I was very interested to read the Opinion article by Gordon Eve-Tatham (Computer Weekly 14 November) and his past experiences of work within the computer industry - they are very similar to mine.
Like Gordon I started in the Computer industry straight from secondary school in July 1964, working for Elliott Automation in Hertfordshire as a test engineer and progressing to a commissioning engineer. Apart from a brief period working for Centre-File then owned by National Westminster Bank, I stayed in computer engineering for the next 30 years.
Unlike Gordon I did acquire some formal electronics qualifications which helped in my career progression in the early years, but later on these became more or less redundant due to rapid changes in technology.
However unlike Gordon, I chose not to stay with any one company for any length of time, preferring to move around the industry to gain wider experience and further my career. Whilst this has undoubtedly had an impact on my pensions, it has never the less assured that I am still employable after over forty two years.
In my opinion to remain employable you have to look after number one, keep your knowledge current, monitor industry trends, keep networking with your contacts, be adaptable with transferable skills. Like Gordon I decided to change roles later in my career and moved from field engineering / manager background to an IT Services sales role.
It was a transition I have never regretted and that one key move assured my future earnings potential. Apart from a period of six months in the early 1990's when I was out of work due to the deep recession in the industry, I have always managed to find employment and excellent training with leading IT companies.
I agree with Gordon's comments about the JobCentre and the quality of help you get. My experience is that it is virtually non existent when you tell them your past earnings and what you are looking for. They are nice enough people, but do not really understand the many computer industry roles. Great if you are a warehouse man, but no go if you are used to earning over £30k. His comments that there is no long-term future is also correct, especially when you get into your later years.
I have learned to accept that companies don't want to pay for my extensive past experience and high salary, preferring to employ someone younger and cheaper. I don't agree with his comments about finding work outside of the industry, I have found a very satisfying role on a highly successful central government contract rolling out on-line Planning applications (http://www.planningportal.gov.uk) to Architects and Local Planning Authorities. The role uses many of my past sales skills and has allowed me to develop new ones in the area of e-commerce / e-government.
Regional Account Manager - DCLG Planning Portal
Comment on this article: email@example.com