back to article Yes, you ARE a member of a global technology elite

Analyst firm IDC has released a study titled the “2014 Worldwide Software Developer and ICT-Skilled Worker Estimates” that offers a guess at how many people are what it calls “ICT-skilled workers”. The definition is a bit floppy, with IDC suggesting it covers “professional and hobbyist software developers and information and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now consider...

    ... that maybe 5-10% of those (optimistically) are actually any good at what they do.

    1. SJG

      Re: Now consider...

      No way. Just thinking about the over 1000 contacts I have on LinkedIn, I'd trust fewer than 10 to code something I really needed to work, and no, I'm not going to name them, I'd upset 990 others ! But they know who they are.

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Now consider...

      @AC 08:06

      Sturgeon's Revelation applies: 90% of everything is crap.

      1. HollyHopDrive

        Re: Now consider...

        And if the bunch of goons I'm now forced to use for offloading my technical work to are "typical" of Indias technical elite I'd say I'm well within the top 1% worldwide.

        They can't code with any insight into maintainability and standards are something they don't apparently have to follow. Testing is for somebody else to do (cos they clearly never do it) and it takes 10 times longer and then still has to be reworked another 10 times. Your advice and suggestions are greeted with contempt and rarely do we ever met a deadline.

        But they are cheap and the bean counters are therefore happy. But you get what you pay for.

        But to call them IT pros would be stretching it to say the least. Keen amateur would be much more appropriate.

        1. Grikath

          Re: Now consider... @hollyhopdrive

          Will you please stop insulting the Keen Amateurs.... We simply code because we need to/for fun/for lulz/personal growth/stuff.

          We never pretend to be "Pro"...

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Now consider...

      More to the point, in that rather vague bracket of

      “professional and hobbyist software developers and information and communications technology (ICT)–skilled workers”. there are an awful lot of those people who are not trained professionals.

      I include myself in that. I learnt computing in the 1970s, at school, I can usually fix a computer without making things worse, used to be able to write some useful code and can sort out most IT problems, even finding fixes for issues on my site that the true pros then used in other sites; but it was always a sidleline to my main job. And in no way am I part of any "globasl technology elite".

    4. CheesyTheClown

      Re: Now consider...

      What percentage could actually read and understand a Donald Knuth book?

  2. xperroni

    Someday (but not quite soon)

    1 in 387 humans, or about 0.26 per cent of humanity, can code

    So I guess the future envisioned in Asimov's Someday short story is still a long ways off?


  3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    In my experience:

    [so-called ICT-skilled worker] != [IT pro]

    Especially true with the C in between IT ;-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An industry matured

    I suspect that being able to code will become more of a niche skill again in the future, in the same way that it was niche at the beginning of the industry. As the industry matured and the barriers to entry became easier we've seen huge swathes of people join the industry from around the world. But I see things moving in the other direction again and with commoditisation of PC's and systems and the migration to "the cloud" (just another term for getting someone else to run it) most industries just arent; willing to invest in IT and see it as a cost rather than an enabler. That will probably result in a gradual slide in the numbers of people joiing the industry across the world, and those roles still there will be less technical. Unfortunately my role has changed over the years from being an actual techie job to someone who shuffles spreadsheets, reports and RAG statuses around. So being a genuinely technical person, and being genuinely good at it, will probably become a less common skill in the future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An industry matured

      More, the nature of the role is changing.

      When I started, numbers were encoded in BCD on tape. Then we had the typed languages where you had to define things as ints, floats and the rest, but still needed an idea of the underlying architecture if you were to avoid over or underflow. And now we have the "advanced" languages where things are "numbers" and for most purposes ordinary coders don't need to know anything more (in Python you can put a complex number into a variable without comment - though you shouldn't, of course)

      Infrastructure lags coding, so it's only in recent years that it has been possible to deploy web apps without knowing in some detail how a web server works. Bandwidth is changing from something you had to design, to something you simply buy.

      This is exactly as it should be because people want to solve problems, not write code. (Or, they should do.) Carpenters became a lot more productive when first, they didn't have to sharpen their own tools, and then someone put motors on them. DIY plumbing became a lot more feasible when pushfit joints became more reliable than solder joints.

      What would be interesting is the know the percentage of the world population that design and implement solutions to problems. Does that stay roughly constant? I suspect it may.

      1. Nuke

        AC @11:19 Re: An industry matured

        Wrote :- "DIY plumbing became a lot more feasible when pushfit joints became more reliable than solder joints."

        I baulked at that. Push fit joints are not reliable; maybe more reliable than YOUR soldered joints if that is what you mean. Generally, if a soldered joint does not leak when it is first made, it is never going to leak. And I would never buy a house with push-fit plumbing

  5. Chris G

    A sense of proportion.

    Selling people on the notion of being part of an elite while helping them to give them a sense of pride in what they do , is really meaningless.

    Every skilled set of individuals who specialise are members of a small ellite; take lawnmower engineers, there are thousands of sportsgrounds and golfcourses but the number of engineers they are able to go to for maintenance or repair of their equipment is going to be a tenth or smaller than the number of customers.

    How many physicists who actually work as physicists are there?

    Most people are part of some kind of minority or elite group and given the number of screw ups in any given industry or group the true elites are even smaller.

