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How to Keep America Competitive

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the going-where-the-money-is dept.

United States 652

pkbarbiedoll writes to tell us that in a recent Washington Post article, Bill Gates takes another look at the current state of affairs in computer science and education. According to Gates: "This issue has reached a crisis point. Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually. But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees. The United States provides 65,000 temporary H-1B visas each year to make up this shortfall — not nearly enough to fill open technical positions. Permanent residency regulations compound this problem. Temporary employees wait five years or longer for a green card. During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success and overall economic growth."

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Overworked? (5, Insightful)

wframe9109 (899486) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154594)

I went to college under the impression that I would graduate with a degree in Computer Science.

In the third lecture of the intro course, the teacher discussed spending all night coding for labs and so forth, and mentioned that it would prepare us for real life.

After a quick google session, I never went to the class again.

I'm sure there are places where you aren't forced to stay late or bring your work home with you... But the trend of overworking in real life occupations CS degrees can lead to is very damaging to interest in this degree.

If I wanted to concentrate on a job over things like family and a social life, I would go to med school.

That depends upon you and the job. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154636)

Some people prefer to work really late in "deep hack mode".

Others prefer 8-5 job and forget about the work when you leave.

It all depends upon your personality and the requirements of the job. And IF WHAT THE ARTICLE SAYS IS CORRECT finding a job more in line with your personality should be easy.

If what the article says is correct.

Au contraire (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155260)

And IF WHAT THE ARTICLE SAYS IS CORRECT finding a job more in line with your personality should be easy.

I read it differently. Bill Gates wants more H1-B workers which he can, unofficially, work at those kind of hours. That creates a watermark in the marketplace, against which non-H1B workers need to compete for jobs. I bet if Microsoft improved working conditions and company policies (both stemming from the same dysfunctional root, most likely) they'd have plenty of folks beating a path to their door.

Folks I've known who figured Microsoft would be the right place to work straight out of college have all "gotten the hell out" after a year or two. And it's not all about the hours - Apple has a much lower turnover rate and a lower percentage of H1-B's despite inhuman hour requirements.

Part of it is cultural - the 80-hour salaried job at Microsoft might be nirvana to a particular H1-B workers, but unacceptable to a well-educated American. Not to mention a Frenchman.

Re:Overworked? (1, Informative)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154650)

I don't know who you talked to, but that doesn't seem like a very fact-based view of the computer science field to me. But hey, what do I know? I just work in it...

Re:Overworked? (MOD UP) (1)

PetriBORG (518266) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154782)

Mod this guy up.

While I stuck with it, I can completely understand where he's coming from and know many people that didn't stick with it just for this reason. I've only had a hand full of times so far where I've "worked all night" for work - none of them turned out all that productive either! so point made >.

Re:Overworked? (1)

trevorrowe (689310) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154958)

There are jobs like that, but I have had 4 different jobs since I graduated with a BS in CS and none of them required such drastic overtime. I work on average 40 hours per week. When there is a special need I will put in casual overtime, but usually very little, a couple of hours perhaps. I prefer to spend my time at home with my family and there are more than enough jobs out there like this. Just don't plan on working for Microsoft or any game making company.

blameusa (1)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154966)

I can't wait for that tag to appear! ;)

Re:blameusa (5, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155288)

Mabye if we realized that international corporations owe no loyalty to any country, not even the one that they are headquartered in, there'd be no reason for such a tag because America isn't the problem. The problem is that economics is profoundly nationalistic and a form of warfare- and we've got a bunch of people selling weapons to both sides.

Re:Overworked? (4, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155132)

Your professor misled you. Yeah, sure, sometimes I'm up past midnight pounding out code.

But then the next day I get to sleep in until noon if I want.

"How late you stay up working" is only half the picture -- there's the unspoken assumption that you arrive in the office at the same time as everyone else, which is absolutely not necessarily the case. Every single programming job I've had (I've been in the industry for close to 20 years, worked at a couple big companies and a bunch of small ones) has had flexible schedules and sane comp time policies. And this is including a couple dot-com-boom startups. Now, maybe it's different if you're at a non-tech company, but the point is there are tons of jobs out there that don't require you to spend every waking hour working.

You can burn yourself out at any job. Burnout is 90% about you and only 10% about your employer, in my experience. And the trend toward longer hours is an American disease, not a CS one; you'll probably run into it no matter what industry you enter. (That's assuming you're in the US, which of course I don't actually know, so bad me if you're not.)

Re:Overworked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155150)

This has not been my experience. I work forty hours a week and have never felt any management or peer pressure to work more; I'm on salary, so I'm not paid by the hour either. A very few of my coworkers work into the night at times, but they do everything at the last minute.

H1-B and Student Visas != Permanent Solution (5, Interesting)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155296)

What do we need to do in order to produce more IT professionals? Take a look at the list below for a few idea.

Here's my solution:

1) Poll all current welfare and permanent disability recipients. See how many are interested and capable of learning to perform IT work.
2) Instead of continuing to pump money into a system that only perpetuates poverty, educate the people who are both interested and capable. Get them a CNA or MCSE and help them get their first job. After the first paycheck, government assistance ends since at that point you should be a) getting paid and b) have health coverage.
3) Increase funding for science and math teachers from elementary school to high school. We can use the money that we're saving from the public assistance programs to fund this.
4) Increase funding for music and art. While most people don't realize this, there is a strong connection between math and music as well as science and art in the human brain. Researchers are still trying to work out exactly what it is, but studies show that there is definitely a link for most people.
5) Raise instead of lower the requirements in order to graduate high school. One of my friends has a daughter who just started high school this year. The only math requirements for her to graduate are two semesters of math. What this means is that they're only required to take and pass Pre-Algebra I & II. Since most everyone on here are IT pros of some kind, I'm sure you're aware that this doesn't cut it for college. Algebra I & II, Geometry, and Trig should be the minimum requirements, IMHO.
6) As a corollary to #5, we need to raise the requirements for science as well. Her school district only requires two semesters of science. What this really means is that you take a semester of earth science and you take health class. IMHO, you should take Biology I & II, Chemestry I & II, Anatomy & Physiology, and Physics.
7) They do require 8 semesters of English, however, I can tell you that what passes for papers in many of these classes is laughable. I have a friend who teaches freshman & sophomore composition at a local university. The level of literacy among these kids is...horrific. I've helped her grade papers and seen things like an entire 3 page paper that was a single run on sentence. These kids do not know the difference between things like "to", "too", and "two". I cannot count the number of times I've seen someone write something like "I'm going two the store." "There", "their", and "they're" is another one that they don't seem to be aware of. Then there are the kids that write papers like they send IM and text messages, "UR 4 real?"
8) Ditch "no child left behind" philosophy. This blatantly ignores the fact that some of the kids *need* to be left behind. If they cannot keep pace in a regular classroom, they need to be sent to remedial classes until they are on a par with their peers. Keeping them in the regular classrooms has a negative effect on the kids who do their work and keep up. All this has done is resulted in a dumbing down of the entire curriculum. Here in Dallas, the school district recently published an article proclaiming their pride in the fact that only 25% of the graduates last year were functionally illiterate. They're proud of this figure because it's down from 33% last year. That means 1 in 4 high school graduates cannot read and write well enough to fill out a job application at Wal-mart. They cannot add and subtract well enough to make change for a dollar. That is absolutely shameful and how anyone in their right mind can take pride in that is beyond me.

