Tag: employment

Google bashes on glass ceiling

vaulted-glass-ceiling-of-the-shopping-arcade-galleria-vittorio-emanuele-ii-sami-sarkisSearch engine Google said it is doing its best to fight against the idea of getting the right man for the job when it should really be a woman.

Google said 21 percent of tech hires last year were women, boosting overall number of women in technical roles by one percent, as part of efforts to increase diversity.

The company recently began disclosing the makeup of its workforce after admitting that it was “wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues”.

The tech industry has problems in that it tends to hire only white men in its industry and lacks any sense of inclusiveness towards minorities.

Google said that the numbers of Black and Hispanic employees hired outpaced the company’s overall hiring growth, but made up for only two percent and three percent of total workforce, respectively.

Writing it in its bog, Google said that it had a long way to go, we’re seeing some early progress.

Software will replace more people says Gates

Software King of the World Sir William Gates III said that software will start replacing more people and US secondary schools may not be able stay ahead of software automation.

Mincing his words, Gates dubbed the process “software substitution” or systems capable of doing jobs now done by people.

Gates, in an interview with the American Enterprise Institute reckons that 20 years from now labour demand for a lot of skill sets will be substantially lower, and he does not think people have that in their mental model.

The impact of automation on the labour market, whether it’s for drivers, waiters or nurses, is progressing and low income jobs are being eliminated by globalisation.

Now the quality of automation, software artificial intelligence, is improving fast enough that you can start to worry about middle class jobs. The US has lost manufacturing and union wage scales. Those were middle class jobs. “Automation is doing that, the wage differential is tilted, the more education you get, and the higher you are going to be paid and the tilt of that is much higher. It’s really that low end that’s been impacted the most,” said Gates.

The only way for a person to survive is through improving US education. The US has to do a better job educating its workforce. 

Microsoft extends Window XP’s life

Software giant Microsoft will provide updates to its security products  – antimalware engine and signatures – for Windows XP users until July 14, 2015.

This means that XP will get another year’s life. Previously, the company said it would halt all updates on the same day as the end of support date for Windows XP April 8, 2014.

This means that Microsoft Security Essentials will continue to get updates after full support ends for Windows XP. For enterprise customers, the same goes for System Centre Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection, and Windows Intune running on Windows XP.

Microsoft is still ending technical assistance for Windows XP on April 8 and will stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date.

But updates to its security products for an additional 15 months should keep many people still using XP interested it keeping that way. After all, while Windows XP will no longer be a supported operating system come April, companies will be at least partially protected until a year after July.

Vole has been trying to get people away from Windows XP to “better” products, and the best way to do that is to stick to its end of support date. On the other hand, there are still so many millions of Windows XP users out there that leaving them completely vulnerable could cause more harm than good. 

Programmers shift out of the office

The tech industry is moving towards contractors and younger and mid-career workers might need to prepare to make a living solo.

More than 18 percent of all IT workers are self-employed, according to an analysis by Emergent Research.

The self-employed IT workforce is growing at the rate of about seven percent yearly, which is faster than the overall growth rate for independent workers generally, at 5.5 percent.

Steve King, a partner at Emergent, said the growth in independent workers is being driven by companies that want to stay ahead of change, and can bring in workers with the right skills.

He said that was all happening so quickly and everyone is trying to figure out how to be more flexible and agile, cut fixed costs and move to variable costs.

In house people are seen as a fixed cost so something needs to be done about it, he said.

Much of the boost might be down to the recession. Many analysts expect large IT organizations to step up hiring in 2014, which may cause the percentage of contract workers to decline back to a more normal 10 percent level.

However it is also possible that new hiring will be even more contract labour as employers have become used to the more flexible use of staff. 

India's IT workers increasingly depressed

Psychiatrists in India are noting a serious spike in depressed workers among the country’s considerable IT workforce.

A director at NIMHANS, the largest counselling and psychiatric centre in India, told the Economic Times of India that when the IT industry began its boom in the country, signs of work-life stress were showing but they are increasingly moving towards signs of depression.

Increasingly, symptoms such as anxiety, acute depression, low confidence and those with little to no interest in a social life are making themselves known to India’s mental health professionals.

Right now, the India Times reports, a NIMHANS centre specifically tailored for urban patients to balance work life problems is seeing more and more patients from the IT industry – and expects that soon, over half will be IT workers. Just two years ago, under a third worked in IT.

