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Technology. The Nervous Heart of the Black Economy

You may have read my banging on about recession and ageism in the IT industry but today, one of our readers, Iain Janes, the Managing Director of Equations, finally caught-up with one of my earlier columns and gave me a call.

You see, I had been wondering when all the cuts we keep reading about would start to show-up in the unemployment figures and only this week, I heard that another friend, Chairman of a very large and well-known IT services company, is agonizing over a possible 40% cut in staff by the end of the year.

You won’t see what’s happening in the IT industry in the unemployment figures”, Iain Janes told me.

Why on earth not?” I asked.

“Simple”, he said. “Most, if not all of the people cut to-date, have savings or redundancy money. How many people do you know who have actually signed-on?”

“None”, I said.

“Exactly” said Mr Janes. “While you have savings you can’t sign-on, it’s pointless anyway and many of the losses are among self-employed contractors and they can’t sign on either. Ipso Facto, they don’t exist, like the millions of ‘unemployed’ students".

“But” said Iain, “It gets worse. You see, so-called ‘Middle England’ not only shoulders most of the tax burden but funds a greater proportion of the Black Economy. Cash-in-hand payments to nannies, builders, window-cleaners, gardeners and so on. So if you cut the heart out of the IT business, which has been one of the more lucrative sources of the home-improvements industry, you will ultimately see not just a loss in Corporation Tax revenues but a knock-on effect further down the economic order”.

Does this mean more traffic wardens then?” I asked. “Exactly said our newly acquired economic prophet”. “Under new Treasury guidelines, unemployment becomes a thing of the past, everyone will either work for the Office of the e-Envoy, IBM or NHS (IT) and anyone who doesn’t will be an estate-agent a political advisor, a parking warden or a student”.

Will there be elections in this new utopia I wondered? Yes. But under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), these will surely be self financing and I would point you towards Robin Cook’s ideas on the further development of eDemocracy and the Internet.

So having started life as a COBOL programmer, I’m starting to wonder where the opportunity lies in the IT Business outside of developing local government portals for the payment of parking fines. I see hundreds of sales people but the substance and experience seems to be leeching from this industry as each month of downsizing passes. How much farther can we go before the wheels start to come off?

Is it really as bad as I think it is? Send me an email.

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