[Commentary ] On Developer job security in Oz?

Ian Loxton ilox at airnet.com.au
Mon May 19 13:37:13 CST 2003

Builder AU Community newsletter -- Monday May 19, 2003.
 Welcome to the first installment of the Builder AU community
 While talking to developers in the community today there is
 one theme that just keeps popping up in conversation--job
 security. After the dot-com boom, during which HTML
 developers were earning up to AU$50 an hour, many
 developers today are taking on jobs for salaries which are,
 in some cases, half of what they used to earn. 
 That is, of course, if they are still employed. While this
 could be seen as a reality check in many areas of the market
 it is disheartening to see developers being judged solely by
 the bottom line. 
 A prime example of this came when I was talking to a
 recently redundant developer for a multinational company,
 who was told "according to our ROI figures we cannot afford
 to keep you". Being one of the senior software engineers,
 who was up to date with certification and had an impressive
 record with his customers was not enough. He later found out
 that not only was his position outsourced to India, but so
 were the positions of his entire team. 
 So where does that leave the Australian developers who
 cannot find a job, even with the latest development
 certifications (that do not come cheap) and who are
 developing world class applications and software with the
 most efficient methodologies? Are Australian developers just
 not cheap enough in the current climate? 
 I'm not sure that Australian developers can ever be cheap
 enough to compete on a purely monetary basis with their
 counterparts in countries such as China and India. So who is
 lobbying to protect local developers?
 While the government has, to its credit, invested in
 initatives to increase expertise in Australia, through
 funding to start-ups and research, there is little being
 done in regard to Australian developers being able to
 compete at the bottom line in terms of wages
 There is a considerable amount of money poured into the
 developer community by some of the bigger vendors in
 Australia to help developers and ISV's be competitive in
 the global market. Although this is an investment that makes
 their own products more attractive, what will become of
 this investment if there is little support from the
 government to make local expertise attractive financially? 
 Some might say in an open market this is just a fact of life
 and we should be more competitive in other areas where there
 is a more level playing field. This might sound nice in
 theory but one has to wonder how much will it cost to re-
 train the vast majority of the 200,000 developers in
 What is your opinion of job security in Australia? Do you
 think there should be more intervention to harness local
 development and talent? E-mail us at builder at zdnet.com.au
 with your opinion. 


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