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back to article Attention, CIOs: Stop outsourcing or YOU will never retire

Walk down the hall. Look into the IT room. How old are the people in there? How are they getting on? Or are they just getting on? Would you trust them to keep the server lights on in a couple of years? Is there anybody actually in there at all? If there isn’t, your company may be part of the problem that’s keeping John Harris …

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Full time?

Why do people go full time? Half the money of the contractors surrounding them and zero training.

Companies idea of training is never what the employee wants. The employee wants industry recognised, the employer wants something that gets the employee the basics but not enough to call themself trained and go contracting.

hell, employeers dont even WANT full time staff, they want to be able to get rid of a person tomorrow, not in 6 months time after a legal battle they will loose.

Outsource projects have never worked and only every provide work for those whose job it is to shift the estate to a different providor when the shit hits the fan.

Employeers know this, but its less pain to have a shitty IT infrastucture than it is to have 20 court battles on the go

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Full time?

I'm full time because I'm not so fussed about the money and prefer the social side but I am considering going back to contracting in part because of the lack of training.

But I wouldn't necessarily agree that what people want is industry recognised qualifications - there are always people who do but personally I just want to know how to do things. One of the great problems with training course is that they often focus solely on getting people through the exams - to the point of including information that is not actually true but is what one is expected to know.

If someone won't employ me because I've never bothered acquiring the qualifications then that's fine - it's probably best for both of us that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Full time?

"Outsource projects have never worked" Rubbish. The problem is that a working outsource project is not news, a failing one is. You have to have understanding and management skills in the company doing the outsourcing as well as the provider of services, if you do - and you don't go for the cheapest option - the chances are that your project will be ok.

It's very much like the "All BMW drivers are idiots", they're not, you only remember the ones who are a meter away from you doing 80 on the motorway, not the ones who drive in a non-memorable manner.

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Facepalm

Re: Full time?

"Outsource projects have never worked"

Citation needed.

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Re: Full time?

NHS national DB

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@AC 11:41

I'm sure there have been successful outsourcing projects. I can't think of many that involve critical IT activities that have been running for longer than a couple of years. If you're an SME whose web site is marketing brochureware, by all means outsource its running. But if you outsource crucial elements of your business, you're in for a pretty torrid time when renewal comes up.

Many outsourcing projects are undertaken because internal IT is out of control, to which my response is: if you can't manage your own staff, what on earth makes you think you can manage those belonging to a third party organisation that does not have your business's interests at heart.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Full time?

"I'm full time because I'm not so fussed about the money and prefer the social side but I am considering going back to contracting in part because of the lack of training."

Don't wait for your employer to train you, do it yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Full time?

"Citation needed."

Where do we stop?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Full time?

There's huge parts of it working really well.

What went wrong with the rest is cheap prices and scope creep. Governments keep picking the lowest quotes and changing their mind.

You can't really compare a private company outsourcing normal business functions and services to a government organisation outsourcing *development* work to a contractor.

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Anonymous Coward

This is due to the industry’s woeful inability to convince young people that working with the insides of computers can be a satisfying, even well-paid, career

That's because it isn't a well paid career. Spoke to a friend in the USA, similar experience / skills / position to me. His wage? Almost double mine.

Average starting wage in the UK. 26k (I hate being in a holiday town.. . City prices for countryside wages... stupid 20k wage)

Average wage in USA is apparently $86,000 (the friend I spoke about was on something like 56k)

Getting less than half the wage to do the exact same work. Even worse, I went to london, heard somebody asking about getting work... shop assistants get paid more than some graduate developers.

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Anonymous Coward

Well i'm currently on £600 a day doing very little. You must be in the wrong market segment....

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Agree that money is part of the problem.

When I started in IT in 2000 the typical salary for your 1st line desktop support monkey (outside London) was about 13k. It's now about 16k. That's a 15% rise in salary in 10 years when living costs have doubled and house prices have quadrupled. Yes, you earn more as you learn more but you don't earn THAT much more in desktop support. Your skills have been scrapped and your job outsourced to India. Never mind that they don't do it well, they do it cheaper and that's all that matters to the Board. And if the Board need that specialist skill, they'll get a contractor in for 6 months.

