Bill Gates wonders why students are turning away from CS

I’ll tell you why Bill…

It is your fault. Well, yours and Carly Fiorina and pretty much every other high tech CEO. You laid-off employees in secret and in public and you opened campuses in other countries and made promises to staff them with cheaper labor. You drove American software development wages down and crushed start-ups where the cool stuff is actually happening. You bring in H1-B indentured servants and pay them less than industry wages.

I am an alumni interviewer for the top CS program in the country. In the last few years, I have been asked more and more frequently if it is a good idea to major in CS given where the industry is going.

Honestly, I’d hate to be one of the kids graduating today with a degree in CS. The industry may rebound and wages may go higher for a little while, but the writing is on the wall. Today’s software developers are yesteryears machinists and assembly-line workers. Those were once solid middle class jobs with good incomes and now they are getting squeezed on all sides by companies who don’t give a damn about their employees and foreign workers who just want to make a decent wage.

I think that there will always be good CS jobs in America, but not as many as there used to be. The industry destroyed the image of the industry…

The funny thing is that while Bill is bemoaning the lack of qualified applicants to Microsoft, I have heard from friends in HR there that they are getting so many resumes that they can’t keep up. What is wrong with those resumes? Well, most of them are from people with industry experience, not college hires. You see, Microsoft prefers college hires (and H1-B visa holders) because they get paid less, work longer hours, don’t have families and are more likely to stick around in a job they don’t like (because they don’t know where else they can go). A 40 year old is not going to work five 80 hour weeks in a row because a Program Manager made a promise without consulting development. Or if that 40 year does work those hours, those will be his last five weeks at the company because he is either going to quit or die an early death.

Bill, you want more college students interested in studying Computer Science? How about making Microsoft a fun place to work again with good wages? How about not laying off employees in secret while doing massive hiring in China and India?

some references:
Gates: You just can’t get the staff (The Register)
Gates Puzzled Why More Students Don’t Choose Computer Science (KOMO News)
Gates stresses need for qualified help (The Seattle Times)
India calls for big increase in US IT visas

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