back to article IT workers grumble about lack of career path

IT workers feel frustrated by the lack of career development opportunities on offer, a new survey has found. More than half (54 per cent) of the 693 IT employees and contractors in the UK surveyed by recruitment agency Hays expressed dissatisfaction with their career path. Unsurprisingly, their response was markedly different …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lack of choice more than anything

    where i am, it's a lack of *technical* career development opportunities that is the problem. Pretty much the only way to go is into management if you want to progress. All of the specialist technical roles are contracted in, rather than being an available career path.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    What would you expect?

    IT workers are working in a SERVICE job, just like the janitors & security guards. It's fundamental to the fact that in 99% of businesses, the business of the business is making or selling something, and the computers & networking are there to make the workers more efficient.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Career path?

    What the hell is one of those? In my last job there was NO career path: There was my job, answering to my boss and that was it. If you wanted to progress then the career path led through the front door because the only way to get anywhere was to get another job.

    To be fair a lot of it is down to the skills. A .NET programmer can be a junior programmer and a senior programmer and then what? Team leader? Program Manager? For a talented programmer the idea of becoming management is not a career move you really want to consider.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    "According to Hays, 65 per cent of permanent IT workers were satisfied with their packages."

    According to my spam folder, there are pills you can take for that.

  5. David 9

    @Anonymous Coward "What would you expect?" - Really?

    Obviously there are SERVICE jobs, but part of my job is developing things that make the business work smarter to enhance our competitive advantage.

    To say that 99% of IT jobs are service, is just complete crap.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Flat Org Structure = No Opportunity

    I can sympathize. You get a job at age 22 and you're sitting in a cubicle writing code. 20 years later and you're still sitting in a cube writing code. The lack of a lot of vertical structure in most IT companies or departments is great for reducing the BS but sucks for career progression. The only real promotion opportunities that exist are mostly technical in nature (i.e. you go from being responsible for your own code to being responsible for your code and a few other people's too, but you're still sitting in that same cubicle writing code all day no matter how many times your job title changes).

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes its not the path - it's the direction

    I work for EDS, now an HP company, and we have a fabulously well laid path full of opportunities and with a very clear direction

    Over the last year we have had the opportunity to be sold to a company making billions of pounds of profits every year, as a result of which we have benefited from the chance to learn how they do this - by squeezing every last drop out of employees, overworking them and exercising a disregard to our service. It's certainly been an eye opener and a learning moment

    We've had the challenge of exactly how to migrate our jobs to the lowest skilled workers the company could find in India and the opportunity to take on more work as our colleagues are "reduced". We're halfway through this exciting period with many more chances to increase productivity by lowering staff overheads and streamlining for success, our bosses remain committed to the excellence of service our customers demand and are managing to achieve this by blue sky planning even in the middle of a deluge

    We are all in awe of our new masters skills which border on the paranormal, able as they are to take client satisfaction reports and turn them into good news; it's like watching someone turn water into wine

    My company do indeed wish to retain my talents and have a clearly laid out plan for doing so, they want us to write our skills down. It's bound to work

    Once we've done this we will also be reduced and be given benefits, quite literally

    I can see where my own career path is heading quite easily, not liking the direction is another matter I guess, my only hope is that customer satisfaction will continue on in the same trend and I’ll be able to join another company as they pick up HP's business

    Gotta go – I’ve got another “HP Ethical Moments” video to watch from head office – oh the joy, I’m so happy I could keeeeel you

  8. Anonymous Coward

    ...because they have no social skills

    You're a programmer. Your career path is Senior Programmer. Your company might dress it up as 'Developer'. You follow the stereotype. Companies do not promote people who's Dockers ride above the ankle, they don't have the social skills to interact with humans. Accept it. The money's not bad.

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge


    Let's face it. IT isn't what it used to be. Gone are the vast teams of in-house programmers, coughing up bespoke applications on bizarre hardware using obscure packages and these odd, non-windows operating systems that had command lines and green screens.

