back to article A real shot in the Arm: 3% of global workforce surplus to requirements

Chip designer Arm has celebrated its upcoming TechCon 2018 San Jose shindig by showing 180 unlucky employees the door. After the layoffs were reported by its local paper, the Cambridge News, in England, the Softbank subsidiary confirmed to The Register that, yes, just over three per cent of the global workforce are surplus to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They should never have allowed ARM to be sold

    Now well it wont be long before there isn't any technology industry remaining in the UK

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They should never have allowed ARM to be sold

      "They" who? Its shareholders? Nasdaq? LSE?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: They should never have allowed ARM to be sold

      oh come on AC it's not all doom and gloom. INVENT SOMETHING!

      It's not a few hundred UK scientists and engineers now 'on the dole' because they were laid off from working on ARM stuff... it's now a few hundred UK scientists and engineers available to invent the next 'cool thing', invested in by some forward thinkers that realize what a bunch of UK scientists and engineers can accomplish!

      (you guys are at least as smart as us left-pondians, and you have British accents. If nothing else, it'll sound smarter when you explain stuff)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They should never have allowed ARM to be sold

        >oh come on AC it's not all doom and gloom. INVENT SOMETHING!

        The thinking is good if and even if may I say, bombastic. Yes, the UK has some of the best universities and scientists in the world. Where it differs in a major way from Silicon Valley is that the UK lacks serious investors. And those that are, prefer evidently to sell companies like ARM rather than invest in a startup.

      2. Tom Servo

        Re: They should never have allowed ARM to be sold

        This is a valid point, albeit a bit harsh for those out of a job and needing to pay the mortgage of a property in Cambridge.

        There's a theory that the great achievement of Kennedy's space program in the 60's was also because of the rapid expansion of NASA in the 60's that it created a swathe of highly trained engineers who then went out in the 70's/80's and "invented stuff".

  2. jake Silver badge

    Only 3%?

    I've found that 10% or more of any given workforce is utterly superfluous to the needs of most medium to large companies. Primarily in middle management. Look around you. How many people exist who do nothing but fiddle about with PowerPoint and attend meetings? Start by getting rid of them. And anybody who claims to "need" PowerPoint in order to do their job (provide a questionnaire before letting people know you're cutting personnel). Next on the block, any middle manager who does nothing but buffer another middle manager (or managers) from somebody higher in the management chain. I'll bet you a wooden nickle we're up to 8% or more already ...

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Only 3%?

      While I agree that an occasional decimation would be healthy for a business, the trick is for bosses to figure out WHICH 10% to get rid of! If anyone ever figures out that, they deserve to go down in the annals of greatest business minds of all time.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Only 3%?

      I would look at a company that enforces strict silos between groups within to have an extensive head count of useless PHBs in middle mismanagement. Ask the question: Can a peon assigned a task wander over to the originator of the task to discuss the requirements? If the answer is yes, then the company is probably relatively lean with very little fat. If the answer is no, then the company probably has many middle mismanagement PHBs jealously guarding their turf and plenty of weeds to eliminate.

      Uncle Bob Martin once in a YouTube talk noted that there is a difference between being 'Agile' and being agile. The key difference was whether you adopted a formalism called Agile or do you allow people to discuss problems and solutions in ad hoc groups as needed with these people being the people actually involved in executing the project.

    3. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Only 3%?

      Cyril Northcote Parkinson's "condensed version" of his Law "That work expands so to fill the time available for its completion" is famous, perhaps, less so is "bureaucracies expand over time" published in the 1950s.

      A personal thought is that the public service is unfairly maligned for having too many "who do nothing but fiddle about with PowerPoint and attend meetings" the truth is that all large organizations become infested with these people - Particularly when they are natural privately owned monopolies or oligopolies - Organizations that have been privatized to rentier capitalists could be good examples.