    I'm in an elite group of 1 as I am expert at being me and nobody else can do that (or wants to).

    With or without elites the world goes on.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: A sense of proportion.

      I'm not part of any elite.

      Me, I'm mostly harmless...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Devil in the definitions

    Those numbers are intriguing, but to my mind there is a great big inconsistency. If "ICT-skilled worker" really means "IT pro" as Simon conjectures, the figures stack up fairly well. But surely "ICT-skilled worker" more properly means anyone who knows how to use a computer? And of course, in that sense, we are rapidly approaching a state of affairs where that is more or less equivalent to "worker". Who can get a job nowadays without being reasonably competent at using Windows and Office? (That is what "IT" means, isn't it?) In which case, there should be far, far more "ICT-skilled workers".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The world needs 1 in 10 to be so then we are rich, if the world needs 1 in 10,000 to be so, then we are poor.

    The fraction doesn't really tell you much.

  8. ukgnome


    What about the rest of us?

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    It's not the code that matters

    > about 0.26 per cent of humanity, can code

    But how many can debug?

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: It's not the code that matters

      Code well, and debug well! I've had to debug another fellow's code that did intermittent overwrites due to network buffers being allocated on the local stack. Of course after the function ended, the IP data still went to those locations! Eww!!!! One fellow I worked with constantly sabotaged my code. He thought he was "improving" it.

      1. PJI

        Re: It's not the code that matters

        >>Code well, and debug well!

        If you code well, who needs to debug? :) If there is a bug after good coding, then it must be in the analysis or design.

        Now, coding is the easy, mundane part: analysis and design are the hard parts that need real professionals, possibly followed by effective project management to keep all the parts, from design to software distribution and training on track, coordinated and on time, while recruiting the right people.

        With good high level and detailed designs, an average school leaver can do the coding, if he or she can read the design document.

  10. Jim 59

    IT ?

    IT/ICT is a restrictive definition. To the man in the street, it means somebody who works in a company IT Department. But what about software engineers, for example ? They might work in R&D, or many other places. Are they classed as IT workers ? What about a university researcher using PERL to analyze geographic data ? A designer at ARM simulating IC circuits ? They would all have specialist computer knowledge.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly an elite, isn't it?

    1 in 300-odd, I mean. Consider what's the percentage of Doctors, commercial pilots, bus drivers, bicycle mechanics, ...

    When you know everyone else in the World that can do your job, that's an elite.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT Pros who can't code?

    1 in 318 humans is an IT pro, or about 0.32 per cent of the global population

    1 in 387 humans, or about 0.26 per cent of humanity, can code

    Does this imply that only (0.26 / 0.32 )=81.25% of IT pros can code? And, since there are many people who aren't IT pros who *can* code, that the true number of IT pros who can code is much less than 80%.

    I smell funny numbers here...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: IT Pros who can't code?

      Define "can code." I can write applications in about 4 different languages. Maybe 5. I know enough of the fundementals of coding that if I had a yen to, I could learn (almost*) any other language and go from there. "Not knowing the language" is usually a matter of "not knowing the built-in functions" and having to look up bits of syntax.

      That said, I can debug in languages I can't code in. This is because you can identify the syntax from context and teh googlz will tell you what you need to know about the functions in use. I write primarily in PHP, and ASP but can cheerily debug PERL, Python or C/C++/C# without too much difficulty.

      Yet I'm not a developer. I wouldn't say I "can code" in a professional fashion. I can write you an application. It will probably be shite and a real developer will laugh at it, but it will do what it needs to do for now. It's the kind of thing that would be used for prototyping and working out workflow bugs, but if you are going to trust your business to it then madre de dios get a real developer.

      Would I count as "can code?" The ability to take a POST from an HTML page, do some string manipulation in PHP and then bung it into a MySQL database shouldn't count as coding, any more than scratching awkward signs on the sidewalk in chalk is "writing."

      "Coding" should include training in bit banging, assembler, catching buffer overflows, null pointer errors, input sanitisation, code optimisation...hell, just learning to make SQL queries that are even a close to optimal is an art of itself.

      Real programmers need to grok the difference between O(n log n) and O(log2 n) sorting, I (shamefully) had to look it up because I couldn't remember what the "Big O" for bubble sort was.

      What I know is the developer equivalent of "how to change your car's oil." That's a hell of a long way from being the developer equivalent of a proper mechanic or - more "elite" - the developer equivalent of a proper engineer.

      Yet it seems to me they'd count me among those who "know how to code". That's not right, I think. Binary is the improper database field to contain the full spectrum of options required to cover "can they code?"

      *LISP and I are unlikely to ever be friends. Bash scripting is another one of those things that I requires a lot of time with books.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Remeber what tends to happen to "Elite" units.

    They are given the toughest jobs.

    They have the highest casualty rates.

    Don't think you'll get out of this alive.

  14. MrDamage Silver badge

    Am I the only one

    Who read that as "1 in 318 IT Professionals is human"?

  15. Corinne

    ICT Professional != proper "techy"

    From what I've seen & heard over recent years, the term "ICT professional" doesn't just cover technical people (coders, architects etc) but also includes Hell Desk people, project/programme managers & BAs, and even in some cases anyone who works in a call centre & is therefore chained to a PC during working hours.

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