A depression counsellor who worked with IT staff who suffer from depression said pressures from social media aren’t helping – although their major points of interaction are online, many workers also feel under pressure to pretend they “have a slice of happy life”, while burying their head in the sand about work-life problems.

Hiring is slowing down in India’s IT sector, and the wider economic environment is seeing companies trying to save money by cutting employee costs first.

Earlier this April, industry body Nasscom said in 2013 there will be 50,000 fewer jobs available in the once booming IT sector. It claimed the enormous contracting deals Indian firms used to be able to score are starting to wane, and future outsourcing project deals will be much smaller.

US techies out of work

The US is facing an increase in the unemployment rate for people at the heart of many tech innovations, even while IT companies claim they are short staffed.

Unemployment among electrical engineers rose sharply in the first quarter of this year and the IEEE-USA says the increase is alarming.

According to Computerworld, electrical engineering jobs declined by 40,000 in the first quarter, and the unemployment rate in the category rose to 6.5 percent, based on an analysis of US Labour Data by the IEEE-USA.

Meanwhile the numbers of unemployed software developers are on the rise. The unemployment rate for software engineers was 2.2 percent in the first quarter, down from 2.8 percent in 2012, IEEE-USA said. This means that there were 1.1 million software developers were employed during the first quarter.

Between 2010 and 2011, the unemployment rate for electrical engineers held at 3.4 percent. In 2012 there were 335,000 electrical engineers counted in the workforce and it’s now just 295,000.

Keith Grzelak, the IEEE-USA’s vice president of government relations, said that the first quarter unemployment spike is alarming.

He warned that unemployment rates for engineers could get worse if the IT industry gets its way on H-1B visas.

The big technology companies are lobbying their sock puppets in Washington to get the numbers of H-1B visas increased so that they can bring in more foreign IT workers.

The US  reported this week that it had received 124,000 H-1B petitions for the 85,000 visas allowed.

Not surprisingly, the IEEE-USA has long opposed efforts to increase the numbers of H-1B visas. 

Samsung stamps down on smokers

Samsung is considering making its workplaces non-smoking areas.

The company may have a fight on its hands with as one source put it to TechEye: Most of the Samsung execs “smoke like chimneys”.

The Korean giant has said it may begin to reward non-smoking entry-level job applicants extra marks, which could give them the potential to land a job with the company.

According to the Joongang Daily, the moves are a way to “promote a nonsmoking culture at the workplace to a level in other developed economies,”

It quoted a Samsung spokesman as claiming: “Good health conditions of employees is the top competitive edge of the firm.”

Not only will smokers have trouble getting their CVs through the door, Samsung is also considering testing new recruits’ urine and hair samples.

Samsung sent out an internal email earlier this month to employees at its device-solution division informing them that smokers will be discriminated against when it came to executive promotions. It has also decided to target its workers and garnered the signatures of 35,000 smoking employees pledging to quit.  

Last year, its Suwon operation was also designated as a “mandatory smoke-free zone.”

Foxconn hires Burson-Marsteller to hit out at underage worker claims

Foxconn Technology Group has denied claims from a Chinese worker’s rights group that it uses child labour in any form.

TechEye has been reporting how Hong Kong-based nonprofit Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) complained that Apple tipped off Foxconn that the inspectors were coming and executives assigned child workers elsewhere.

According to a SACOM report, 16- and 17-year olds are allowed to work under Apple’s supplier code of conduct but with special restrictions on types and duration of their work, which Foxconn allegedly ignores.

However, a Foxconn spokesperson has told us that the company is committed to honouring and respecting the codes of conduct of its customers, like Apple, and it takes these things very seriously.

There is no doubt that Foxconn is indeed taking things seriously. The Foxconn spokesperson comes from none other than spin masters Burson-Marsteller, which is a global public relations company which specialises in dealing with enormous PR disasters.

Burson-Marsteller has handled Tylenol poisonings, and, according to Corporate Watch, the Bhopal disaster, and the Three Mile Island. It represented the private military group Blackwater which was accused of being gung-ho against the residents of Baghdad.

There can’t be many PR companies which have had clients like the  Argentinian military junta led by General Jorge Videla who helped 35,000 people to disappear. Burson-Marsteller looked after the image of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and Saudi Arabia after it was pointed out that most of the September 11 attackers were from that country.