      I have noted that when a headcount reduction is applied, usually to increase bonuses for the C-Level and Boards, the PowerPoint/meeting crowd are often spared (Perhaps because they "look busy"?) whereas the essential customer-facing and technical staff are disproportionately hit. This can work well in times of employment stress, but fails when there are reasonable opportunities, as the staff who are keeping the business running leave for something better paid/less stressful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only 3%?

        >I have noted that when a headcount reduction is applied, usually to increase bonuses for the C-Level and Boards, the PowerPoint/meeting crowd are often spared (Perhaps because they "look busy"?) whereas the essential customer-facing and technical staff are disproportionately hit.

        That is only natural. After all middle management is closer to the decision makers than the customer-facing and technical staff. So the former is spared and the latter get the axe.

        I went through one of these exercises some time ago and the pattern was super clear. Spent too much time in your office to get things done? You were invisible to management and got the axe. I was informed my job was no longer required and "let go". That is until a few days later when they discovered an issue and I had to remain on job another month.

        The key to understanding then is that decision makers do not see the people. Instead they are fed "information" from middle management. And that is always skewed in order to preserve the same middle management.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Only 3%?

        A personal thought is that the public service is unfairly maligned for having too many "who do nothing but fiddle about with PowerPoint and attend meetings" the truth is that all large organizations become infested with these people - Particularly when they are natural privately owned monopolies

        Yes, however, those private companies are allowed to go bust. The public sector just continues ad finitum, with an ever larger paper trail. Given the impossibility of reforming most of it, Parkinsons Law makes clear that we should cap the lifetime of public sector departments and organisations, beginning again with a clean sheet of paper every, say 50 years.

        Looking at all the middle mamabegrs and administrators in the NHS, a reasonable back of the fag packet estimate would be that more than half the work done is meaningless paperwork rather than actual healthcare provision.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only 3%?

          "those private companies are allowed to go bust."

          What, like the failed and then bailed out casino banks did in 2007/2008 in the US and the UK?

          What, like the failed and then bailed out US automotive industry did in the US (the TARP program, in case you didn't spot it - details below)?

          "Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than have been lifted out by all other ideas combined. "

          Let's accept (for the moment) that statement is true in the historic sense. In which case, when are the UK and the US going to give it another go, rather than the crony capitalism, corporatism, whatever you wish to call it, which has run (and ruined) the country for the last few decades?

          In a capitalist economy, a failed company is allowed to fail (see above). A fair market is a fair market and is not a cartel or a monopoly. Globocorp status does not confer any advantages which are not also available to the SME sector (or smaller), or to state owned entities (e.g. former utilities, etc).

          You're not just a lucrelout, you're an ignorant lucrelout. Get a clue or STFU (no offence mate, I just like the sound of the rhyme).

          TARP:

          "When President Obama took office, America’s automobile industry was on the brink of collapse. The financial crisis had nearly frozen access to credit for vehicle loans and sales had plunged by 40 percent. Faced with that sober reality, the Obama Administration moved quickly to protect the broader economy by stabilizing the industry. These actions saved more than one million American jobs, according to independent estimates.

          On December 19, 2014, Treasury announced that it had sold its remaining 54.9 million shares of Ally Financial Inc. (Ally) common stock, exiting the last Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) equity investment under the Auto Industry Financing Program.

          The automobile industry is now profitable and creating jobs at the fastest pace in 15 years. In fact, since June 2009, when GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, more than 500,000 jobs have been created."

          (source: https://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/TARP-Programs/automotive-programs/pages/default.aspx)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only 3%?

      Arm has a *lot* of extra middle management, and a massive project management structure to report back to management on which features aren't go to make it into the next release.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    So, did anyone believe them two years ago?

    Softbank promises stronger ARM: Greater overseas reach and double the UK jobs

    The Japan giant has committed to “at least” a doubling of ARM’s existing UK workforce, in addition to continued investment in the country, in addition to overseas expansion over the next five years.

    ARM’s UK headcount, mostly centred in Cambridge, numbers around 3,000.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, did anyone believe them two years ago?

      Yes, exactly the story I was reminded of!