    Now we have little PCs on desks, big PCs in the back office and honkin' HUGE PCs that we call servers. Even the mainframes use the same chips and languages these days. With all this generic computing power, differentiated only by the badge on the front and which foreign call centre you phone when you need someone to ask "have you tried rebooting?" after 20 minutes on hold - there are very few niches, specialisations or super-wizard-gurus required. The applications are all shrink-wrapped, configured through software wizards (oooh, maybe there are wizards, after all) from point-and-click screens that a 6 year-old would get right half the time (about the average for an IT pro', too) just from random selections.

    So far as career progression goes, we're strictly in the realm of generic systems, commodity hardware, shrinkwrapped software and IT people, working for interchangable companies, who's only differentiator is their height. Under these circumstances what, exactly, is there to progress into? Or from? Yes you get the occasional pay-rise as a reward for putting up with the same grumpy boss (who also is stuck in a job with no career, orprogression) for years longer than anyone expected - but that's about the lot. Since you're doing the same job after 5 years as you were on day #1, what reason is there to increase a person's pay, if the value they produce hasn't changed?

    We'd better get used to the idea that IT has become a stagnant industry, the more standardisation we get the less scope there is to be different, or better than anyone else and the fewer the opportunities for advancement. Get used to the idea and start counting down the days until you can retire.

  10. raving angry loony

    management vs employees

    Note that it article seems to imply that the employees were talking about career path and long term planning whereas the managers were talking about compensation packages in the here-and-now with no regard whatsoever for career paths. Which is pretty typical, since most managers I've met can't plan more than 3 to 6 months in advance and wouldn't know a technical career path if it bit them on the arse.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Re:Sometimes its not the path - it's the direction

    Your skills and experience are needed over here. Please apply for a position at

  12. Bassey

    Be interested to know what they had in mind by "Career Development"

    The only career development I've ever been aware of was to go from being in a technical role to being a people manager with the odd bit of technical work thrown in to stop you getting bored. And, having seen how god awful most technical specialists are at people management (the classic case of being promoted out of anything you are good at until you find something you can't do and get stuck there) I've turned down every attempt by my company to "promote" me into management.

    I don't need it. I get those sorts of kicks outside of work by being a parent and a mountain rescue team leader. In the office, I'll stick to doing what (I hope) I'm good at. I don't need the hypocrisy of spending years complaining about how crap my bosses are only to become a crap boss just for a few extra grand a year. And I'm happy to admit I would be a truly terrible manager.

  13. IndianaJ


    Progression = new job. Climbing the ladder by company hopping. It sucks, but it's the only way. Even then, progression is a very loose term as it can ends up as a step backwards anyway. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  14. Sir Adam-All


    Jesus christ.

    You bunch of miserable depressed barstards !!!!!!!

    People will always need *quality* IT Staff.

    Run for the hills... the end is nigh !!!!!!!!!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Good Techies make Bad managers

    Well that is I've experienced.

    What is worse, Bad Techies make even worse Managers.

    I am a techie and proud of it. I know that I don't have the skills to be a Manager. Yet in my last permie role, I was marked down in my Annual Rating because I didn't want to become a manager.

    Now I run my own company (with me as the only employee) so yes I am a Manager but I only have to manage myself and I'm happy with that.

  16. Pete 2 Silver badge

    @Sometimes its not the path - it's the direction

    " ... I work for EDS, now an HP company, ....

    Over the last year we have had the opportunity to be sold to a company making billions of pounds of profits every year, as a result of which we have benefited from the chance to learn how they do this - ..."

    Erm, HP - they're not a computer company (or a test equipmentr company, either) any more - they're a printer company. I was told that all their profits came from selling inkjet cartridges. Nothing more complicated than Old Man Wilkinson's observation: "give away the razor - make your money on the blades", over 100 years ago

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social Retards Don't Get Promoted

    Part of the problem is that the only people getting promotions (real promotions for real money with one or more direct reports working under you) are on the business side of IT. So, the promotions go to the Project Managers and Business Analysts and their like. If you're on the technical side of IT then you better get use to that cubicle and get use to working for managers that have never written a line of code, maintained a network, or administered a database.