2 cents,


Ha ha (4, Funny)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154604)

...and Microsoft will do anything to solve this "crisis" except spend money on it.

That's the government's job! (i.e. yours and mine) ...and meanwhile keep those cheap programmers coming from overseas, otherwise, where will the next version of Windows come from?

Re:Ha ha (1, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154758)

...and Microsoft will do anything to solve this "crisis" except spend money on it.
Ever heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? []

Addressing educational inequities, especially in the United States, is exactly what they do.

Re:Ha ha (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154922)

Addressing educational inequities, especially in the United States, is exactly what they do.

I thought investing in irresponsible companies, contributing to giving people respiratory failure is what they do.

Re:Ha ha (3, Informative)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154940)

What does that have to do with Microsoft? And how is that contributing to the problem Bill is whining about? I seem to remember a lawsuit a few years back attacking Microsoft over calling people who weren't engineers engineers. I seem to remember people being encouraged to not finish their CS degree so MS didn't have to pay them as much in the long run. I seem to remember twenty years of vicious market monopoly abuse. Two or three years of giving a little bit back doesn't make up for being a robber baron for twenty. In fact, I don't know if a hundred will, the way the foundation manages itself.

Re:Ha ha (1)

Canthros (5769) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155170)

If the lawsuit you speak of was in Texas, then it's probably specific to the way engineer as a title is treated in Texas. Texas law requires that all engineers be certified. It was once a relatively lax certification, but ISTR that they've tightened it up a lot, so that it's equivalent to other states' PE cert. (This even applies to software engineers, and could have been the cause of such a lawsuit.)

Re:Ha ha (2, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154954)

It's a great foundation, and I think they're terrific. However, while Bill Gates is a big shareholder of Microsoft, and he is the owner of the Foundation, they don't appear to be related at all. That is, Microsoft's will is not expressed via the Foundation, which is a good thing. They're more concerned with at-risk children, and the welfare of the planet, which doesn't necessary align with Microsoft's business plan.

But, I went to the link, and it doesn't mention anything about training U.S. programmers to help the crisis. In fact, if you look here at this link, [] you'll see the only thing they're trying to do is make sure U.S. students graduate from high school:

    "Significantly increasing the number of students who graduate from high school with the skills needed to succeed in college and work"

Which I find is terrific. I love that Bill and Melinda have really stepped up and helped.

However, I'm asking what Microsoft (not Bill Gates) is doing to help the situation. I would be interesting to see if they're spending more on H1-B lobbying, or actually spending money in the areas that I mentioned (or indeed any sort of Computer Science/Programmer training and encouragement). Do you know where we might find out how much is spent in those areas?

Let's see some scholarships. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155304)

And by "some", I mean enough to address at least 10% of their claimed "shortfall". If they really want to convince me, 20%+ would do it.

School isn't cheap and not many people want to invest the time and money in a CS degree when they believe that the jobs will be outsourced before they've paid off their college loans.

So, get rid of the worry about the loan by offering scholarships. Lots of scholarships. Every year.

Re:Ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155012)

> Addressing educational inequities, especially in the United States, is exactly what they do.

Any records on the foundations addressing the inequities through Linux, OpenSolaris, OpenOffice, and other free software instead of Windows and MS Office and other Microsoft technologies?

If that's not the case, then Microsoft would *gain* from the donations far more than they spend.

Hmm (4, Insightful)

Erwos (553607) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154642)

Seems to me that the appropriate way of handling this issue would be for the US to encourage more students to take up CS as their degree, and do more to encourage smart, well-educated professionals to immigrate here - permanently. Temporary visas and the like seem to be band-aids rather than real solutions.

I don't care where they're from - this country can only do better to have more educated folks living in it.

Re:Hmm (1)

cnlohfin3109 (758597) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154736)

ooorrr, disencourage people to get into the major. Im getting offers weekly from all over the states and I still have a year left of college. The "crisis" is terrible alright... I may get to work where I want to work and get paid well for it.

Re:Hmm (1)

Old Grey Beard (869804) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154766)

I disagree. More workers is more of a workaround than a solution, and doesn't scale well.

A better approach is to make IT software smarter so you don't need so many employees.

(But I also agree having talented immigrants is invariably good for the host country, even though it's taking my job away or cutting my salary. Creative destruction and all that).

Re:Hmm (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154894)

I disagree; you need both, and I think this is actually mathematically provable (unless the cost of labor and/or technology is zero, which they aren't). In a classical output optimization problem, you've got two variables: physical labor and technology. At a certain point, it's inefficient to start substituting technology for labor, and vica versa. This is exactly why in Japan, where labor is getting comparatively more expensive/scarce than here, you see greater use of robotics/technology in output production. It's not that they're "better" than the US or Europe - they've just got a different set of variables to work with.

More technology is not always the best answer. I know that rankles some of the Slashdot crowd, but that's the way it happens.

Re:Hmm (1)

cnlohfin3109 (758597) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154980)

More technology is not always the best answer.

Re:Hmm (1)

OldAndSlow (528779) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154972)

How exactly would you have the US encourage folks to study CS? For better or worse, the US is capitalist, free market. So to encourage people to become computer scientists, we should increase CS salaries.

Instead, our government, at the behest of companies like Microsoft, is doing its best to suppress engineering salaries. Gates says we need 100,000 developers a year. Gates says we bring in 65,000 H1-B's a year. My experience is that H1-B's make half what citizens and green card holders make. You do the math. Why should any rational person invest $100,000 to $250,000 for a degree that lets them compete with folks who think $25/hr is a great wage?

Re:Hmm (1)

KPU (118762) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155238)

Or pay for my tuition.

Re:Hmm (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155032)

Not to mention- it sure would be nice to make computer science an evolutionarily viable career. Say, enough time off to find a wife, have kids, raise a family; while still keeping a salary large enough to pay for such things. That sort of thing.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155172)

Maryland offered a scholarship for those entering state schools, majoring in computer science. For each year you took the scholarship, you were bound to work in the state for a year in that field. It was gov Glendening's way of filling the need for the jobs.

Unfortunately, I took this scholarship for 4 years, only to have to leave school 40 credits shy of my degree. I've now been working in the state for over three years, but since I didn't get my degree I'm obligated to pay the whole thing back (at a reasonable interest rate).

Dirty tactic, but it worked for suckers like me!

Re:Hmm (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155294)

I agree. Encouraging short-term "intellectual migrants" who you work to the bone (because you can) is a very self defeating policy. It would be much more valuable to a country to encourage those folks to either become citizens or (gasp) encourage its own citizens to get degrees in computer science. The latter would be relatively simple to accomplish with a scholarship/grant program.