I wouldn't encourage anyone to go in to IT, knowing what the job is like now. Poor salary, no respect from the rest of the company (because if it's computers, it can't be hard, right?), no training, no career progression (because how many people make it out of IT in to management?) and no job security.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Agree that money is part of the problem.

House prices have gone up by about 20% since 2000 (if my house in a desireable commuter belt to London area) is anything to go by. Most of the extra value on my house is my DIY.

I couldn't tell you what the cost of living has gone up by, but I suspect it's similar, which means there is a 5% discrepancy, rather less than double or quadruple.

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Re: Agree that money is part of the problem.

If only there had been just a 15% rise in the cost of living. Based upon CPI alone it's a 36% increase. CPI is a poor reflection of the cost of living.

This useful PDF helps to outline some of the cost rises over the last decade:

http://www.tullettprebon.com/Announcements/strategyinsights/notes/2010/SIN20130220.pdf

Some examples from page 3 and 4:

Vehicle tax and insurance: 108% rise since 2002

Power and light: 142% rise since 2002

Home insurance: 59% rise since 2002

Food: 43% rise since 2002

As for house prices, the BBC news link below gives a 10-year rise (1998-2008) from around £70,000 to around £170,000.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7712590.stm

And as someone who was, from 2004 until Sep 2011, chasing the housing market trying to buy, I can tell you that house prices have not risen by 20% in that time.

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Well i'm currently on £600 a day doing very little

Whilst I suspect that many can boast about their daily rates, they are all largely meaningless without information on assignment duration and utilisation.

By the way, you may want to brush up your negotiation skills, my standard day rate is plus expenses...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well i'm currently on £600 a day doing very little

6 months contract, likely 18 months run. Outside of M25. Not going to go into skillset, but lets just say i'm not kept very busy here...Mine is not plus expenses. As I only pay 10% total tax via a registered tax avoidance scheme, I don't have the option to deduct anything anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Well said

Not in UK, but I started my IT career in France, in the early 90s.

Back then it was made very very clear that being a developer after a 3-5 years was a sure sign of LOSER and unable to progress in your career.

You had to:

- become a manager

- becomes a salesman

- become an IT architect

Developer salaries reflected those priorities.

Now, I like working with computers to code, debug and even admin. I would even do it for less pay, but that's not necessary and being a undervalued is both annoying and a red flag.

None of the fields above hold any great attraction to me (too many useless architects encountered for #3).

But most clever products, websites or inhouse programs require at least a small cadre of highly skilled devs and that takes education, and years of experience, drive and just plain old curiosity to achieve.

How the heck do you attract clever folks if you make it very clear a given field is a dead end?

Canada and USA salaries are quite comfortable, for higher end programmers. I was flabbergasted when I saw the pay differences with France back then (things may have changed, dunno).

And, yes, we gotta compete with India, but... that's life, suck it up.

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As a starting graduate I feel that £26k is a decent starting wage, considering the difficulties that I would have in getting a starting job in the USA, as I don't have the requisite experience for a visa. I also think that £26k is not correct. I am currently job hunting before I finish uni this year, and most of the positions I am looking at as a junior network/systems administrator are more like £22k average.

And I can confirm that the university course I have been on has taught me very little. I now know a bit about C, have learned and forgotten a bit about Java (useless flawed lump that it is), a fair bit about the very basics of networking, and a bit about configuring routers and switches using the CLI. I have not been taught, however, anything at all about almost any system or network administration task that you could mention, like how to properly make a backup plan or what backplane speed is, or how to configure a VoIP phone, or how PoE works, or how to configure any server other than apache or IIS (or the very basics of this is how you follow the Active Directory wizard). I have essentially spent about £13,000 (in tuition fees alone) paying a university to give me somewhere warm to be bored, not to mention the cost of feeding myself or having somewhere to live.

I know the stuff I have learned is good grounding and may be useful, but most of the topics I have found out about through internet research have not been taught at university and likely won't be until years from now.