    It also doesn't help that the majority of employees on the technical side of IT are socially retarded, cannot or will not play office politics (a necessary skill for the ambitious), don't know how to buy and wear clothes that won't make them a punch-line, and can't figure out how to "put their business hat on" and effectively communicate with non-IT decision makers.

    Unfortunately for most geeks, their ability to drone on about the capitalistic evils of Microsoft, the superiority of Mozilla, and the latest MMORPG doesn't qualify them for a promotion.

    I'm a programmer and, frankly, I cannot stand to be around most of my peers in a social or casual environment. I can spot a group of IT coworkers at lunch together from a mile away.

  18. GeorgeTuk

    Reality check

    In my 10 years experience I have come across many people who are unhappy with their career in IT, and many people on the outside who think it must be fabulously well paid (with some astronomical guesses at my packages).

    I think the problem is a lot of people in the industry (not everyone!) thinks that by being able to tinker with computers and writing a blog that they are God's gift to IT. They also don't realise that IT department is just that, a department within a company that should conform and perform in the same way (not exactly obviously). You do have to be nice to people, be sociable, understand the business and do things that may be against your better judgement to help the business along.

    People in IT should also be aware that having experience counts more than anything as well as being engaging and approachable. Just because you know stuff other people don't doesn't make you special or different. And also by gosh, the hobbies you have need to seperate you from your work, no one wants to hang out with a total geek and so it makes it much harder to meet people in the company and therefore get on.

    Three rules I have for getting on in IT:

    1) Talk to people about how IT can help their department (it's not all about locking stuff down)

    2) Get some more interesting hobbies than gaming and sci-fi (keep them as well though if you want)

    3) Prepare to work that little bit harder and maybe a little bit later without a massive thank you. Sometimes its viewed as doing your job.

    I am not saying I am amazing but being 27 years old and IT Manager for 120 odd people isn't too bad, touch wood!

  19. Dr. Mouse

    My 2p

    The problem is that a promotion normally involves being 'in charge' of a team. I certainly don't want that. I am not a manager, and likely never will be.

    From what I have seen, the only real way to get a promotion from a technical role is to be bad at your job. Good engineers/programmers etc. are kept doing the job they are good at. Those who are crap at their job are promoted to management.

    As has been stated previously, the main career path open to skilled techies is to move to another company, or to threaten to do so to your current employer (if you are valued enough), which gets you a better salary but no real career advancement.

    In short, techinical roles are not a career, they are a job, just like shelf-stackers in Tesco. Work through the week, party at the weekend, and always keep your eye out for a better [paid] job.

    Suits me fine, but then I work to live, not live to work, and the main things that differentiate a good job from a bad for me are the pay packet and how much your boss/colleagues/others within the co appreciate the work you are doing (I know it's not much, but a pat on the head every now and again, maybe a bonus or pay rise, do actually make a big difference to me)

  20. Yorkshirepudding

    @ indianaJ

    agreed the only way up is out!

    and i feel right that way now, same shit different day sick of endless troubles with transit, leased lines, frakking voip phones ETC time for a change methinks, goat herding in the outer Hebrides i think

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Too much too young

    Let's face it, the average ealy 20s IT/development person earns far more than their none IT compatriot (Oxbridge graduates aside), for an fairly straight forward inside job with no heavy lifting.

    Compared to a (say) mechanic who also provides a service industry there are no career paths there either.

    I have worked a several IT companies, and have run development teams. In all companies we have had a senior developer role for people who are technically excellent, but just not cut out for other customer facing or management roles.

    Bottom line is that sales will allways earn the most in any organisation, followed by managers, and then by actual people that do things for a living.

  22. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    It's not...

    It's not about the direction, or progression. It's about the money.

    I'm a career contract technical project manager in the SAP arena and I've just had a lovely pay rise thanks. £475 PD at my previous client, and now onto another client at £6xx PD. No reviews, no hoops... just dodgy permananent staffers to make look bad during meetings.

    I've no intention of progressing anywhere as I know what my core skillset is, and I'm happy to keep it at that - everything else can be picked up ad-hoc.

    Happy days.

  23. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    All I can say

    To you IT peeps is:

    Welcome to my world, the land of the industrial robot programmer.

