers are willing to pay. I'm sure they'd be happy to negotiate a private support contract with an SLA. It's just a matter of how large of a suitcase of cash you want to give them.

Watson (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771555)

I'm kind of surprised that they haven't farmed this out to Watson yet. It can destroy Jeopardy grand champions, and partner with medical doctors, why not ask users if they're multi-purposing the CD tray as a drink holder or if they've inserted the power cord?

Re:Watson (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771707)

Watson turned the job down. Said it didn't pay well enough to deal with idiots all day long.

Actually I have not the faintest idea what IBM is good for these days. Hardly anyone buys mainframes, they don't sell PCs, Linux-based brand-X servers are more than sufficient for most people, CICS and green-screen apps are mostly supplanted by more portable web-based application systems and free-to-inexpensive database servers are rampant.

IBM used to be famous because they allowed managers who were too incompetent to live to keep their jobs by doing all the thinking for them and recommending IBM solutions. Once your solutions are basically Wal-Mart Made In China quality and your support people are speaking unintelligible Bombay Welsh - once you wade through the phone menus and endless waits, where's the benefit? Might as well just install all open-source stuff and depend on user forums. You'll usually get faster, more intelligent response. In fact, I could get better support way back in the mid 90's on Linux than I could from OS/2, and I worked in a Fortune 500 "poster child" IBM shop back then.

Re:Watson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771901)

$107B (IBMs revenue for 2011) says you haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about.

Hardly anyone buys mainframes? Right, only the most important industries use them.

Linux-based brand-X servers are more than sufficient for most people? What does Linux-based have to do with anything? Brand-x servers are OK if you don't care about management tools, reliability, etc.

CICS and green-screen apps are mostly supplanted? No, dumbass, they are supplemented with portable web-based application systems.

Free-to-inexpensive database servers are rampant? Great, just where I want my bank account stored.

Re:Watson (1)

Lucractius (649116) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772273)

I worked for a company called Telstra (aussies will recognise it) Largest ISP in the country for those not local or familiar.

They used to have a promise "The first person you talk to will always be australian". Now Cut to the last few months of my employment. As we began to trial a new "Interactive Voice Response" system. Pretty damn smart one. It asked the users for ID info, built persistent profiles & was pretty much able to troubleshoot through the entire stock standard scripts the meat robots on the helpdesk were doing.

12 months later... The robot was now handling all 1st point of contact before automatically escalating to tier 2 where appropriate.

Re:Watson (2)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772305)

I'm kind of surprised that they haven't farmed this out to Watson yet.

Why pay for high-school grads, when you can get them less educated? How less educated? Elementary, my dear Watson.

Oh, I knew that (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771631)

> This means that right now most of IBM's Indian staffers are not college graduates. Did you know that?

Oh, I really knew that. I really, really knew that.

Personally I find the article title a bit offensive, as to call them high schoolers is an insult to the high schools of India.

I'm guessing former auto-rickshaw drivers with maybe a third grade education. Enough, barely, to recite scripts.

Because it's all about cost, you know.

Knowledge Base, not script. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771699)

Companies spend thousands of man hours developing a complex databse of scripts to fix problems. These knowledge bases cover topics from common password reset, to obscure directions for an IBM tape library emulator. The reason they spend all of this time and money to build these things, is so that they don't have to hire employees, and can eject contractors at will. Anyone can walk in the door and log in and read the solutions they find using keywords.

Now, how many people that work in a place like this just use a web search to find the answer anyway, because the knowledge base was written and designed by baby boomers with little education in their field that have managed to hold on to their job by stubbornly digging in and refusing to bow to progress. I don't think age discrimination applies when half of your employees are filling desks they don't belong in and the company floats on by riding the backs of a steady stream of "temporary staff" some of which will spend temporary decades in their temporary positions, and others that last just long enough to be "trained in."

This matters why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771721)

Considering I do not have anything beyond a high school deployment yet run some of the worlds largest data center operations?

Re:This matters why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771823)

Droids don't drink and so they are not allowed in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

Non College Grad Billionairs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771763)

OK...Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all dropped out of college. You do the math. These folks only have high school diplomas as well. Why will you not let non college grads support you? Do you use Windows, IE5.5-9, MAC, iPhone...Facebook? I'm sure you ALL do!

They all made more than the wages I see posted here.

Dude India high school student smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771857)

Hey check the ratings, just because the USA rates at the bottom of the high school achievement chart, maybe good enuf for asking you want fries with that? Does not mean other countries have much higher standards...

This is absolutely FALSE! (Sqore:55,000, Super!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771937)

They are NOT high-schoolers - they're all under the age of 12.

CAPTCHA = relents

...I just take my computer to the Apple Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40771957)

...where it is diagnosed and fixed right in front of my eyes. And that was for a serious hardware problem. Haven't had a need for any product support. It just works and works and works.

Non-apple fan boys, ignite your flamethrowers. Whooooooooooosh.

CS is not IT and IT needs apprenticeships / tech s (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#40771969)

CS is not IT and IT needs apprenticeships / tech schools. Even more so on the help desk / desktop / admin side.

Even in the A+, MS, ECT tests there is the book way and the way the works in the real work place.

There is a lot of stuff that needs to be learned in a tech school setting or on the job.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772231)

But what some are forgetting is that the high school education in parts of India is much better and they are educated to a level that easily exceeds sophomore or even senoir level US college courses.... ie: a high school graduate in India may be better educated than a 2 year or even a 4 year college graduate in the US...

Misleading (1)

cvenky (1209768) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772345)

Background: Indian, Bangalore and have worked for IBM. I do not know the intention behind this article, but I can assure that High school kids do not man GDC, or for that matter none of IT/ITeS companies employ Non-Grad people. They may hire non-techie grads but not High schoolers. In fact there are such a huge number of unemployed Grads roaming around for a job that you don't need to hire high school kids. Also(though not important) these days nobody in India considers a person as educated unless he is a university graduate.

"I see you have help desk experience!" (2)

Tekoneiric (590239) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772405)

Most of the help desks in the US are manned by people without degrees. There are plenty of people working help desk jobs while working towards a degree also. It’s kind of the new fast food job. The biggest difference between help desk workers with a degree and those without is the ones without don't owe huge student loans. I've seen plenty of people get a degree and stay in the help desk job. One of the biggest problems is if you have a degree and have a help desk job on your resume; employers will say "I see you have help desk experience!"

Worst Customer Service Ever = IBM (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about a year and a half ago | (#40772423)

I have to support a piece of software and IBM bought the company a few years ago, so when it came time to move to a new version I got to deal with IBM.

I spent 14 hours on the phone trying to get a price for a piece of software, most of the time I was shuttled around support people in India who couldn't help me, I was told that software prices were "restricted information", searching IBM's site for contact numbers got me developer's desk phones and they didn't know why the hell their numbers were posted on IBM's site.

Then I had months of weekly calls from sales people wanting to get a commission.

That's impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40772489)

India has four year and three year degrees. 4 yr degrees are engineering, medicine. 3 yr degrees are arts, sciences, and these days include a basic Computer/IT degree.

Most IT/ITeS firms used to hire only 4 yr grads for ANY kind of work. And if you look at the job market today, you can still hire a ton of recent 4 yr grads for about $200/m.

My guess is IBM wants to get in 3yr college grads for some kinds of work, because some 3yr grads would be better than the bottom rung of 4yr grads, and they'd be less likely to demand higher salaries later.

I can only recall one IT company that hires straight out of school, out of thousands that I've heard of.

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