Couple of news item worth listening to.

On the way into work yesterday there were at least two stories on NPR that I thought more folks should hear about. The first is about some pissed off people in Washington who are upset over dangerously high levels of lead contamination in their drinking water.

Lead in Water – Part I

News of dangerous levels of lead in Washington D.C.‘s drinking water sparks an outcry from the community—especially because city water officials knew about the problem and did little to warn the public. In the first of two reports, NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling explains that weak federal laws regulating drinking water are to blame.

We have Detroit city water here in Canton and we’ve got one of those Brita water filters installed on our tap in the kitchen, but this still leaves me wondering what the water quality here is truly like. Considering how the EPA has allowed this condition to continue for so long I find it somewhat ironic that one of the big news item in Michigan lately is how we may return to emissions testing on our cars because the EPA thinks the air in Michigan is too dirty.

The other news item that was interesting was about how enrollment in Comp Sci classes is diminishing as stories about tech workers losing their jobs and being unable to find new ones continue to spread as jobs are outsourced overseas.

Fewer Students Enroll in Computer Science Programs

A new survey shows a dramatic decline in enrollment in computer science programs at U.S. universities and colleges across the country. Some professors and business leaders worry about America’s ability to remain competitive. NPR’s Laura Sydell reports.

I must confess that I kept thinking “Good” when listening to this story. Seeing as I’m a technical professional who’s been forced into a non-technical position I’ve been looking for a new job that would move me back into my field of competence. On top of that I personally know technical people who have been out of work for awhile now including our own Eric Paulsen so a little tech worker shortage can only be a good thing in my eyes at this point. I can certainly see how in the long-term this might be something to be concerned about, but it’s hard to be too upset about it when you’ve got so many tech workers not working at the moment.

5 thoughts on “Couple of news item worth listening to.

  1. The reason many of them are opting out of computer science is that many of the jobs (CS and IT both) are being outsourced to foreign countries.  Those jobs remaining are seeing degraded salaries as a result, and also due to assloads of H1-B visas.

    Counselors are now warning folks away from IT and CS in the same manner as they did medical technologists in the mid 80’s. 

    D

  2. Indeed, though I found it interesting that one of the college professors teaching CompSci in the news item mentions how they’re attempting to attract people back by offering courses in video game design.

    You could be in for some increased competition there, D!

  3. I heard that program while I was driving to work.  As soon as I heard it, actually, I remembered Les and Eric.  Pretty funny that Les was listening to the program too.

    Personally, I’m glad that counselors are warning people away from IT.  I wish someone had taken the time to sit me down and -really- tell me, “the odds that you will find a job with a PhD in English are -very- low.  Get your teaching credential.”

    You have to go where the work is.  And since it’s kind of difficult to “outsource” high school education to India, I’m going to jump through the hoops necessary to get a teaching credential.

    I don’t think they’re going to find a way to replace/automate/outsource high-school English—not in my lifetime, at least.

    Las Vegas is hurting for teachers so badly that they’re sending recruiters to CA—and offering a $1000 bonus for anyone who’s willing to move to Vegas and take on a teaching position.

  4. I read this report that tracks the quality of the codes written. I cannot remember what it is called, but I believe it has a range up to 20. It is calculated through the number of mistakes per line. Does this ring any bell? The interesting thing is that apparently code written in India has a higher level quality that those made in US. So basically the company would think, why should we pay more and get less.

    The only way to be competitive is to either increase the person’s rate of work or to unfortunately reduce their pay.

    The point on video games shows that there is a need to move up the value chain. From being a manufacturing job to that of ‘inventor’ or creator. Personally I feel the strength of the US lies in its research and development category. And the restriction on stem cell research (for example) helps shift some jobs overseas.

    So the moral of the story is to look for jobs where outsourcing would be difficult. Such as being a lawwyer or a doctor.

  5. Or alternatively, if you cannot beat them join them.

    There are people setting up little firms that advises companies how to outsouce. And they go to India, or wherever one outsources to, to help train the replacements.

    But it must be said the the amount outsourced is not all that significant. After all, many of the chip manufacturing and other computer related products are already established in Asia. Many of the largest chips foundry are in Asia.

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