When salaries go up, the shortage is real (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154656)

There's no shortage. Salaries are too low.

As the IEEE points out, relative engineering salaries have been declining since the 1970s.

What Gates is whining about is that there aren't enough people willing to learn the ins and outs of Microsoft's software and work around its problems in the field. What he wants are cheap janitors to clean up the Mess from Redmond.

Re:When salaries go up, the shortage is real (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155112)

Yah, Redmond isn't the place to be with a CS degree, you want to be in gaming specifically Electronic Arts.

Re:When salaries go up, the shortage is real (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155126)

Certainly he wants the work to be done as inexpensively as possible. Any well run business should want the same thing as those that allow salaries to grow out of control are doomed in the long run.

Among the many many mistakes made by the US auto industry was the thinking that since labor was such a small percentage of what it cost to make their product they didn't need to control it. Before long a guy running a screw gun was making $22/hour to screw in a tenth as many screws as a robot in Japan with a capitalized cost of $0.001/hour. Then our US screw gun operator himself was replaced by a robot but he couldn't fired because the collective bargaining agreement prevented it, so he sat in the break room and made $22/hour to play hearts with all the other guys who used to do robot jobs.

As much as people like you want to bleat about how much you need to make to live like a human being the reality is that there are thousands of people right now making rafts out of the empty chemical barrels we sent them our waste in, preparing to cross miles and miles of ocean, so they can crawl through a drain pipe, just for the privlege of doing twice as much as you do for half the pay and far less than half the complaining. So sit here and bellyache about how Microsoft won't pay this or that and that isn't enough money. Someone will be along shortly to make you irrelevant anyway. People like you laughed when all the manufacturing jobs were outsourced, now we see that an engineer and a programmer and even a doctor, can be replaced by a cheaper version just like the screw gun guy.

How about the 17-year education lag? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154662)

How about the fact that most people have to go through 17+ years of education to do one of these jobs (k-12 + 4-year program) even though you clearly don't need that much training? Plus either get someone else to pay for it or go deep in debt at an early age. Most of the education system has very little to do with your job, and everything to do with ID'ing yourself as in the x-th percentile of intelligence, because employers can't run such tests themselves.

I mean, it's great to learn all that extra stuff, get new "perspectives", be "well-rounded", etc. I won't deny that at all. But isn't it more important that you be able to live independently first, in a job commensurate with your abilities?

Re:How about the 17-year education lag? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154968)

I mean, it's great to learn all that extra stuff, get new "perspectives", be "well-rounded", etc. I won't deny that at all. But isn't it more important that you be able to live independently first, in a job commensurate with your abilities?

What you're talking about is a program that would produce mindless drones. We expose people to a multitude of content in school so that they are aware of things beyond the end of their nose.

Re:How about the 17-year education lag? (1, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155266)

Give me a break. Someone lacking the liberal arts education required up through a four-year program is a "mindless drone" who is unaware of "things beyond the end of their nose"?

Again, I agree these things are great to have, but it's a matter of prioritization. Do you really support holding all kinds of productive people off the market, dependent, deep in debt at an unnecessarily young age to avoid the horrors of insufficient Shakespeare appreciation?

Further Reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18154680)

For anyone interested, here's a link to my former CS professor's page on the subject containing several good articles. []

Capitalism to the Rescue! (1)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154684)

Well, the Capitalist answer is that the shortage in qualified applications should cause the average salary within the industry to rise correspondingly. The increase in average salary then will make the IT field more attractive to college students, thus eventually solving the work force shortage.

There is no more "IT labor shortage" than there is an "oil shortage." Those who claim shortage are either disingenuous or are ignorant of basic economics.

Re:Capitalism to the Rescue! (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155024)

The answer is that the US has created an environment where

1) Their population is accustomed to a lifestyle that can only be sustained by having subject colonies sending wealth back to the center.

2) Their local population is not educated enough to enjoy intellectual pursuits and have been conditioned not to find them rewarding

3) Aside from these factors, their population has been in decline since the rise of modern feminism made careers and consumption more important than reproduction

4) The structure of society means that those who get educated early are specialized into getting more while those who don't get educated early are considered a poor investment, so most of the kids are born to the least educated in the population.

Americans have spent the last hundred years running their culture into the ground.

If they want to keep their societies critical infrastructure running, they're going to have to move in so much foreign population that their indigenous population, with all their social values, are in the minority. Those who were raised in the US will also be the least educated in the country. Democracy will then wipe their culture out.

If they don't go this way, their society will collapse as the baby boomers find there is no one to hand the reigns to and not enough young people to even keep the lights running.

Unless the young people in the culture take the reigns by force, the elder people will choose the first option because the old Americans with the political power care more about their personal comfort than their childrens future or their societies future, and they always have.

The IT shortage and all the accompanying noises are symptoms of this underlying rot.

Re:Capitalism to the Rescue! (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155234)

All these temporary visas for foreign workers that make less money, they're an attempt by the rich old people to play the aforementioned both ways and keep the crisis at bay until they're safely dead and in the ground.

This is the underlying justification for those visas that overcomes all other intelligent objections.

Dang, you're pessimistic... (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155240)

..but I also suspect you're at least partly right.

e.g. in the face of mounting evidence that the U.S. "intellectual property" regime is a big contributor to the stagnation of innovation, BG's opinion is that "Government investment in research, strong intellectual property laws and efficient capital markets are among the reasons that America has for decades been best at transforming new ideas into successful businesses."

The guy's recommending that we foster more innovation by buying more-completely into the rampant delusions of the "content industry" and the patent trolls.

Re:Capitalism to the Rescue! (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155092)

I have two problems with that idea. First, it implies that the reallocation of resources will be instantaneous. Second, it implies that what is in the best short term interests of an entity is also in the best short term interests of society, and also in the best long term interests of both society and that entity.

Take, for example, the H1(b) temporary visas. Sure, this solves the resource shortage in the short term, but unless those people permanently move to the US, they're simply going to take their skills back home and lead to a brain drain, causing the companies that hired them and the US economy at large to suffer.

Re:Capitalism to the Rescue! (3, Insightful)

Archtech (159117) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155114)

"Well, the Capitalist answer is that the shortage in qualified applications should cause the average salary within the industry to rise correspondingly".

Unfortunately for everyone but the capitalists, that turns out not to be the case. Please notice the critical obfuscating function performed in the quoted sentence by the word "should". That is, the average salary *should* rise if simplistic Economics 101 formulae about demand and supply held good in the real world. As it happens, they don't. A quick look at US business reveals that there must have been an appalling shortage of ambitious, self-centred, suit-wearing chair-warmers recently - because look where their average salaries have wound up! Someone put a rocket under those suckers, and believe me it wasn't "demand". It was the utter determination of managers (yes, we're talking about managers here) to make as much money as they possibly can while the sun shines. They are aided in this quest by the remarkable fact that everyone's salaries are decided by... well, what do you know - managers!