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Stop

"Average starting wage in the UK. 26k (I hate being in a holiday town.. . City prices for countryside wages... stupid 20k wage)"

Yeah it's an insult isn't it? And it doesn't rise that much with experience. In the US it's comparatively easy to hit six figures as a software developer. Australia too. UK? Hell no. I'm seeing jobs come up all the time that want multiple years experience and they're offering less (inflation adjusted) cash than I earned as a graduate in 2000.

UK industry has it so wrong. A combination of outsourcing and low pay is why there's a skills shortage. Low pay is why you can't find that tech guy you need to fill that job, you know, the one you said needed 4 years enterprise Java for 25K. Not to mention the ludicrous focus on domain experience, any decent programmer or IT guy can pick up new domain knowledge in a few hours.

"Need someone with 10 years of Linux-on-ARM device driver development, will pay up to 30K for the right candidate, no timewasters"

Yeah, good luck with that!

(As a contractor I must admit I find the whole skills shortage idea really quite exciting...)

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Facepalm

Getting your foot in the door is the hard part.

Business have always been looking for a shortcut to get quality staff without going to the trouble of training people. Why bother training people if you can head-hunt the finished product from a competitor, or worse than that, watch your investment walk out the door when a competitor head-hunts your staff.

Sadly, this leads to the bizzare situation I found myself in where all the recently qualified were chasing the few entry-level roles available, while employers were struggling to fill roles requiring just a couple of years of industry experience. The job seekers went where the work was, be it another location or business sector, then the employers had to entice them back.

Perhaps if more employers offered students meaningful opportunities during study through sandwich courses, tomorrow's graduates would have a better understanding of the real world?

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Re: Getting your foot in the door is the hard part.

Agreed - but much of the blame lies in Schools, Colleges and Universities.. They need to explain and teach what current requirements are, then the individual needs to have drive and commitment to learn it.

I have people applying for a basic level IT role, many quote their experience as "building their own PC".. Well Sonny, guess what.. a 12 year old could do that these days.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect an applicant to be certified up to the eyeballs, understand Layer 3 routing or VPNs etc... But I do expect them to at least have an idea of what technology is, such as Virtualisation etc.

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Trollface

Re: Getting your foot in the door is the hard part.

lol guess the students have a day off and reading El Reg... now go learn something that actually matters, and I may give you a job!

Down vote if you think I'm right!

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Anonymous Coward

No brainer

Why would anyone in the UK go into IT when they hear how much money people can make in banking/finance?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No brainer

I don't want to work with a lot of bankers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No brainer

Rephrase to "why would anyone in IT want to work in the UK?" ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No brainer

Because IT also pays well in banking and finance? e.g. VP in IT in an investment bank - circa £100-£150K + circa 50%.

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@AC11:27 (was: Re: No brainer)

The collective noun for "bankers" is "wunch", not "lot".

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FAIL

Here's the solution to UK IT

If you want people to go into IT, solution is simple - PAY THEM A DECENT WAGE!!!!

The majority of people will not do a job JUST because it is interesting. If you want to attract the best into your company/industry then you have to pay them top dollar. If you're not willing to do that, then please continue outsourcing now, and prepare to be screwed in the future...

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UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

TBH this isn't so much because of outsourcing, which had an effect, but far more damaging was the Intra Company Transfer tax scam, these took jobs directly out of the UK job market.

I contracted for 18 years in the UK and saw the market killed in 5 years by the wholesale importation of cheap labour, I was out of work for 6 months in 2009 and the Jobcentre was full of guys with 10-15 years experience, you could hear them at the next table signing on describing how their company had brought in cheap non EEC staff who they had to hand their jobs over to, has been happening a lot and I had a number of contracts at UK sites where the majority of the IT staff were non UK labour brought in on ICT

http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/inside-outsourcing/2011/03/offshore-it-workers-in-the.html

I've got a perm job in Northern Europe now there are lots of experienced UK IT workers here, and I still get calls from agents desperate to find UK staff, but for the wages UK companies want to offer it's not worth the hassle, and I don't trust UK companies as far as I can throw them, they have the cheap young clueless foreign workforce they want now who they can bully to finish projects with threats of being sent home (saw one young team lead hospitalize himself staying up a full UK day, then on the phone till 3-4am to India every night trying to get his project working) they should sit back and enjoy their extreme cleverness, every time I read about another failed UK government IT project or screw up at a bank I just give thanks I don't have to deal with that kind of rubbish anymore.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Correct, seen this done wholesale in banks, port authorities, you name it. Whole squads of "indentured IT labourers" or, let's be honest, modern slaves, brough in by abusing Inter Company Transfers. Sooner or later there will be some kind of tragedy, like substandard overcrowded gangmaster-provided housing going up in flames, then it will really hit the fan.

