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Controversy was recently courted as Southern California Edison (SCE) prepares to cut their own staff while looking to meet their staffing needs with offshore employees skilled in the field of “IT” or Informational Technology. This has been the second major utility company in the United States to take this path towards providing services to its consumers while holding current rates at consistent levels. SCE does not disclose the exact numbers of expected lay-offs, but the LA Times reports that it is in the hundreds.  Utility companies tell their consumers that these moves are necessary as a hedge against inflation and to keep their services at rates that their customers can easily afford. Critics claim that the use of foreign workers is the first step to using an entirely foreign workforce and promoting large scale unemployment amongst American citizens. Often this has been seen as a conflict between national and international workers for the same jobs, salaries and careers.

It has been noted that this State of California utility company, much like other corporations that hire foreign workers does so primarily when there is a shortage of national citizens that can perform these jobs well. IT workers that are brought in with H-1B Visa work permits usually are college educated and hold expertise in technical areas and studies that local employees may not be especially trained in. Once again, critics decry the fact that these employees are not hired directly. On shore contracting companies operating in the continental United States are directly hired by the utility companies. These contracted companies then serve as “middle-men” and hire a wide range of foreign workers with H-1B paperwork so that they can move to the United States. The workers then perform a variety of jobs instead of American workers who were either born in the country or have achieved American citizenship on their own.

Needless to say, the amount of visas issued in a given year is a concern for U.S workers in various fields but particularly in Information Technology. As large corporations stack the employment deck with foreign workers who put in the hours for a fraction of the pay-rate for local employees, local IT professionals are finding it more difficult to find work nationally.  They encounter rejections, endless interview processes or low –ball offers from companies and recruiting agencies looking to fill positions at a bare minimum cost for coveted skill-sets.  


Meanwhile, an H-1B worker is a worker brought in on a temporary basis with a visa allowing them to work freely in the United States. Much like a student or travel visa, it is issued for on a calendar oriented basis.  Applicants who successfully renew the visa for an extended period of time can expect to work in the United States for up to ten years.  Although U.S companies hiring these employees may pay them less than their local employees, the salaries earned by H-1B Visa workers are almost always higher than these workers would earn in their own country of origin.

Both sides can agree on several issues. When it comes to these H-1B Visa workers, their assignments are generally of a contractual nature and require them to reside in this country for a period of months to years. However it is also an accepted fact that while they are in this country, they are responsible for paying rent, utilities and all other living expenses. As residents of the United States on a permanent basis, they are also liable for taxes on any salary they have earned while living here.

Dr. Norman Matloff, a professor at the University of California, Davis and writer on political matters believes the shortage to be fiction. In his writing for the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, he claims that “there has been no shortage of qualified American citizens to fill American computer-related jobs, and that the data offered as evidence of American corporations needing H-1B visas to address labor shortages was erroneous. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) agrees with him and describes the situation as a crisis. Likewise, other studies from Duke, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Georgetown University have disputed that in some years, the number of foreign programmers and engineers imported outnumbered the number of jobs created by the industry

For many people, one of the most exciting and challenging career choices is computer programming. There are several ways that people can enter the computer programming profession; however, the most popular method has traditionally been the educational route through an educational institution of higher learning such as a college or technical school.

Even though many people think of computer programmers as individuals with a technical background, some programmers enter the computer programming profession without a structured technical background. In addition, after further investigation several interesting facts are uncovered when a profile of the best computer programmers is analyzed.

When observing how the top programmers in the profession work, there are four characteristics that tend to separate the top programmers from the average programmers. These four characteristics are:

1.Creativity.
2.Attention To Detail.
3.Learns New Things Quickly.
4.Works Well With Others.

Creativity.

Being a top computer programmer requires a combination of several unique qualities. One of these qualities is creativity. In its very essence, computer programming is about creating programs to accomplish specific tasks in the most efficient manner. The ability to develop computer code to accomplish tasks takes a certain level of creativity. The top computer programmers tend to have a great deal of creativity, and they have the desire to try things in a variety of ways to produce the best results for a particular situation.

Attention To Detail.