A couple of years ago, I had an interesting little chat with a director of a UK-based IT recruitment consultancy while we were both waiting for the next conference session to begin. Among other things, he let me know that all the companies he dealt with saw programmers as "very much like bricklayers", and none of them would dream of paying a programmer more than about $40K. When I asked what would happen if they couldn't find any takers, he said airily that his clients would simply defer their software projects until they could hire programmers at "the appropriate rate". In other words, the executives in question would rather eat their own lungs than pay a programmer more than a quarter of what they themselves get.

Quoting economic theory doesn't cut much ice, especially when it is directly contradicted by the observed facts. Unlike real sciences, economics is a big sheaf of educated guesswork, elegant models in search of an application, and clever people talking themselves into important jobs and big salaries. As someone once remarked, there is no economist so distinguished that you can't find another, equally distinguished, to call him a gold-plated liar. And as someone else noted, "if all the economists in the world were laid end to end it would be a very good thing".

Re:Capitalism to the Rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155352)

Word up. We're becoming the autoworkers of the 21st century. The execs are starting to look at us as replaceable cogs in their machine just like any other "human resource". Unless we unionize we're going to get the shaft. Within 15 years programmers are going to be just another lowly job like "customer service specialist".

Economics lesson for Billy (5, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154688)

Gates must have dropped out before taking Econ 101.

A labor shortfall in a free market ALWAYS results in higher wages which ends up drawing more people into the field. Once an employment saturation point is achieved, salaries decline and employment levels off.

H-1B visas artificially increase the labor supply while decreasing wage growth. This attempt to "makeup the shortfall" will only further depress CS enrollments. Why on earth would a prospective student go into CS if the money is not there, and labor is being imported to further drive down wages?

Gates is not a stupid man - he knows these economic rules, and lowering wages is the only reason to push for more H-1B visas.


Re:Economics lesson for Billy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18154830)

Yes, and I'm told at my university that I may have trouble getting a job due to outsourcing and foreign workers in my country.

Microsoft wants india wages in the US so they don't have to outsource yet still get the potential savings.

Re:Economics lesson for Billy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155356)

Gates must have dropped out before taking Econ 101.

Um, he majored in economics. At Harvard.

There is a shortage of wage slaves (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154692)

That's the problem. There is a shortage of people willing to work 80 hrs a week for $60K with a relocation to West Gopher Hole, South Dakota.

Blah blah blah not enough high schools teach Microsoft coding skills. Blah blah blah not enough Indians coming to America to debug Redmond's code. Blah blah blah we need more wage slaves.

Re:There is a shortage of wage slaves (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154836)

Have you seen the state of some of our cities? West Gopher Hole doesn't sound so bad sometimes.

Re:There is a shortage of wage slaves (1)

cnlohfin3109 (758597) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154926)

not to mention im sure 60k there will put you at the top 3%. I know here in minnesota (not cities) very few make over 50k. CS majors (the ones that actually worked in college) are getting more then that right out of school.

Re:There is a shortage of wage slaves (2, Insightful)

isaac (2852) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155242)

That's the problem. There is a shortage of people willing to work 80 hrs a week for $60K with a relocation to West Gopher Hole, South Dakota.

No, $60k in South Dakota would be fine. The problem is they want to pay $60k in Seattle, where the median home price is >$450k.


How do you figure? (1)

powerpants (1030280) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154694)

During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success...

Work not getting done for some reason? (5, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154706)

I have no idea why there would be such a need for more workers, it's almost as if all the employed engineers are busy doing something else at work, like going to some website and posting comments or something... nah, that can't be it!

What about fixing the system? (1)

leandrod (17766) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154718)

There are no silver bullets. But from what I see, better (more exigent) schools, truly RDBMSs (*not* SQL), functional programming, formal methods, open systems would go a long way of making people more productive, not to mention the free market perspective: just open the borders.

I am sure each one will have his own list. I would put Unicode, well-formed SGML and TeX everywhere in the list too, but I feel they wouldn't be such a huge boost to productivity.

100,000 jobs ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18154726)

100,000 jobs, fine. But how many of these *really* require a college degree in CS? I spent a few years doing consultant type work, and finally got sick working alongside "kids" (sorry) doing stints in the industry before moving on to Med, Law or Business school. There are jobs that require college level engineering, and I'm happy to occupy one, but I doubt that they account for more than 10% of the total.

Government Interference (2, Insightful)

Inmatarian (814090) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154742)

The problem, as I see it, isn't that the government has been doing to little, but rather, doing too much. In classic economics, when there aren't enough workers to fill the roles, salaries and working conditions increase for the valued few. People see how well they're treated and desire these jobs, and go to college to learn how to do it.

In the current state, the government fills far too many of those jobs with foreign born workers, offering them no chance to become American citizens and forcing them to work for a fifth of what American workers cost. These foreigners are abused with long hours, and then sent back to where ever they came from either when they show discontent, or what citizenship is in their sights.

The solution is to make efforts to make these foreign workers into American workers, so they can compete the same way we do. Until that happens, the wage gap will continue to be wide, and the abuses will continue.

Re:Government Interference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155184)

Indeed the government has been doing too much rather than too little. What should occur is that the government should not permit any foreign workers to come in. Then, as you state, salaries and working conditions increase, people see how well they're treated and desire these jobs, and go to college to learn how to do it.

American businesses will have to make a business decision; to either 1) continue to participate in the American society, where things like enforcement of contract law, good communications and relative ease of transport are taken for granted, or 2) move all operations to countries where labor costs are less, but contract law and transport become more problematic. Option 1 means businesses will be a bit short on workers in some areas for a few years, but those newly-trained workers who do plop out of the colleges in a few years will know their careers will have a far more stable future.

Currently, American businesses are bringing in so many foreign workers, who have no intention of becoming American (regardless of their citizenship status), that the society is becoming extremely strained. The same society whose business-friendly environment enabled the creation of all those businesses in the first place. I would remind them that it is difficult to conduct normal business while an invasion or civil war is taking place.

What if there were no immigration quotas? (5, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154752)

Here's a thought:

What if there were no immigration quotas?

What if we let anyone and everyone except criminals, terrorists, and those incapable of working come in by just paying port fees, putting down a deposit for a return airplane or bus ticket, and showing they either had a job offer or had a month's worth of living expenses available? Give them all work-authorization cards.

In the first few years there would be a lot of wage-adjustments as certain markets like high-tech, manual-labor, and low-wage retail got flooded but in the long run I think it would be good for the overall economy. Instead of high-tech jobs going to India dragging down American wages, high-tech jobs would remain here at depressed wages but the American economy would benefit from the local employment. It would also give the few Americans who are truly lazy or underperforming a kick in the proverbial kiester if they want to stay employed.

So what if I and my fellow technocrats see wages drop to below $35,000 for starting college grads and proportionately lower for experienced programmers? If it means a more robust American economy and better cultural exchanges with the larger immigrant populations then I'm all for it.