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Holmes

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

"they should sit back and enjoy their extreme cleverness" - couldn't agree more. They've brought it on themselves, then they whine about it and blame everyone else. The industry needs to pay people a realistic wage and needs to have realistic hiring policies. I'm not about to march down the UKIP "blame the immigrants" route - it's not the fault of people who are transferred in that they're transferred in. It is very much the fault of the companies who do that transferring. They have crapped down the necks of UK IT people and now that the decent ones have abandoned ship the companies are crying like toddlers who have wet themselves complaining that it's wet. It's pathetic that the companies who make up the forum who produced this report are the very companies who are complaining about the "lack of skills", while still shafting their employees by outsourcing and transferring in, even to this day. For what it's worth, there is no lack of skills. If you are willing to pay, there are skills. What there is, is a lack of willingness to pay the money that skills cost. Our collective response should be "well screw you, you don't pay, you don't get"

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Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

The problem is that cheap overseas contractors are being brought in too late in the project.

If we have a generation of youngsters un-interested in computer science, as the falling A-Level results suggest, then we should outsource them.

In today's highly dynamic, cloud, mobile parenting environment 0 having permanent children on the payroll for 18years or so just doesn't offer the sort of flexibility that modern parental managers demand.

We should follow the role model of people like Madonna + that actress with the tits and the lips, and outsource the children. Many SE asian economies can supply well qualified suitably cute children at a fraction of UK rates.

Unfortunately government regulation and red tape has limited the international transfer market in this sector but we are sure people like the current leadership can look back to the example shown by their C18 ancestors and Britain will once more be a leader in the global human cargo supply business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

"I contracted for 18 years in the UK and saw the market killed in 5 years by the wholesale importation of cheap labour" - I do my best to work against this - as does pretty much everyone else I know. All CVs are thoroughly 'WASP' checked before we will even interview candidates, or pass on CVs. Any hint of foreign / non indigenous British = straight in the bin.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Ahh the race card, so predictable, so non "indiginous" Brits have only been in the UK for the last 5 years have they? and absolutely none of them have lost work or jobs due to ICT?

The exploitation of imported workers, some paid less than the minimum wage, in companies using ICT and the loss of jobs to British IT workers of all races, creeds and colours is perfectly fine then so long as large multinationals can reap massive profits at their expense?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Look, it doesn't matter how long they have been here - it is their culture and that goes with it. Jesus was allegedly born in a stable - but that didn't make him a horse. I think 'WASP' makes it quite clear what non indigenous (nb - not "indiginous") means here....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Doesn't alter the fact you are trying to take the wholesale destruction of an employment sector for people actually living in Britain (whatever their race) by large Companies for profit, and trying to make out anyone objecting to this is some kind of lunatic BNP racist .

This is the fallback position of any corporate droid wanting to protect his little tax scam and bonus for "cost savings"

By the way I am not a WASP!

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Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

AC @Thursday 14th March 2013 11:31 GMT

That's exactly what I was going to say. The difference in my case was that I left the UK in 2001 after many months out of work. Despite the post Y2K slump (everyone had all new gear before Y2K) and telcos/networking companies making thousands of people redundant, the government started to bring in people from India to solve "the shortage of skilled people in the IT sector". I went to Germany and stayed.