    For the past 15 years the only way to get any 'career advancement' in what I do has been to march into the managers office, slap a resignation on his desk and walk out the front door.

    Sure you'll get the sweet talk about how vital you are and how much you are appreciated, but no you are not getting that promotion because nobody with your skill set would come work for the miserly money we pay, plus we have no idea how you do your job(or even what you do) so could not even write a job advert.

    Oh and the programmers stick together because talking about some neat algorithm is much better fun than listening to Henry from accounts drone on about big brother(the tv show)

    PS... never be indespensible.... if you cannot be replaced you will never be promoted

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Get on the ladder, even if it's a small one

    I'm a code jockey and have hopped jobs a bit, more recently due to the redundancy than anything else.

    I tend to go for small companies with no scope for progression and now find myself a 1 man IT Dept. i feel like a manager without the title (or wage). Give it a year and hopefully I've got the necessary skills and experience to blag a managerial role in a bigger firm with a wage to match.

    I agree with whoever said some of these nerds need to have non-geek habits. As for being sociable, i like the idea and like to think i am. However there is no way i'd go for a pint with my immediate superior - a clueless sweaty douche i would not want to be associated or seen with outside of work.

  25. IndianaJ


    And the joy of trying to move on? Having to deal with those 'recruitment consultants'. As bad, if not worse than, estate agents.

    OT though, agreed with tech managers being failed techies. Surprised they haven't gone into teaching really.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well to my mind...

    The further you move up in the IT line, the more meetings you have to go to (in suits, with suits), and the less IT geekery you get to do...

    Meetings Bad! Geekery Good!

    I'll stick to my Jeans, T-shirt and soldering iron thank you. Far more fun than dull conference calls and presentations knocked up in powerpoint.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Ooh, let's beat up on managers

    Lots of people giving managers a hard time. Fair enough, there are plenty of bad ones.

    But realistically, what sort of career progression can you get if you want to stay in a purely technical role? Imagine a graduate starts work aged 21 and earns 20K. You can easily believe that 10 years later he (or she) will have picked up loads more skills, be loads more productive and therefore be worth 40K - because (s)he's twice as useful to the company.

    Another 10 years later though, it's a lot harder to imagine that (s)he's got that much better again. There may be a few super-gurus who are twice as good again and can pull 80K, but not many.

    Of course, this happens to mangers too. Given that company structures are usually triangular, it doesn't take a genius to realise that not all the wannabe PHBs are going to get the keys to the executive washroom one day.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ indianaj and yorkshirepudding

    I'm with you guys. It's the usual crapola. Join a company, find there's no scope or the company (middle management usually) spends too much time shafting the staff, find a new (usually better paid) job and repeat.

    It's common practise these days for a company to value loyalty about as highly as turd. Does your insurance renewal see the same discount as a new quote? - no, because they don't value loyalty. Same with an employer - you work your ass off, and they either promote you with less money than an external would get, or they try and change your contract to screw you over.

    Unfortunately, that's the name of the game, and the only rule is 'money talks, BS walks'

    Paris knows all about getting screwed.

  29. SynnerCal

    Re: Sometimes its not the path - it's the direction

    Like the icon says - have you got the number for internal purchasing? Because I need to get a replacement keyboard for the one I just knack'd following coffee spraying after reading your posting!!!!

    Seriously though - I really feel for the Hayes folks ... actually no I don't. Heck a pay _freeze_ is normal round these here parts. When you start getting pay _cuts_ and job losses then I'll empathsise.

    Agree with the general comments here - it seems shortsighted that if you want to go up the ranks then basically it's team leader then manager. What happened to the company equivalent of "Fellow" - as in someone very technically adept and respected - a 'guru' in effect? Maybe if companies were more willing to encourage folks into that kind of role, then there's a non-management role for the techies to aspire to.

    I'd jump at the chance of a role like that - even if it was only with a small pay rise - even more so if it meant training and the possibility of some speculative 'blue sky' projects - you know, good old style R&D.

