Progressing from the land to the office isn't always all it's cracked up to be, as Vance Kearney discovers
I can't say that I am ageing well, with four kids, one close to graduating in computer science just as the boom becomes a bust - and I'm thinking about bouncing grandchildren on my knees.
My grandfather worked on the land as a tied agricultural labourer and my dad was a toolmaker. The few people left who know what that is will tell you it is the elite of the engineering craft trades. Here I am now, head of HR for a successful global multinational in Europe. It seems the family has progressed well from the land to the office, from poverty to relative riches. Yes, life and Larry Ellison have been good to me.
Can you remember the bad old days when we were all in coal mining, shipbuilding, steel production and manufacturing? That was dirty old work, wasn't it? Luckily that all went to the Far East. The West was too expensive. Those businesses couldn't support our economic and social needs, and today we are all far happier as knowledge workers with our service industries, air-conditioned offices and Starbucks.
We never had it so good, what with full employment, generous state pensions and welfare states and good health and education services, despite what the papers say. Until now, that is, when it all became too darned hard.
Hands up all employers that like employing people in Europe - and don't tell me you like 50 per cent payroll taxes, and 30 months pay to lay people off, every decision challenged in a workers' court or a workers' council. What are you, masochists? I know it keeps us HR types busy, but get real - this is utter lunacy.
But fear not, it's going to get easier. Not because governments will wise up (no-one gets elected by facing hard facts) but because all the jobs are going away. Don't you believe me? Where's the fastest growing centre for shared services and back-office functions (such as HR and finance)? It is Bangalore. What's the predicted global market for back-office outsourcing? $200bn in five years. Where can you deliver most of the functions we excel at in Europe and the west: financial services, travel and distribution, publishing, technology and media? India again. An almost limitless supply (by European standards) of highly educated talent just itching to take over the work we do best.
There are as many software developers in Hyderabad as t