@ Contractors Over Paid
I left my last job (at a Dutch bank) under excellent terms, and that wasn't due to my work being unnecessary - my budget had simply been slashed, and my manager had been told to cut his. Three days after I left, the bank rang me up to tell me they wanted me back. It would seem that in my absence, they discovered how much my work was REALLY missed. Even though I am still waiting for the paperwork to be sorted out, I've been told the green light has ultimately been given by the right people, so I'm enjoying a well-deserved break at the moment.
What's my point? It's this: Contractors are employed to fill a real business need. Permies are not. When the proverbial hits the fan, it will be contractors that sort out the mess, while permies just complain (yet again) how little they are paid - while failing to make the connection between ability and reward. While the contractors go off and train themselves, get certified, improve their knowledge to the point where they're indispensable, the permies are still whining in the tea room - and wondering why management doesn't take them more seriously.
BT, as are a great many other businesses, run by the money men. They are not run by people who understand the business, or by people who understand (at a managerial level) what the consequences of firing people will have on their projects. Many of them, I would wager, do not even understand the importance of their own projects succeeding. By the time the dimwits at Mondial House realise that letting Virgin steal the market in high-speed broadband is a suicidal idea, it will be too late. Nobody will be using BT's lines, except for the odd OAP who won't really care about broadband because (s)he's still meeting their friends the old-fashioned way: Face to face. At that stage, BT will have almost zero cashflow, and will be completely unable to invest in their network to compete with Virgin. I can't say I feel sorry for them, mind you - BT have spent years shafting the customer - it's about time they got their come-uppance.
I've seen a lot of businesses fall for the outsourcing hype, too. It actually costs a LOT more than hiring some really skilled people as permies and paying them a REAL salary (100k), and having them run your business infrastructure. The average Indian is about 1/200th as effective as someone who speaks your language natively (in both human and networking terms), knows your business needs, lives in your timezone, and - most importantly - sits where you can find them. Many Indians I've had to deal with simply do not answer their e-mail, do not answer their phone or voicemail, and do not action their items until they are sometimes months (!) overdue. Quite frankly, I'm still amazed that people hire them, but that just shows how clueless your average CEO is these days - and how much the "bonus for cost cutting" culture really harms business.
One recent example from JobServe: I spotted a two-day contract for the BBC, requiring Solaris and Veritas Volume Manager skills. I didn't take it, because I wasn't available on such short notice (poor Auntie needed someone there the next day.) It seems that the BBC no longer keep their own in-house admins (or at least, their own admins are clueless), because there had been a big failure with this machine - and they were willing to pay a grand a day for someone external to come in and fix it *quickly*. What does that tell you about the BBC? It tells me they'd better tell Jonathan Ross to brush up on his UNIX skills - since they are loathe to get rid of him, no matter what he does, he may as well be doing something useful...