    The problem is - as "What would you expect?" demonstrates - that too many folks regard IT as a menial job, lumped in with the security and cleaning folks, forgetting that - like the two aforementioned jobs - that it's a key support role. Lord, even some _IT companies_ seem to regard IT as "menial".

    Depressing isn't it...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Career path, schmareer path

    Where the hell did IT people get it into their heads that there was, or should ever be, such a thing as a 'career path' anyway?

    If more of them had got laid, drunk and stoned BEFORE they went to college, they'd have avoided all the rites-of-passage bollocks that just ends up with them getting milk-rounded onto the bottom of the corporate ladder.

  31. ThirdMan

    Roll Up, Roll Up Join the IT Jobs Merry-Go-Round

    I've worked in IT for the last 15 years since leaving University, I've observed the following pattern in myself and co-workers, lets call it the IT Job Life Cycle

    1. See "fantastic opportunity" advertised

    2. Apply and get interviewed

    3. With a bit of "luck" get offered the job

    4. Start job, take a few months to get acclimatised

    5. within 6 months you've had your first taste of being messed around by "little Hitler" management and corporate bullsh*t

    6. After 9 months the penny drops that you've been sold a crock of sh*t

    7. After 2 years start to think about getting a new job

    8. After 3 years of imposed misery, pain and sorrow goto 1.

    Basically IT jobs are just Hi-Tech Sh*t shovelling, there are no professional standards and there is no respect of abilities. You need 5 years of highy specialised experience just to get through the door so even if you want to do something different no one will give you a job unless you've got a CV full of acronyms in exactly what the employer wants. If you work somewhere where this is not the case please contact me with with any open vacancies but I suspect I won't get much response.

  32. AD 4

    The difference between IT and most other careers

    The difference between IT and most other careers is that someone on the bottom rung can have a higher market rate than people in the rungs above. Usually, companies set up their pay and benefits structures to motivate their employees to put in extra work, build up experience and get to the next rung. That doesn't work when the market rate for a DBA, system admin or programmer with 5 years of specialist experience is asking for more pay than a line manager with 5 years experience.

    Other professions have structured themselves differently, surgeons get more than hospital admins, sales people can earn more than sales managers, footballers get more than football managers, film stars get more than film producers. They can still motivate and develop people without needing a hierarchical structure.

    The companies that don't understand this are the ones that are dependent on contractors because their own pay structures mean they can't pay their employees the market rate.

  33. iamapizza

    If you don't like it...

    IT, or at least programming is one of a very special set of job types. It is a service, yes, but you should be doing it because you like to do it, not because it's just another job. If you're a programmer and don't like it, you shouldn't be doing it, it's as simple as that. No true programmer would be dissatisfied with programming after 20 years.

    If you're looking for a career path, you want management, team leading, architecture, etc. But none of it is the same as the point at which you started.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plods not IT

    "More to job than shoot 'em ups and doughnuts, y'know"

    What is the difference between a police officer and a BOFH?

    They both enjoy shooting things and beating up others but the police get to do it for real - and get away with it.

  35. Doug Glass

    Ode To Johnny

    Get your contracts out boys and girls and read the fine print, what you'll find is there is no guaranteed "career path" no matter what anybody may have told you. What, No contract? Well, guess what, you are at the mercy of the company.

    If you're going to stay with the company and take their money, do their work and go home at quittin' time. If you're going to whine and carp, get out ... go elsewhere. They're just buying your soul one day at a time and with that you owe them the work. Or, in the immortal words of Johnny Paycheck you can always tell them to "Take this job and shove it".

    I love retirement. Only took me about 30 minutes to get my soul back and I sold it daily for 32 years, You just have to make up your mind that all you're doing is "makin' 8" (hours/day) and your life will be a lot easier/

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm IT. Just what is that ?

    IT IT who needs it? Lets shut down all the systems and watch everything grind to a complete halt. It "may" be service industry but business can now not function without it. Lets face it most IT guys could do 90% of the other jobs in company but less than 10% of non-IT workforce could do IT. While IT is just tolerated by companies (see offshore, rightshore, seashore) and not allowed to become a key player at senior management level it will stay the same. Thanks to companies such MS everyone is an "IT expert" because computing has become ubiquitous and just because you can blog, knock up a crap powerpoint (is there ever a good one) and use outlook does not make you an expert or imbue you with the ability to make sweeping IT decisions.

