I'm OK, you're OK but what about Y2K?

Y2K fixes are the most important IT issue facing New Zealand business, right? So why has a Y2K solutions business closed down for lack of work, and why are experienced consultants finding it hard to hard to come by a contract in Auckland. One consultant says many companies don't see Y2K projects as being urgent, but are instead muddling through, doing it themselves, with 'the old Kiwi attitude'.

Work wanted: year 2000 workers — will consider anything.

Brian White of Auckland is keen to take on some Y2K work. White, who has more than 20 years' experience in the IT industry (in IBM mainframes, Cobol, Visual Basic, SQL, Oracle and online systems, (both IBM and Unix), contacted Computerworld after reading recently about the Y2K solutions company DateLine 2000 calling it a day because of a lack of work. "I've experienced the same thing," he says.

He's taken out adverts looking for work and asked around the industry, and is amazed at the lack of response in the two months he's been looking. "It's like the Auckland market's not taking it seriously."

White is hoping to be offered one job — but it would see him earning less than he would normally be on. "It's the rate I was actually on in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

White wonders whether there could be more chance of work in Wellington rather than Auckland. "The Auckland market doesn't seem to be recognising any shortage of skills."

This is confirmed by Ross Stewart, director from recruitment and Y2K company Wilson White. "I had one of the most senior Y2K project directors ring me up and say: ‘Why is there no work in New Zealand? I'm going to England'."

He says that in Auckland he has 270 people who want to do Y2K work. Lawyers Wilson White has on tap to give specialist Y2K legal advice haven't had one enquiry. "There's a lot of resource available untapped in New Zealand. I agree with Brian totally."

He says many companies don't see Y2K projects as being urgent, but are muddling through. "They're doing it themselves — it's the old Kiwi attitude."

Ron Hunter, director of Mercury Consulting Group in Wellington, says demand isn't as strong there as it was six months ago but there is still a steady call for Y2K people.

He believes the industry might be coming toward the end of a "big boys" phase of working through Y2K problems. "And I believe the SMEs [small to medium-sized enterprises] haven't got the kind of money that the other chaps have been able to spend."

That could mean rates have to come down. He believes the smarter people are going to get out of contracting and get into permanant jobs.

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