Apr 24, 2007

The fate of a skilled worker

I happened to read this post discussing on ever increasing demand for skilled workers. In the post, the blogger writes about how other industries can benefit by nurturing skilled workers and creating opportunities for them so as to keep this more as a long term benefit.

Considering the examples were taken, let me speak about the industry that I am associated with - the IT industry. Yes, people here are skilled; the working part, I am not so sure. Of course, this is not generalizing the entire population of this industry but a surprisingly sizable chunk of them. I am ready to put up a fight against those who would say this does not apply at all.

I have seen enough instances of skilled workforce sitting idle for lack of projects, lack of direction in the work, lack of 'space' and yes, don’t be surprised, lack of desktops. And these are not in some struggling, small firms. The idea is to hoard. Whether they are required or not at the moment, we have people who are doing nothing yet highly skilled. The general argument is that a healthy reserve is a must for all company and its the norm in the industry. I would agree to that. But how long should that reserve go on in the 'reserve' mode? And how are these skilled people who are in the reserve, contributing to the general growth of the industry?

Unfortunately, the work environment in most of the companies does not promote creativity during idle hours, for the very reason that I mentioned above – 'lack of many things' that would enable doing any kind of work. There would be people no doubt, highly ambitious, who would make use of this time to come up with ground breaking ideas. But let me assure you they are few and far between.

I guess the benefit occurs in the initial stages of development in an industry. Hiring skilled force is not a big deal but utilizing them, nurturing them and creating opportunities for them is the problem. As the industry grows, the inefficiencies grow too and at present, it's the opportunity creation that is lagging behind. And an idling skilled workforce is one of the manifestations of the inefficiency.
Yes, this is just one side of the argument, but an argument it is.


Just Me said...

Way to go Rusty!!

Ya know 'the lack of desktop' was one of the reasons I switched jobs from a mega firm to a smaller one where I'm now treated much better.

I mean at least they didn't have me sitting in the amphitheater :P

RustyNeurons said...

I think I know which amphitheater you are talking about! :)

Just Me said...

Sure you do. You probably see it everyday :)

Unless you work in one of the gazillion other offices the-company-I-think-is-your-employer has scattered around my favorite city :P

Neelakantan said...

Hmm...as you rightly say, it is an argument and perhaps one sided, but an argument it is.

Companies would do well to use these skilled people to explore and develop products or anything they feel like. Like they do in many firms, 20% time is for whatever you feel like doing. Skunk works is another concept.

There is nothing so bad as buying a great new machine and letting it rust, which is what happens to skilled workers in some firms. Sad but true.

RustyNeurons said...

@ Just Me:
I am very much there!

@ Neelakantan:
"Companies would do well to use these skilled people to explore and develop products or anything they feel like." - As I mentioned in my post, this is not so easy because of lack of resources to work. Also, the policies on billability, usage of technical tools prevent people from getting into such activities. End of day, even if one is willing, she/he simply is bound by constraints.