Re:What if there were no immigration quotas? (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154850)

Works if 'the economy' is more important than 'the Americans'.

We could go the other extreme (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155232)

No immigration for work, except very temporary visas for people whose jobs cross international borders, like pilots, salesmen, or people whose jobs take them to trade shows, training seminars, etc. Absolutely no new immigration where the person gets a paycheck from a US address. No regular student visas either, just temporary 30-day ones for short-term training seminars. Legal and illegal aliens with jobs would be given permanent residency and all-purpose work permits others would be given visitor visas. All visitors would be tracked and deported if they worked for money or overstayed their visas and anyone paying them would be severely punished.

Let's see, what would happen a year after this got implemented:
  • The illegal-alien problem would go away, as any remaining alien job-holders would be legal.
  • Unless we had a boon in training programs and baby-making, there would be a labor shortage in certain areas as talent pool shrank. There is already such a shortage in the health-care field and for a time there was a teacher shortage.
  • As today, high-cost jobs that can be exported will be exported, particularly "intellectual services" jobs like X-Ray-interpreters and computer programmers that cannot be reasonably protected by protectionist tariffs.
  • The number of new aliens in this country would decline over time, leading to a loss in cultural exchange
  • Certain high-demand sectors that could not be exported would have high wages, leading to high costs for those who used those services.
  • If trends don't change, the US population would gradually decline due to low birth rate
  • On the "good news" side of things, resource use would go down, as would traffic congestion and pollution.

Re:What if there were no immigration quotas? (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154982)

If it really did work this way, a college degree would also drop in price from $50,000 for four years to $12,000 for four years. Your cars would drop from $25,000 to $19,000. Your DVD's would drop from $22 to $19.

In that kind of environment, I'd be happy to take a pay cut. The problem is corporations are making a lot of money (record profits for Exxon, a multi BILLION dollar cash chest that Microsoft can't even find ways to spend) and getting artificial laws passed to restrain trade (TV shows months behind in Australia, DVD's for $2.49 in China but $19.99 here that are illegal to re-import, etc.).

With America's relative safety and fair legal system, people with money from all over the world are bidding up our property so we are having more trouble affording to live here. (Galveston- the average house is now 500,000 dollars- their schools are closing because no one with kids can afford to live their and all the real residents of Galveston are being forced to move to the mainland, Any ski area- same problem. Any pretty area- same problem).

The question is how many hours do you have to work to get housing and a hamburger. It's been increasing for the last 9 or 10 years.

Re:What if there were no immigration quotas? (2, Insightful)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155108)

Do that and watch the number of mortgage forecloses go up a few thousand percent as many white collar workers can no longer afford their homes. The housing market will die out putting builders out of work as a 10 year backlog of unsold homes hits the market with no takers. Auto workers will go out of work as the market for luxury cars and suv's dries up (but think of how this will help global warming!). Maybe in a few years things will level out, but the president that presides of this disaster will go down in history right next to Herbert Hoover.

Re:What if there were no immigration quotas? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155166)

So what if I and my fellow technocrats see wages drop to below $35,000 for starting college grads and proportionately lower for experienced programmers? If it means a more robust American economy and better cultural exchanges with the larger immigrant populations then I'm all for it.

If everybody who has a college degree is earning under $35,000/year- and porportionately lower for experience- who exactly will pay for your more robust economy? An economy needs consumers as well as owners- or else it will collapse.

My recommendation- only trade with countries willing to pay HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES a minimum of $100,000 a year or more. Try to bring the entire world up to that level. With more money out there, inflation will happen, prices will rise, and you'll get more money per unit! It'll trash investing and dividends, but you can always go back to work....

As long as you treat employees like crap (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154792)

You will only have crap employees. Maybe it's time to start actually being competitive in hiring and lifestyle as well as being competitive in the marketplace; after all, full time employees in Europe and Japan enjoy the ability to buy a home, settle down in one place, and raise a family.

Either that or it's time for the United States to realize that economics is a form of warfare for rich countries- and get serious about winning economic wars with our peers instead of wasting money losing military wars with our inferiors. If so, we'll need to realize that the international corporation is effectively a double agent traitor or the arms dealer who sells to both sides- and treat those businesses accordingly.

It's 400,000 H1-B's, not 65,000 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18154806)

There was a recent thread on the groups recently, which showed that the actual number of H1-B's issued was over 400,000 last year. And it's been that way for several years now.

This was according to a report from the U.S. Government. The reason for the excessive numbers is that no one polices the actual issuance of H1-B's. And this doesn't count the L1-B's, which are even easier to get from what I have noticed.

I'm at work now, and don't have access to my dice account. If anyone cares to dig up the actual thread, that might be useful.

So, in short, Gates and the other CEO's are talking out of their butts.

Don't even go there, Bill (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154808)

There was an article posted outside of a professor's door when I was in college a year and a half ago talking about Microsoft's problem with treating even its IT contractors right. Maybe the real reason that IT is "suffering" is that companies often don't treat their IT employees like real employees. My fiance's dad, for example, has been proven to be a strategic asset to his company, but when he had to switch jobs because the client's manager found out that he made more money than she did, his boss basically said "ain't my duty to lift a finger to find you work" until it became a possibility that a competitor might pick him up. Given his reputation, that's actually possible. Hell, the abuses that IT workers ranging from sysadmins to software engineers face at the hands of corporate bureaucrats is legendary, and many young people are turned off/scared of that! Who wants to get paid a modest salary for that, especially women? My fiance can't take the abuse from the corporate types over her which is part of the reason why she fully intends to say "fuck this industry" and become a stay at home mother coding in her spare time for fun and to teach her kids if they're interested.

And the thing is that people like Bill Gates don't even care that they are adding to this by calling for the dilution of wages even more, at the same time that many "good liberals" like Gates support high taxes, high regulations and other things that cut into the competitiveness of the average worker compared to foreign workers and reduce the wages of the domestic workers. Yes, I know I'm cynical.

Re:Don't even go there, Bill (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154994)

>How to Keep America Competitive

Break up cumbersome monopolies?

Re:Don't even go there, Bill (2, Insightful)

kconfig (752340) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155136)

You are absolutely right. If you do even a cursory search for IT abuse/lack of respect, what sane person would want to enter this field? Even CIO magazine has numerous articles on getting buy-in/respect/etc from other peers. Hell, if an executive has to fight to earn respect at the top, what can a line manager or grunt expect. IT itself is a crazy field - while you can earn a decent living, putting up with the constant changes, lack of true respect from business peers, and too many that use technology but don't even have a basic understanding of it is a maddening career choice. Or, maybe I'm just crazy and burnt out after 15 years in the field

Wanna keep America competitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18154890)

Bill has it wrong, but that's not surprising considering how he underestimated the internet.

Wanna keep America competitive? Hire seasoned American workers, not just green kids out of college or H-1B visa workers. America is its own largest customer, but Americans don't buy as much if its workers aren't employed in high paying jobs.