I still get emails from UK recruitment agencies, offering me daily rates which are about half that which I received in the UK in the 1990s and more importantly, considerably less than I make now in Germany.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Not at all. I'm trying to say its an entirely reasonable, sensible and very common way of fighting back against what is effectively a foreign invasion force that is taking local jobs and driving pay down. Have you tried advertising for an IT job lately? 90% of applicants could be straight out of the HSMP....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

"By the way I am not a WASP!" - never mind - you would probably fit right into the cleaning or catering teams...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

I'm white romanao/celtic pagan, and I wish those immigrant Anglo Saxons would stop taking our jobs and go home taking that weird god of there's nailed to a lump of wood with them

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Just wait - a few years time and it will be the Islamic militia denying you access to the Sharia law controlled parts....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Not to worry, we have the legions and bladed wheel chariots on standby, when they see the line of crucifixions down Watling street, and the our collection of severed heads outside our huts they will swim the channel to escape their fate otherwise they will provide entertainment in the arenas ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK Companies are getting exactly what they desrerve

Yes, that sort of medieval stuff will fit right in with the Islamic culture....I'm sure they will appreciate anything appropriately barbaric, although of course they draw the line at really unpleasant stuff like drawing pictures. They will lynch you for that sort of thing....

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Facepalm

Quality versus Quantity

Is it more the quality of what is taught in the academic route?

Is it the quantity of renumeration for a job (supposedly well done)...

Is it just that some in these roles dont care, if they cant see it there? -- lacking quality

I've at times read more in a book or online, or even seen on youtube... than whats probably been taught in academia!

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Re: Quality versus Quantity

>s it more the quality of what is taught in the academic route?

The good places teach "computer science", the graduates wonder why they aren't earning the same as all the people who did other technical degrees (never mind the ones that did PPE or law)

The employers want to know why their new Oxbridge First doesn't know the install procedure for Exchange-Server 2013 off by heart - and blame the universities.

The crap universities who are "sympathetic to the needs of industry" churn out people who can just about manage to click on the right button in whatever Microsoft where pushing that year.

The employers complain that they aren't able to independently master new skills on their own - and blame the universities.

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Anonymous Coward

Oak ceilings and dead ends

" the current cohort of IT bosses are kept in harness until they drop"

Well they also choose to stay in harness.

There's a real problem with career progression in IT in the UK. You do not have to go very far before the next step up the ladder, if there is one at all, means abandoning some or all of the technical work you (one hopes) enjoy and are suited to.

So there's an accumulation of managers who are either not particularly IT literate or not particularly suited to management and this creates a barrier between IT and the business.

There are some enlightened places where it skills are rewarded without requiring a move to management and even some where good skilled workers are paid more than the people who manage them (as ought to happen when staff management skills are easier to come by than some of the technical specialities) but it's not the norm.

The Civil Service (as of ten years ago when I worked there) treats IT as a blue collar activity (with time-and-a-half on Saturday and double time on a Sunday so guess when all the out-of-hours work happens) and there's no route up the tree, never mind a way of being involved in guiding the business.

My current private sector employer treats it strategically but only involves anyone with any actual IT skills once all decisions have been made, with marketing more likely to have an input into new work. There's a huge gap between the people (reading the Register instead of) working on the various command lines and management such that it is inconceivable that anyone in IT with IT skills could ever become head of IT.

If there was a recognition that businesses would do better to have IT skills all the way up (and across) the organisational tree then the recruitment and management of IT staff would improve, as would the career prospects and it would been seen as less of a dead-end career for geeks and freaks.

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Re: Oak ceilings and dead ends

I almost jumped out of my chair, pointed at my screen and shouted "YES, EXACTLY" when I read your post.

Next step up for me would be management. In fact I technically am management because that was the only way they could give me a pay rise, but I don't do any of it. I don't want to manage people, I have literally no interest in it, all I want is for you to pay me more to do the things I'm good at. I'm far happier coding or firefighting problems than I am managing people, I couldn't think of many things that interest me less to be honest.

Which, like you say, means that where I work it's relatively easy to get yourself promoted to management - in fact not being IT literate is actually rather helpful because if it turns out you're not capable of doing anything useful it's a no brainer to ask you to manage people instead! Ridiculous system. People interested in remaining technical should be encouraged to do so, paid commensurately and sent on whatever training courses they want within reason - these are the useful people who are contributing to the bottom line, not the smarmy hot air shifter in the smart suit.

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