While creativity is important for top programmers an almost opposite quality is needed to produce great computer programs on a consistent basis, this quality is attention to detail. The very nature of computer programming requires the need to enter thousands of lines of computer programming code. What separates many top programmers from average programmers is the ability to enter these lines of code with a minimum amount of errors and just as importantly test the code to catch any unseen errors. Top computer programmers have the necessary attention to detail to successfully create and enter the necessary computer code project after project.

Learns New Things Quickly.

The technology field is constantly changing. Almost daily new technology innovations are being developed that require computer programmers to learn new technology or enhancements to current technology on a regular basis. The top computer programmers are able to learn new technology or enhancements quickly, and then they are able to apply what has been learned to their current and future programming projects in a seamless manner.

Works Well With Others.

There are several differences between top computer programmers and other programmers. However, one of the biggest differences is the ability to work well with others. By its very nature, computer programming requires programmers to spend a lot of time alone developing computer code, but the top computer programmers are able to excel at this aspect of computer programming along with being able to work well with other people.

Regarding computer programmers, the top programmers approach and handle their jobs differently than other programmers, and these differences set them apart from the other programmers. For any average programmers who have the desire to excel as a computer programmer, they must understand and embrace the characteristics of top programmers.

 

Related:

How important is it to exercise for people in technology that sit for hours on end?

What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?

With an ever increasing rise in the use of employment testing, certification testing and need to get a degree, I thought I would write this basic guide on how to study for exams.  Although it was originally written with the college student in mind, the fundamentals still apply to all of us in the workforce.

There are few things that strike terror into the hearts of students more than exam day, particularly if they have inadequate study skills. Perhaps these students study for hours and hours, only to discover that by exam time they've forgotten everything they've read. Below are a few study tips to help struggling students remember the information they've reviewed for their exams. 

-Use memory tricks. There are a number of memory tricks that you can use to help you remember large amounts of information. For example, the use of acronyms (such as Roy G Biv to remember the colors of the rainbow) can be very helpful. In addition, you can use visualization techniques, similes, and songs to assist you in recalling your study material.

-Don't cram. Your brain requires time to absorb facts. If you know about a test in advance, start studying right away for a little bit every day, ramping up your efforts as the exam approaches.

-Take frequent breaks while studying. It may seem counter-intuitive that spending less time studying might actually help you remember more of what you've read. But taking appropriately timed study breaks will keep your mind fresh and make sure you don't stress too much.

-Write it out. For many people, writing information down as they read it is the best way to learn it. Don't just write exactly what you read, however; by rewording the information or even drawing a picture or diagram you commit it to your memory in more than one way, allowing you to remember it easier later.

-Teach it to a friend. To remember information, you have to understand it. And in order to teach information, you need to understand it as well. Nothing tests your ability to recall facts better than teaching them to another person. Find a friend unfamiliar with your study material and teach them a lesson in the subject.

-Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam. Finally, be sure to get a good night's rest the night before you take the exam. Falling asleep at your desk will accomplish nothing. This will help you be more alert while you are taking your test, and will allow you to retain more information.

 

Let’s face it, fad or not, companies are starting to ask themselves how they could possibly use machine learning and AI technologies in their organization. Many are being lured by the promise of profits by discovering winning patterns with algorithms that will enable solid predictions… The reality is that most technology and business professionals do not have sufficient understanding of how machine learning works and where it can be applied.  For a lot of firms, the focus still tends to be on small-scale changes instead of focusing on what really matters…tackling their approach to machine learning.

In the recent Wall Street Journal article, Machine Learning at Scale Remains Elusive for Many Firms, Steven Norton captures interesting comments from the industry’s data science experts. In the article, he quotes panelists from the MIT Digital Economy Conference in NYC, on businesses current practices with AI and machine learning. All agree on the fact that, for all the talk of Machine Learning and AI’s potential in the enterprise, many firms aren’t yet equipped to take advantage of it fully.

Panelist,  Michael Chui, partner at McKinsey Global Institute states that “If a company just mechanically says OK, I’ll automate this little activity here and this little activity there, rather than re-thinking the entire process and how it can be enabled by technology, they usually get very little value out of it. “Few companies have deployed these technologies in a core business process or at scale.”

Panelist, Hilary Mason, general manager at Cloudera Inc., had this to say, “With very few exceptions, every company we work with wants to start with a cost-savings application of automation.” “Most organizations are not set up to do this well.”

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Canada since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Cisco programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Cisco experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Cisco programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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