Employing cheap labor from overseas is not the answer. The foreigners just go back home eventually and build upon what they learned here, competing with our engineers while living in a shack made from straw and old car parts. Americans want and deserve a better standard of living.

CS Jobs? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154892)

WTF does that mean? Creating provably correct AI banking software? Or hacking together a website so that it is nothing more than 'COBOL in drag'? Or applying service packs to aging, cranky Windows boxen?

For 99% of the work out there a CS degree is wasted. For the other 1% no one respects it unless you have a Phd.

And I know I am sounding like a broken record, but I will say it again. Most of the problem is that software, including most commercial and some OSS development tools (billg, I'm talking about your crap mostly) is broken. It requires an army of programmers and support people to keep it running or get development done. You have 2 choices:

1) Find a way to produce cheaper armies of techies or
2) fix the software, fix the developent processes.

And if you read 'The Mythical Man-Month', option 1 will probably not work and lead to the need for even *more* techies. But since everyone seems to insist on using the factory model of software development (ok, there are a few exceptions) option 1 is what will be implemented.

Just FYI, gave the boss the finger the other day. I am no longer in IT. Hoooray!
You youngsters can have my job but remember, in 15 years; or less; you will be me.

Re:CS Jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155218)


A programmer can make a user interface.
A Computer Scientist can prove it.

And "Computer Science" means?.... (1)

bluesangria (140909) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154902)

Step 1) Define "Computer Science Employment"

Last I checked, people couldn't even agree on what "Computer Science" meant and what should be taught in the curriculum to accurately call a degree a "Computer Science" degree. Does he mean more C# programmers? More System Administrators? More help desk support? More electrical engineers specializing in micro-processor design? More mathematicians creating a new MP3 algorithm that isn't patented? WTF does he mean "computer science employment??

What if all the students for the next four years got math degrees, but couldn't do computers worth a damn? Would that help the "CS worker" shortage?? Or would it just improve our worldwide math scores?

This is news? (5, Insightful)

J.R. Random (801334) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154924)

A super rich capitalist wants to increase his profits by importing more cheap labor.

It will be news when a super rich capitalist says, "Sure, it costs a little more to hire American citizens, but I do that because I don't want to see this continued race to the bottom, with the level of economic inequality in this country soon to exceed that of Brazil."

It Takes Time (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154964)

Technology is making great leaps in availability and penetration into our society. As a result, more and more people are knowledgeable and interested in the different fields that make up the industry. It takes time for these 14 year old MySpace kids to nurture those interests and attend college for a degree. Now that kids are much more involved with the internet beyond just IM and chat, the industry will gain a whole new group of people interested in technology in one area or another.

Once the penetration of the internet and broadband reach a certain threshold (I dont know it), a more predictable market should exist. At that point, the demand for skilled professionals will be met a couple years later when the MySpace kids who have been waiting to graduate college finally do.

Oh, come on, Bill, you may have Aspergers, but... (4, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 6 years ago | (#18154978)

There is no shortage of US engineers -- there is only a shortage of young engineers -- and of managers who see the difference between a line of code and productivity. Not one of the guys over 40 I know is making as much now as he was BEFORE 1996 and most of them have been unemployed most of the time since the year 2000 -- this during a time when real estate costs have skyrocketed along with H-1b imports.

This includes guys who were college buddies of Ray Ozzie and helped him with his CS homework. Yeah, I went to the University of Illinois and worked on the PLATO project as a system programmer.

And don't give me garbage about "keeping up on your skills" when the guys I've most closely worked with -- these obsolete aging engineers who "don't keep up on their skills" -- were doing 50K line Javascript web applications back in 1997 and couldn't get the mind-share among the "luminaries" who were all agog about Java -- and do we even need to talk about VB?

There has been a demographic collapse among young engineers because the prior generation of engineers couldn't afford to have children [] even if they could find a wife in one of the male saturated ghettos created by guys like you [] . The few young men sired by engineers are all-too-aware of what you've done to their fathers and they'll be better off going into real estate or moving out to a little plot of land in the country living an eco-friendly subsistence lifestyle.

You see they know they are from a culture that respects women's sovereignty to the point that arranged marriages are out of the question -- unlike the hoards you idiots are importing.

Well, sorry, you're obviously not idiots. You're probably suffering from a mild form of Aspergers to be so unaware of these profound social problems afflicting your subjects -- sort of like a "nobility" that just can't understand why their subjects don't eat cake and then try to guillotine them. My nephew has a fairly severe form of Aspergers but he can get along a lot better now that he is self-aware about it and the limitations it places on his judgement about human social relations. Sometimes reality makes one sound like a satirist but there is truth to what I'm saying here.

What has changed since the early 90's? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155006)

If the old-timers can be believed, before 1995 people *looked forward* to new releases of software. Not only new products, but whole new categories of software were being created. No nation in the world could keep up.

What, exactly, has changed since then, and who was responsible?

This is a bad thing? (1)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155008)

I see this as resulting in increased salaries and job security for those of us who have to work down in the trenches. um, w00t?

What's the problem again? (5, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155018)

I'm not in the US, nor a US citizen, but I thought the US companies wanted to send those jobs overseas anyway? Why should smart US students waste X years doing CS, graduate and then have their jobs outsourced or have to compete for jobs treated as "cheap labour" by companies (after all what's the H1-B thing really about)?

If the companies keep changing their minds, well too bad for them.

Meanwhile, it's supply and demand. Not enough applicants? Start offering higher salaries and better working conditions then - too bad you'd probably have to wait a while - try thinking longer term next time.

Otherwise I think they just want more silly people to rush into CS just to increase supply and keep prices down.

The real crisis is the shortage of people with competence and integrity, rather than a shortage of people who do Computer Science.

Raise Wages and provide training. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155020)

Mr.Gates can afford it. I've never heard of a job an American wont to for decent working conditions and decent pay.

All this nonsense about a "talent shortage" is just that ... non sense. We've heard about a "nurse shortage" for about 80 years now. The fact is, rich hospitals and nursing homes don't want to pay the going rate for labor services. They'd like their own private supply of non-union, foreign 28 year olds (which other businesses wouldn't be allowed to steal).

It's the same with microsoft. They could easily provide training to smart young college graduates or re-train mid-career folks. Sure, it'd take a couple of years to get them productive, but that's cost business has to pay to stay competitive.

CS degrees not needed (1)

rla3rd (596810) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155022)

The number of people graduating with CS degrees is not an accurate measure of shortfall in the industry. I for one do not have a CS degree, but a Masters Degree in Financial Management, and am currently taking financial engineering coursework. All my programming experience is self taught, and I develop quantitative trading strategies for an investment research firm / hedge fund. I may not be a master in any one language, but am able to put together computer models in C++, R (SPLUS), python, etc. There are many people out there who are working in software development that are not from a CS background, but with in depth knowledge of a specific field. I suggest for anyone entering the software development field to develop the understanding of a specific field, and develop your computer skills along the way. I did this, and my pay is now much higher than it would be, had if I majored in computer science.

Re:CS degrees not needed (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155230)

>> but am able to put together computer models in C++, R (SPLUS), python, etc.

With all due repsect, people like you are a part of the problem. People that think that being able to hack code is the same as doing a good job.

It sounds like you are being paid for your banking/business skills, not your software development skills, which is fine. but please don't fool yourself that you can produce high-quality software. You will never produce software with the same quality as someone who was motivated to do a CS degree and who got the proper education. The fact that you didn't do a CS degree points to the fact that the subject didn't interest you as much as the subject you studied, or that you have enough training to even be aware of some of the issues.

How would you feel if you were going in for an operation by a surgeon who studied history of art but taught himself to be handy with a knife?

US education isn't a good preparation. (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155026)

The fundamental problem is this: We don't value education or hard work as a society. We're overly obsessed with celebrities, sports stars, or whatever other distraction is going on. The educational system itself de-emphasizes fundamental stuff like math and science in favor or "softer" subjects like art and literature. As a result, we turn out project managers and marketing people, not geeks.

Other cultures embrace education and drill it into kids' heads that it's in their best interest to do well. Other countries have a culture where it's shameful to fail. Not getting into a good college is a suicide-triggering event. The best students in India, China, Japan, etc. study for hours and hours a day, and come out of school knowing how to do math, solve problems, and logically work through something like an IT problem. While the US does produce _some_ people like that, the vast majority are just doing the minimum to get by. I was by no means a top student, but I do work hard. I expect people that I work with to have the same work ethic and ability to reason, and am constantly disappointed.

With these facts, I have no trouble believing that companies can't find qualified individuals to fill positions. I think some of it is definitely a ploy to use cheaper labor, but it's not all a scam.

The answer is.. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155028)

After the bust, there were a siginificant amount of unemployed programmers suddenly on the market place amd employers got used to paying artificially cheap salaries to programmers, who just took any offer to get a job.

The situation now is that employers have got used to cheap developers and now don't want to wake up and smell the coffee and pay us what we're really worth again, so the job is less attractive to those currently making career decisions. This actually benefits those of us who are already qualified/employed, as our value goes up further due to the ongoing shortage.

Its not hard to see that the next phase coming is a period of high developer turnover, as more enlightened companies offer more realistic salaries and attract developers from lower-paid companies.

Those companies that choose not to substantially increase their developers salaries will lose out by being forced to contract out. This will hurt most the companies that outsource to places like India as they consequently get further hurt by massive hidden costs due to large amounts of rework through the lack of quality in the resulting product, developers lack of cultural understanding of the product's market, lack of workable project management, and sharply rising salaries in India.

It always amazes me that employers consitently never can see the real hidden costs of letting their best developers walk out the door, and usually choose a path where they loose millions in rework and lost sales rather than increase salaries by a few thousand.

No worries (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155064)

The credit bubble crash will fix this right up.

Ancedotal evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155098)

If there are so many unfilled CS jobs out there, then why can't I, with 25 years experience and a relatively modest asking price, find another job?

America never was competitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155106)

They stole IP (ususally from the UK) or bullied and manipulated their way to dominance (via the WTO etc)

IT degree (2, Interesting)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155154)

At my college we have the CS majors... and the IT majors. Every year we lose CS majors and IT gains students.

IT majors do 2 programming courses and a no advanced math(no calc). CS majors have a harder dergee program and our college doesn't give a shit about us. They spend time talking about their 100% placement rate with IT major and how all the IT majors are on the management level within 5 years making six figures. Many of the IT majors have their oh so superior "I'll be your boss one day" attitudes which is only reinforced by the attitude of the faculty. It pisses me off to no end because they tout programming skills but if you asked them to do anything more advanced than simple nested for loops and method calls in java they would give you a blank look and go "huh?". Then they make a comment about their golfing skills scoff and walk away. I will plot your downfall you sonofabitch and you won't know what hit you... ahem.. sorry got a little carried away there.

The scary part is with few exception the CS majors look like stereotypical CS majors. Its really scary. Some of us go to the gym or run everyday. The problem is many of us don't and that is the ones people see. The other problem is we have a ton of primadonas. The ones who sit and basically scoff at their classes and claim to be mad hackers. The thing is they are for the most part pretty damned smart. They are to arrogant to do anything or work with other people and they will manage to get their degree and they won't be able to do jack shit in the real world because they refuse to do the mundane programming. They want glamor. These are guys who are about to graduate.

My first semester I got bored and went back and looked at all the mistakes I made registering for classes. One of them was packing my classes into 5 hour work chunks a day or having 2 classes back top back that were way to far away. I spent the next few hours writing some pseudo code. I also asked a friend of mine who is a civil engineering major if he could give me distances between all the building using all the heavily used walking paths on campus. Once I figured it out me and another CS major who was in his third year wrote the actual code up and we took it to the guy who administrates our class scheduling and registration system. He liked it, had another guy on the staff help us adapt it to better work with the database and the front end we employ and we added it. Next semester we saved countless freshman a lot of trouble. We got thanked, credited, were given good experience, I got a recommendation that will help me with any internships I apply for, and hell it was kinda fun to do.

The CS primadonas gave me disdain because I did something so simple that they could do "blindfolded", something that was below their wizardry. IT majors were still pompous arrogant assholes.

It might just be me but since the CS profession lost that bit of glamor it had we have been attracting for the most part the wrong sort of people. We need to make it so its worth the time to get a CS major again instead of making a CS major a miserable experience. That however is just my 0.02$ based on my narrow little slice of hell. Thank god I'm going to a different college next year and starting my game design degree then my masters in CS.

First mistake - assuming they need a degree (1)

cstec (521534) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155178)

Numbers like this a bogus, both assuming that a university is the only place to learn computer science, and that the only source of computer programmers are people with computer science degrees. People come to computer science with a variety of degrees under the belt, elec. eng and mathematics being very common, but forensics and even a dietician I know went on to be good developers.

Not Interchangeable (3, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155188)

Where are these 100,000 jobs that Mr. Gates claims appear annually? In what branch(es) of "computer science?" Application development? Database administration? Desktop support? R&D? All of these could fall under the umbrella of "computer science," but they require totally different skills and training. Here's something to consider: if a company eliminates 100 engineers from application development and adds 100 network admin jobs (for example), that's 100 unemployed engineers and 100 admin openings competing for qualified applicants. The amount of training required in a "computer science" sub-field makes jumping from one field to another prohibitive for the employee. Especially given that no one wants to go from a senior job in one branch to an entry-level job in another. This creates a lot of inefficiency in the employment market. So it may be not that our schools are inferior; it may be instead the labor market is changing so fast that the labor pool can't keep up.

True MS Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155194)

MS visted a certain university several years ago.. A professor (and good friend of mine) asked them 'what can we teach our students to make them more employable by you?' He was told 'Not a thing'.