      Dear El Reg, please update us regulalrly on how Softbank are doing wrt this “promise”. And also any of the other shite that may have been spouted at the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, did anyone believe them two years ago?

        Do you think that maybe people just don't want to work in Cambridge/the UK?

  4. EveryTime

    There was a department store owner that famously said "Half of my advertising dollars are wasted. The problem is that I can't figure which half."

    The same is true of middle managers. There are some that look as if they aren't doing much, putting in only 9-5 work. But they have key experience in how thing work, and how things are run. Others are involved in every decision, but it's really that they are constantly making sure that everyone thinks that they are important.

    If you get rid of those with deep experience, the company might never realize what they have lost. Or why they end up with systems that grow complex patches instead of simple fixes and improvements.

  5. Barry Rueger

    "Common" sense?

    Lord save me from peons who think they're managers. Or even middle-managers. Staffing a large organization is complex, and the folks at the bottom seldom understand what those above them do.

    Has it not occurred to all the clever folks here that it is "middle-managers with PowerPoint" that collect data that is subsequently used by the CEO to make decisions? That it is the manager class that makes sure that the electric bills are paid and salaries appear in bank accounts?

    There's deadwood at every level of an organization, but I'd much rather have someone that understands the Big Picture making important decisions than a coder with no other knowledge or experience.

    1. Why Not?

      Re: "Common" sense?

      the old comment that organisations are like human pyramids ,when those that look up can only see arseholes and those that look down only see smiley faces is quite telling.

      When I look up I want to see managers looking if I am all right. That way I work with fewer arseholes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Common" sense?

      Barry Rueger,

      You are just as guilty as the 'Peons' of not understanding the 'Real' full picture.

      Organisations need 'Middle/Senior Managers' and 'Peons/Coders' BUT if everyone is doing their job properly ..... there is no need for the coders to have to worry about the 'Bigger picture' because that should not be their immediate concern & equally the 'Middle/Senior Managers should not have to be worrying about what the 'Peons/Coders' are doing as it is too low level and Technical for them to need to get involved in, IF they have the right people in place and the trust to allow them to do their jobs.

      The problem is that there tends to be too much 'Office Politics'/'Empire building' that interferes with the 'Real work' that should be done and 'fingers in pies' that belong to people without the knowledge/skills to make effective management decisions.

      The 'lack of knowledge/understanding' problem works both up and down the organisation structure !!!

      Consider all the IT projects that fail for one reason or another, do you really believe that is *only* because of issues with the Techies/Coders/Peons at the bottom ???!!!

      Finally, I can only go along with your 'Lord save me from peons who think they're managers.' statement IF the set also includes those who are *already* performing the role *badly* as well. !!!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Common" sense?

      @Barry Ruegar and his "Big Picture"

      Your PowerPoint data collection i.e. formatting company stats so that the CEO can understand them doesn't say much about the CEO intelligence.

      Everyone has to pay their electric bill and arrange for salary to appear in bank accounts, it doesn't take genius level intelligence.

      "There's deadwood at every level of an organization" and yet the wages/influence also increase as you go up the structure suggesting that the deadwood higher up is more of a problem than a "grunt" sweeping the floors for a pittance who no one listens to.

      I have met many high level specialists who were recruited directly into management and never got their "hands dirty" using their specialist ability who, like you, do not understand the reality that the people who actual make the product to support all the leeches "above" them are the ones that are hardest to replace.

      The UK came to believe in your BS so much that they got rid of manufactoring and moved over to services only, i.e. companies that produce hot air only and now look at us, the typical outcome of bad managements belief that they are indispensable when in reality they are but a drain on resources, i.e. bankrupcy.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why cant we have nice things

    PM May, this is on your head!

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/softbank-arm-takeover-theresa-may-tory-policy-segars-hammond-a7142556.html

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By the way, at Arm it's not "HR", it's "The People Team". Yes, seriously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sirius Cybernetics Corporation

      "The People Team"? that sounds like people who read Hitchikers Guide and didnt get the joke, then again it has also been said that HR have no sense of humour, coincidence I think not.

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