    I agree with the above statements saying that you need to more approachable and speak a language that others understand without being aloof or haughty.

    In the end I do IT because it is a wide subject with plenty to get your teeth into. If you wish to progress ensure you explain IT issues in a language others understand and be prepared to do a lot of reading around (management, accounting, marketing) to make ideas creditable to wider audience and have them understand that IT is all pervasive and a tool for change, focus and growth.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    SO it's a social war then?

    Apparently, personality differences are enough to bring a world economy to its knees.

    Managers want to hire people that don't exist, and employees want to work, not live, at their jobs.

    I.T. is, unacceptably by many, a broad term over used and dumbed down by those who haven't a clue at how NOT simple it is to define. For a jack of all trades in IT that has some understanding of IT, this is an impossible task, as hiring managers don't know how to deal with long answers to what they believe are simple questions, especially when there are so many IT "experts" who tell them what they want to hear and feed into their fantasies of what an IT professional really is ( bubble burst by the IT wannabees, do we really need another one? VB is everything we need to know and with a tie we can do anything... whoops CRASH).

    Basically we in the IT field just need to go back to our roots and join together independently to form consulting companies, because in the end, it is the quality of the job the customers want, not having everyone who is working in a tie. Until those ideas come out into the open for what they are (asinine) then things will not change and everyone will keep playing the blame game of the idiots who don't know what they are talking about. As is evident from most of the posts above.

    Based on the article and posts above I'm going to just settle on moving to a small town and opening a shop there, it's the only way people like me can have any kind of job security.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    You sir are a sage

    PS... never be indespensible.... if you cannot be replaced you will never be promoted

    This is so true

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've progressed, I'm happy...

    I'm not a manager, been there, done that, not too bothered about it but it's sometimes part of the job. My satisfaction these days is being respected in a big (10,000+) company for the work I do and having people from top to bottom recognising my skills and genuinely asking for advice. Writing code is just the lego blocks, the career path is when you understand how your business works especially if it is from a perspective that no-one else has and can turn that knowledge into something that is valued by the company. Oh, dirty secret, my salary has increased over 250% in less than 10 years because of this.

  40. Vanir
    Gates Horns

    Career progression?

    Let's accept the fact that career progression is really status and prestige progression. Money is a factor in this as a bigger pay packet values this status and prestige. It's never about earning that pay. Just look at the top bankers; it's their egos, vanity and insecurity that drives them to 'award' themselves increasingly large amounts of money; in essence they are saying that their desired status and prestige can only be confirmed with these amounts of money and it is concrete evidence to show others, especially other top bankers.

    If only the job of programming paid well and had significant status and prestige!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plug ...

    pull ... more money please ... YES? ... you win -- NO? .... Bye bye then -- and don't call again.

    Thank you ... either way, win win.

  42. Keith T

    IT in Canada is a trade, not a profession.

    Sadly, the top jobs in IT in Canada and the USA usually go to sales people.

    The middle management jobs are split between sales people and accountants.

    In business-based IT, the lower level management jobs usually go to female IT people.

    Excellent male IT professionals, usually get sidelined into dead-end technical specialist jobs, no matter what their personality traits or interpersonal abilities.

    Really IT in Canada is a trade, not a profession. It offers no career path. The careers belong to the professions that manage IT people.

  43. Keith T

    The stereo types of IT are too powerful, our own managers re-enforce them

    1. The stereo types of IT people are too powerful, and our managers, being accounting and sales continuously promote them.

    As well as programming, technical analyst and project leading, I have done work in sales over the years. Sales people get regular training to develop their people skills. It occurs weekly in weekly sales meetings, and it occurs on courses they are sent off site for.

    As well, most sales people are given similar frequent training in negotiations and goal setting.

    I remember my first sales meeting at the last company I did sales for. Six of us started that day. The manager went around the table and asked us each what we were here for. It was all money. None of this "self-fulfilment", "self-actualization" or "to help the company" crap IT people are taught to parrot.