Sorry Bill, you shot yourself in the foot with this one.

Large costs, no security, short career, H1B (5, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155200)

Let's see..

1) Absolutely KILL yourself in college with 35 hours a week of homework for ONE Database class while your friends are spending about 12 hours a week for all homework in all classes.

2) Pay $50,000 over 4 years just like they do.

3) Graduate into a low-status job when it comes to dating (I get a LOT more action from my $500 massage therapy training than I ever did from my CS degree-- MT is a female dominated field- you can't turn around without finding three or four who want to hang out and do tradeoffs and go to conferances- and MT work is like working out 8 hours a day so they tend to be fit and they tend to also be very nice people because they deal with the public a lot-- the pay is crap of course).

4) Start with a reasonably high salary-- but after a few years, it becomes clear you need to leave the field and project lead or manage (that's me these days) if you ever want to make "real" money.

5) Be managed by people who absolutely HATE that they have to have you- they view you as a COST.

6) Never ever be understood by management (either overworked when you are stupid or underworked once you smarten up). They'll replace you in a heartbeat with crappy but cheaper labor. I.e. NO JOB SECURITY. How can you buy a bloody house when you might be unemployeed for 7 months without notice.

7) And then-- at 55-- no more work. I've known so many who were just pushed out of the field. And you need the insurance you see. (Hence also my shift into manager+tech skills).

Corporations spent the 90's and the early 00's repeatedly teaching us that they have no loyalty to us and that they are going to hire people making $10,000 to replace us.

Okay-- WE GET IT. We are leaving the field. Young pups are not entering the field in the first place. And now they complain? Screw them. I hope they have severe problems and end up having to pay $150 an hour for 5 or 6 years to get people to enter the field again.

The high-tech labor shortage debunked years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155210)

It's CS that's the problem (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155214)

The problem is that you don't really need a CS degree to do CS work. I started in a CS program and found out it was for people who wanted to work with theory. I switched to Penn State's IST degree. It covered a lot of the bases of technology work, from databases to software development to networking, and had enough electives that you could specialize in any one of those systems and had a strong emphasis on project management skills and teamwork.

You could basically make your own track and come out with a lot of experience and knowledge in a specific area, or come out with general knowledge of the IT world. What you don't get is a ton of comp sci theory. But you come out of it ready to get down to business.

And, interestingly, those who I've encountered that have CS degrees tend to write fairly heady code that is a lot more complex than necessary.

I've been through two major downturns (3, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155216)

First in the very early 1990s, I was laid off and wound up selling boots in an army/navy store for a couple of years while the market recovered. At the time I was in my early twenties, so I consider that a reasonable outcome given my experience level and professional abilities at the time. This last downturn, from 2000 onward, I've survived well enough an remained employed in the field.

And based upon those experiences I say that there's a damn good reason people are avoiding computer science and other technical fields. The job market for this skill-set is far too volatile. I know of many people with excellent skills who can't find work. One programmer friend, who is absolutely top notch, can't find work because he is over fifty; pure age discrimination.

University students aren't unable or unwilling to learn technical skills, instead they're making a good long term bet that training up for a skill in a volatile market might well leave them unable to pay-off the mortgage on a good home, pay for their children's college tuition, or any number of other basic middle class expectations.

I would not recommend this career to anyone who wanted to work in industry. For those who love the science in computer science, then get at Ph.D and conduct research as a faculty member at a university. Get tenure. Otherwise, you'll just get screwed.

Competitive? (1)

Tiger Smile (78220) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155228)

Compete. Start with educating people and allowing them to innovate. Remove restrictions that might prevent learning. People who love money will not compete. Those that love to compete will compete.

Remove software patents, and weaken software copyrights. Allow people a little room and they will stand on the shoulders of giants. Some have built condos there.

Punish companies that are anticompetitive. We need a strong nation not one where anticompetitive-ness as seen as a standard business tactic. If convicted of criminally anticompetitive acts the code involved in those products should be put in the public domain copyright & patents.

Well, that would be the extreme view, but if you want to compete you do have to be somewhat committed. One method is to prevent the impediments.


Yuo fai7 it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18155236)

There are some *BSD is dying Yet GNAA on sla;shdot,

keep America Competitive - don't off-shore jobs (1)

jerseyjim (312295) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155272)

Gates - and a major of major "American" corporations - deported IT jobs to off shore countries shortly after 911. My feeling is that Bush cut a deal with India to stop playing nuclear one-ups-manship with Pakistan because Bush needed Pakistan's help for his invasion plans. IT jobs flowed to India causing layoffs in the US... causing major IT publishers to down size and a few went out of business...and colleges saw their CS/IT programs decrease in fact an Ivy League University shut-down is IT certification programs that had been running for 15 years...and now Billy is saying, "where are the American programmers"...this is simply a PR tactic to justify sending work to India and other off shoring heavens and to bring them here to work at lower wages.

Translation from Bill-speak (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155320)

The USA (Microsoft) really (REALLY REALLY)needs all (EVERY SINGLE ONE) of the schools to buy more PCs (AND NOT MACS).

Self interest never lies (1)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155332)

Let me be the first to say that I am Shocked - Shocked! - to see Mr. Gates advocating the importing of low-cost labor in the very field where his company is a major employer.

In any case, claims of "labor shortages" should always be taken with a grain of salt - or two - when coming from prominent industry representatives.

Another way to keep us competitive... (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155344)

Besides improving education, here's another way to keep us competitive:

Stop inflating living standards beyond sustainable levels.

Especially where I am (NY Metro,) it's impossible to find an affordable house and work in a field where salaries aren't rising faster than inflation. A 50-year-old two-bedroom house on less than 1/4 acre of land is still going for $700,000+ in some areas around here. Everyone has to have the most expensive car, the most expensive clothes, the best vacations, etc. Most of them do this by borrowing way more than they can ever pay back on credit cards and home equity.

These same people then turn to employers demanding high salaries to fuel their lifestyle. Employers see a labor pool on the other side of the world much happier with 10% of these salaries, and rationally choose to go with them. Why is this a surprise?

The only long-term solution for this is to cut people off from credit. Make it incredibly expensive to borrow money, and teach people to live within their means again. Low-level secretaries and coordinators at companies shouldn't be driving a new Mercedes and wearing Prada shoes.

That ain't a bug, thats a feature... (1)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 6 years ago | (#18155360)

During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success and overall economic growth.

How does jumping jobs contribute to their "employer's success"? The whole point of an H1-B is, not only to get comparable labor for a deep discount over local labor, but to have leverage to squelch dissent. Don't like the Bataan Death March-style working hours? They yank your H1-B and send you right back to where you came from. With family back home relying on the money being sent back as well as the dangling promise of eventual permanent status/citizenship, the H1-B worker is trapped.

The actions of Gates and those like him in the industry chop away at the breeding ground for the next generation of CS/IT professionals. Farming out those bottom rung positions to save a buck is coming home to roost.
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