Year-2000 staffing

With fewer than 200 days until the new year, are there still opportunities for year-2000 specialists to cash in on the crisis? Has desperation launched year-2000 employment opportunities to new heights?

According to Jerry Peterson, an account executive at MIS International, in Olathe, Kansas, the answer is a resounding no.

"[Year-2000 employment is] a nonissue in the recruiting world," Peterson says. "There just isn't demand."

But not everyone agrees that prospects are as bleak as Peterson suggests.

Bob Cohen, senior vice president of the Information Technology Association of America, in Arlington, Virginia, says year-2000 work is still available, but the precise skills that are in demand have changed.

"The challenge has shifted from a focus on doing remediation to doing testing and contingency planning," Cohen says. Testing involves developing test scripts to help companies make sure that their systems are correctly remedied. Contingency planning involves finding alternative means of doing work in areas that simply cannot be fixed on time. This challenge, according to Cohen, requires people with a multidisciplinary skill set who can think of nontraditional ways to get tasks accomplished.

Uri Urmacher, vice president of Computer Performance Engineering, in Los Angeles, points out that while demand for year-2000 specialists may be slackening among large businesses, small businesses may still need help.

"There is a lot of demand among small businesses for software integration," Urmacher says.

In general, there is more demand for year-2000 consultants than for full-time workers, according to Kim Taha, a technical recruiter for DW Technologies, in Centerville, Delaware.

"[Companies are] not going to hire someone [now] and have to keep them on board," Taha says.

Wages for these consultants have gone up considerably since last year. Last year someone with three years of experience might have earned $45 per hour as a year-2000 consultant; this year the figure is $US67 per hour, Taha says.

Even after January 1, 2000 demand for year-2000 work is not likely to disappear entirely.

"There will be demand for people who know the whole system to patch up problems," Urmacher says.

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