    I have a brother who is an accountant, and even they get courses to develop their people and negotiation skills.

    IT people lack people skills because they aren't sent on courses. And because that deficit makes it easy to keep them down.

    2. IT people are often sent on technical courses as an alternative to giving them pay raises.

    In my work as project leader, around review time, we would be told to offer courses, and to tell our staff that the new technology would allow them to advance their careers.

    Of course what the technical courses typically let the IT people do is keep their existing job, but work in a different language or operating system. It sets them up for a lateral transfer at the same level.

    It keeps them content for another year. It lets us have another year's grunt work out of them.

    3. Remember the EDS "herding cats" commercial.

    Supposedly programmers are as hard to herd as cats. EDS makes money off of how supposedly hard to manage programmers are. But really, programmers are easy to manage, if you don't mind manipulating, duping and cheating untrained people.

  44. Keith T


    People will always need *quality* IT Staff.

    And they'll always need people to clean the toilets. Is toilet cleaning a career?

  45. Keith T

    If you think non-IT people make good IT managers, look at all the failed projects

    If you think non-IT people make good managers, look at all the failed large-scale IT projects they are responsible for.

    Failure to understand the problem before giving an estimate for the construction phase. Immature technology chosen. Inappropriate technology chosen. Inability to select qualified technical staff. Inability to understand the implications of technical problems. Inability to understand when scope creep is occurring. Inability to detect when vendors are lying. Inability to know when the project is ready to implement.

    Sales people and marketing people may have been taught the people skills and the negotiation skills, but they don't have the IT skills to lead IT projects.

    The solution is to teach IT people people skills and negotiation skills.

    Teaching IT people people skills and negotiation skills would also help at the level of small projects and tasks. Programmers focusing on what they need to do theri jobs, rather than what they think their bosses want to hear, means better estimates from programmers, which means more schedules met, which means more successful projects.

    Programmers knowing how to negotiate with each other and with bosses means programmers coming forward with their dissatisfaction, rather than quitting suddenly in a huff.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David 9

    Whilst 99% is clearly an exaggeration the basic sentiment of AC is quite true, IT workers are rapidly becoming service workers. You may be fortunate to enjoy your job but many people don't share you enthusiasm and you are not aware of how service based contracts are steadily lowering the quality of work and the satisfaction of the workers.

    There are many companies whose entire operation is subcontracted out on service based contracts with only managers left as permanent employees. These contracts are primarily awarded on the basis of cost, ie: service company A puts in a bid lower than B and gets the contract. Generally B had the contract before so couldn't put in a lower bid because it wants to retain it's profit margin and still has to continue paying its workers at least the same however, now it has to carrying on doing so with no work for them. The contracting company was happy with the work the employees of B did and doesn't really want to lose the experience of those employees nor want a long hand over period during which the employees of B hand over to those of A. Remember that the Bs will soon be out of a job due to losing the contract and they will not be motivated to train the As. The simple solution is for company A to take on the employees of B. Now A knows full well that the Bs will soon be out of work, what do you think is going to happen? They will make offers of employment to the Bs for less than they are currently working, the Bs being between a rock and a very hard place have little choice.(*)

    Result, lower wages, higher job dissatisfaction and no career path. The contracting company boosts profits and ignores customer complaints as the bottom line is looking good.

    Do this through a few iterations and you will see another side of your utopia.

    You don't believe this is happening? There are many complaints about the QOS of many telecomms providers, ever thought why?

    Oh, and if you want someone to blame for this model, it's Margaret Thatcher and her government that came up with the idea to reduce the costs of big business.

    (*) There is another scenario where A will sub-contract B to continue doing the work and simply take a cut for doing nothing. This requires B to continue providing the service with fewer workers but at least the company is making some money. In all cases the contracting company is not concerned with staff numbers merely that a service is being provider just as if they were hiring contract cleaners.

  47. JayDee

    Who cares

    We are all going to Die in 2012, but the aliens might rescue us if they fancy it, depends how they feel on the day.