Anyway,  Foxconn is telling us that it has strict recruitment regulations to ensure full compliance with worker age regulations and laws.

“We have sufficient access to workers who are of legal age and there is no incentive for us to break our own strict policies and Chinese law on the matter. Let us be very clear, Foxconn does not employ, in any capacity, any underage workers,” the spokesperson said.

Foxconn waded into SACOM for trying to find fault with the 16 percent to 25 percent compensation increase that was given to Foxconn assembly line workers in China.

“It is a clear sign that SACOM is not interested in seeing actions that bring real benefit to workers in China. As such, they do a disservice to those companies who do provide competitive wages and benefits,” Foxconn said.

According to Foxconn, it had increased wages throughout its operations in China to keep its reputation of being a high payer in the country.

Higher wages mean that it can compete for employees and it is a key reason why Foxconn has one of the highest employee recruitment and retention rates in China, so it goes.

Contrary to SACOM’s statements, said Foxconn, it has a high staff retention rate thanks to the fact that 75 percent of its assembly line workers in Shenzhen are getting paid well for their work.

“Foxconn Employees recognise that the picture SACOM paints of our operations is not at all accurate,” Foxconn insists.

Foxconn insists that it is paying compensation that is significantly higher than government-mandated wage levels and as high or higher than others in the industry in the same location.

In a sideways swipe to SACOM, Foxconn is working with “credible outside organisations such as the Fair Labor Association” to “ensure that our over a million employees in China have a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive to everyone else.”

Foxconn top brass Terry Gou has been quoted as saying: “Hungry people have especially clear minds”. Terry Gou also http://news.techeye.net/business/foxconn-says-sorry-for-calling-employees-animals allegedly said, speaking at a zoo in Taipei: “I have a headache how to manage one million animals.”

Foxconn plant has "tonnes of issues"

After early indications that the inspection of the Foxconn operations by US labour NGO the Fair Labour Association was going to turn out to be a white wash, it turns out that group has found a lot wrong with the hardware maker’s working conditions.

Earlier last week, after two days at the plant, the FLA said that it was better than other Chinese companies which looked like the group was going to sing from the Apple hymn sheet.

FLA chief executive officer Auret van Heerden said in an interview with Reuters that Foxconn’s plants were “first class”. He said he was surprised “how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory”.

Apple allowed the FLA into the site to investigate why people were trying to exit its biggest supplier via the roof.

Now, it seems that van Heerden has changed tack and is saying that it has uncovered “tonnes of issues” that need to be addressed at a Foxconn Technology Group plant in Shenzhen, China,

Speaking to Bloomberg, Van Heerden said that he was on his way to present preliminary findings to Foxconn management.

Foxconn will have had a chance to contest or agree to steps to prevent further violations, he said.

Foxconn has said that it is cooperating fully with the audit and that it will review and act on all findings and recommendations.

Foxconn praised what was a “very professional and thorough review” and any deficiencies the FLA might find in the implementation of customer or Foxconn policies will be addressed, it promised.

Apple has commissioned the FLA to carry out smaller projects in the past two years, in order to try out some of the inspection techniques used by the group to more effectively root out workplace problems. 

Foxconn hacked by SwaggSec

Hacking group Swagg Security said that it had broken into Foxconn’s network and found usernames and passwords for vendors that could be used to place fraudulent orders for companies like Apple and Microsoft.

Swagg Security said that it was “considerably disappointed” with the inhuman working conditions at Foxconn, although that did not appear to be the main reason for the hack.

It said that it was a hacktivist group but was a Greyhat organisation.

SwaggSec alleged that it had bypassed Foxconn’s firewall “almost flawlessly.” They dumped “most of everything of significance,” including usernames and passwords which “could allow individuals to make fraudulent orders under big companies like Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Intel, and Dell.”

According to Apple Insider, Foxconn administrators took down services.foxconn.com. SwaggSec said on Twitter it guessed “you guys made one too many orders”.

We had been expecting more hacks to target Foxconn after Apple fanboys the New York Times started to question if the company was an Apple sweatshop.

Today, protesters are expected to hold a demonstration outside of Apple’s Grand Central Terminal store. They will hand out petitions calling for Apple, one of Foxconn’s biggest clients, and Foxconn to improve working conditions.