Beware The Software Developer Purge!

 

How many times have you heard that the world is running out of developers ?, and that usually is followed a few years later by the statement that developers will be extinct!.

I recall reading an article that Ronald Regan Star-Wars program created such a shortage in this new field called software development, I thought then that my Commodore 64 is not just my best teenage companion but may also be my ticket out of my small town in the south of Egypt and into the big shiny world!, only few geeks like me really cared about computers then.

But more than 10 years when I arrived in Canada, Microsoft certification was all the rage (second only to day trading), and everyone I know was in “IT”.

When the tech bubble busted in 2001, The market purged itself pretty well,  some of my motorcycle buddies who worked for Microsoft went back to being accountant, club bouncers, and managers, then the pendulum swung too much to the other side, and by 2007 if you were a software developer you were doomed, your job is going overseas, somewhere, somehow, someone decided writing software is something that should be done for 30$/hr. and nobody wanted to study software again. the dark ages of coding loomed!.

Those who were talented were pushed to the side, and yet there were still a lot of “Computer Blue Collar” jobs, you know?, the Unix Admins, the DB admins,the Operations guys, and , those guys that were still necessary to stay here (not overseas) and were hired by every government/bank/enterprise in the country.

Then in 2008 in the middle of that horrific economic gloom, Mr. Steve Jobs came up with a magical glass rectangle he called  an iPhone, and BOOM, software was back, big time, this time riding a waves of social media, Analytics, BigData, Cloud, IOT, FinTechs, smart homes, smart driving cars, and on and on.

Albeit 15 years late, the “New Economy” we dreamt in the 90s is here and suddenly if you are not in software you are losing big time, and while creating shortage in talent it did quite a trick on those “Blue Collar” IT jobs of the past 10 years, nobody wants Unix Admins anymore, those who were purged by the economy in 2001 were once again purged by technology in 2015 onwards, the cycle repeats!.

Coding (Software Engineering) is funny this way, it is a science you can argue, but it is deeply rooted in talent, so while the schools are churning larger and larger numbers of Software Engineers, that does not really mean an increase in talent, it just means we are preparing the next generation of IT blue collar workers, and if history is a judge, eventually something will happen and only those talented will stay.

I feel truly privileged to be alive in this environment where I a am surrounded by talented people at my work, I love being with them, and in all honesty some of them do not appreciate it as they have not lived the dark years of the post tech-boom and financial collapse!.

Software maybe popular these days, it may become (though highly unlikely) less popular in the future, but for the few who truly enjoy working with it, it will never be a comfortable blue collar job, it will always be a passion and joy.

Much as my Commodore 64 was!.

Ahmed.

 

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