  48. Ian Chard


    Keith T: 'IT people are often sent on technical courses as an alternative to giving them pay raises.'

    Dead right... but an important factor is that most training courses are rubbish, and the delegates thereon walk away with nothing except an attendance certificate and an expenses claim.

    In the last fifteen years I've only attended two training courses where the trainers REALLY knew their subjects, were actually good at teaching, and the material in use wasn't hopelessly out of date.

  49. Britt Johnston

    use your skills to enjoy life

    In our large Swiss company I've seen a lot of happy programmers over the last 20 years.

    They often sold their skills at good prices to finance their way of life. Many enjoyed large projects, living in flats in town and eating out. Some have brought Irish pubs or rugby clubs to these shores. Others took up skiing. One I remember worked a 4-day 48 hour week, and flew to his lake district cottage on weekends.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Well said ThirdMan

    That was pretty much my process from my last job fortunately the current one is

    Better but its descriptive of much of my career. I've been through the Soul-numbing

    Agony of a Clueless and impotent management structure that used to have me

    Screaming with rage on a regular basis, having to do my managers job for him and

    Working in an office where your contributions are not rewarded much less noticed,

    Where IT professionals opinions and experience is ignored in favour of salesman’s

    PowerPoint presentations and the company ask you to write code with questionable

    Legal practices that even the promotion to team leader and a 17% pay raise couldn't

    Convince me to stay ... and that was before the recession, I dread to think what it's

    like out there now.

  51. lorenzo
    Paris Hilton

    Moan whine moan whine repeat to fade

    Choose Life not Drugs

    "I want my employer to map a career path out for me"

    Which reality are you guys living in?

    It's up to you, no-one else. Leaving your whole career in the hands of your feckless boss or useless HR departments??

    I thought IT guys were supposed to be smart.

    It's a recession. you've got a job, quite moaning

    When the economy picks up, go freelance, make more money, pay for yoru own training and stop moaning

    Shees, anyone would think the universe owed you a living.

    Now, where did i put the plans for the Improbabilty Drive?

    Paris- cos she takes her future in her own hands

  52. Tawakalna

    IT's got a career?

    f*cking hell - so what have I been doing wrong for the last <counts> 30 years?

  53. jacktar99


    I agree with the earlier post that IT is now more of a trade - just like plumbers, mechanics, etc. At the end of the day computers are a tool so IT workers are just glorified tool makers or people who know how to use that tool or repair it. I even knew plumbers back in the Y2K boom days who picked up some IT knowledge and ended up as Sys Admins or DBAs, and then went back plumbing after the crash - shows how easy it is for fellow trade workers to join IT if need be. It would be difficult for them to do the same in a medical or legal profession. In the old days - 70s, 80s - computer techs were seen more as scientists or engineers - remember the images of guys in white coats hovering over an IBM mainframe, but now we're seen more as experts on now to use and implement tools. Knowledge on a product/tool is king today, and experience sometimes has no depth if you come up against someone who knows a new product better than you do. I've seen techs promoted to senior tech posts - and they tend to slack off a little and can't keep up with the latest technology and managers have even less of a clue of the products being worked on by their team members. My philosophy is therefore to keep ahead of the game and constantly update your knowledge in your niche areas, and you will get respect and hopefully be rewarded and recognized for that.

  54. Harry Pearce

    It's not just IT

    I work in a major science and technology laboratory, Phds to the left Phds to the right in every discipline you can imagine and the biggest complaint regardless of technical or scientific background :- there is no technical career path, to move up through the ranks which is the only way to a decent payrise requires you to develop management skills.

    That said IT and computer science, since they are different things, are not good careeer choices esp. the latter. Computing has been dumbed down by easy to use tools such as Visual Basic, Excel etc to the point that large models are being built by non-computer specialists. I was in one meeting when I asked a near board level person what they intended to do about computing support in the lab. The reply was to ask for everyone to put their hand up who had a copy of MS Office on their desk; 100% of course and Excel met their needs.

    With that attitude establishing a specialist niche for a computing career is hard work to say the very least.

    But at least this article has convinced me that it's not just me who's finding it hard going.

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