the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese

6.5 Structured Stagnant Software Industry

Nowadays the number of temporary staff employment is rapidly decreasing in the software industry. A long-term layoff would be lucky for you when many other programmers are thrown out of their company. Most mom-and-pop programmer-leasing companies and software houses have been going out of business, and more and more companies are likely to go bankrupt in the near future.

However you must know that the situation in the past was thousands of times crazier. Remember how these staff-leasing companies have been gaining money. It's surprising for me that they were leasing a staff with unbelievably poor skills. They used to employ a person who was not at all familiar with a computer and sent him/her to the client as their staff without sufficient training. Since the client was not so versed in the computer, there was no way to know the difference. Given this situation, we have a bare possibility to find a competent staff.

Although the software industry suffers significant depression, it is still demanding highly skilled engineers. Even in the midst of this business stagnancy, persons who have sufficient skills are forced to work like a dog every day and night. Since the computer industry is now facing drastic changes, software programs are also required to change in order to keep pace with the computer's evolution. Needless to say, therefore, the programmer must survive these dramatically changing environments. A little portion of programmers who have caused these changes is tremendously busy. Since the lows of nature is such that some programmers are thrown out by the business metabolism. If you don't agree to this nature, you should not stay around the industry.

In the past our main job was to automate a typically clerical work. On the other hand, our client major manufacturers used to place their large computers in the glass-faced rooms, almost saying, "KEEP OFF. It's precious." At the same time, most of these rooms were boastingly placed around the entrance halls of their headquarters buildings.

A huge number of programmers were needed to generate programs used for such large computers. Just running a simple clerical program needed the help of large computers in those days. The cost of a person was almost nothing compared to that of the computer.

Now the situation has been completely inverted. Today the monthly cost of a programmer is far more expensive than that of a higher-performance computer. Finally the human beings have become the most precious existence. Programmers must be enjoying this situation.

Long time ago an engineer has been shipped "bundled" with a large computer. Computer engineers were nothing but the extra component of the computer. As described above, this situation has been changed, most programmers don't seem to be so happy, though.

The reason is simple. You don't have the need to rely on "amateur" engineers any more. Now you can substitute a computer for the engineers when your tasks consist of simple routine works. The computer would carry them out in more accurate fashion.

The total amount of the commercial demand has been significantly decreased. Most companies are forced to cut prices, which finally resulted in the severe dumping struggle. All the staff-leasing and software companies are rushing to get orders as many as possible without reducing their staff.

The clients tend to give an order to companies with lower prices, instead of making a decision in terms of the skill level. The philosophy of the top management and accounting section would be a kind of "the cheaper, the better." They don't care about the risk that could be caused by this philosophy.

You may feel sorry for programmers who have lost their job. But you should not take the side of such poor-skilled engineers. Bad programs made by these seem-like engineers might endanger your ordinary life. In addition the bad programmers themselves can be killed by their own programs. Any way I recommend that they quit programming as soon as possible.

It is not correct to say there are no more jobs in the true sense of the word. The fact is that too many people are flocking around popular jobs such as those in computer business. But consider the high aged society has arrived. The number of aged people is rapidly increasing. In addition the great advancement of computer has achieved more sophisticated medical equipment, thereby allowing more and more people to live longer. Some of them must not survive with the former technology. As a result, the number of brain-dead patients are also increasing. Any way, there is a lot of people who need the help from others today. Actually most of nursing facilities are suffering severe staff shortage. No doubt there are abundant opportunity for employment in these "growing industries."

Japanese software industry holds too many people while maintaining the lowest productivity level in the world. Notice that poor engineers are significant burdens. The software technology of Japan is not at all appreciated as much as you expect by other Asian nations. As a matter of fact we are now falling behind them in terms of computer technology. The day might come when Japan is nothing but a computer-consuming nation. In order to prevent such situation, at least a half of programmers must be thrown out. The lower half must improve their skill if they want to stay in this industry. Otherwise, programming would not be his/her best choice of an occupation. There must be more appropriate choice to make the best of their ability.

Copyright 1996, 1999 Hirofumi Fujiwara. Translated by H.K.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.

the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese