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Flanigan's Bullishness on '90s Difficult to See

April 21, 1991

James Flanigan's column repeats two widely accepted "facts."

The first: "The U.S. economy created more than 2 million jobs a year in the 1980s." But most of these jobs were in the minimum-wage category, with laid-off Ph.Ds and middle managers working at fast-food franchises.

The second: ". . . a lot of that growth appears to be for computer systems analysts and programmers." But the growth is seen as a result of the perceived shortage of qualified people, regardless of the supply of capable people. The prevailing view among the majority of "mismanagers" is that qualified means having actual work experience (not classroom training) with exactly the same model computer, exactly the same computer language and exactly the same area of business application.

These myopic managers would leave a position unfilled (hence a demand/shortage, implying growth) rather than train an available (unemployed) capable person in whatever item is missing from their laundry list of job qualifications.

They ignore the concept of transferable skills and knowledge.

My 20 years of analysis and programming experience on IBM mainframes is of little interest to a manager looking for an IBM mid-range programmer/analyst and of no interest to one looking for a VAX programmer/analyst.

This is why we have the "fact" of projected growth in the computer field, even as we have growth in unemployment and underemployment.


Harbor City

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