Career watch – March 8, 2004

James Ditmore

Title: Chief technology officer, infrastructure and operations

Company: BankOne Corp., Chicago

What he does: Ditmore joined BankOne in 2001, the year the US$270 billion bank holding company adopted its ongoing IT insourcing strategy, after jettisoning a US$1.4 billion outsourcing deal with AT&T Corp. and IBM. In the past two years, BankOne has hired more than 2,100 IT professionals, at a time its competitors were reducing head count and/or sending IT jobs offshore. Ditmore, formerly CIO at Ameritrade Holding Corp., hired many of these new IT employees into his group.

Q: What specific IT skills have you been hiring? Where is your greatest need for IT professionals?

A: We’ve been hiring IT skills pretty much across the board, with a large number of individuals hired into infrastructure and operations. I would say the greatest need has been application development, specifically people with (IBM) WebSphere, database and Internet development skills.

Q: Experts say business-specific knowledge makes an IT professional all the more valuable. What can workers in IT do to learn more about the company’s operations outside of IT?

A: If you (support) a brokerage, for example, there are a number of certifications you can get. You can also become a certified financial planner. There’s a lot of (financial services) industry-specific training available at local community colleges and through industry associations.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the kinds of jobs most likely to be outsourced?

A: Application maintenance.

Q: What are the jobs least likely to be outsourced?

A: Unix administration, because the servers are here in the U.S. It’s not absolutely necessary, but you typically have your Unix engineers where your servers are. These servers aren’t likely to move offshore because then you run into significantly more risk and more regulatory issues, and you introduce application latency that you might not otherwise have.

— Julia King

Passport to advanced IT training

MetLife Inc., Allstate Corp. and Citigroup Inc.’s Citi Card unit are among the U.S. companies earmarked to receive federal dollars to provide high-level training to U.S. workers for IT jobs now held by foreign workers employed in the U.S. under H-1B visas. Under a US$6 million grant, which will be administered by the Computing Technology Industry Association, a global trade association, more than 2,600 American IT workers in 12 states will receive advanced IT job training in the coming months. Allstate will train 907 incumbent IT workers in Illinois, Ohio and Texas in systems administration, programming and Web applications. MetLife will train 600 Web designers, Web developers, network architects and application developers — all jobs that have been typically filled by H-1B workers, according to the company. To learn more about the H-1B training grants, which are supported by user fees paid by employers who hire IT professionals under the H-1B visa program, go to

— Julia King

Numbers crunch

* 15 per cent of companies that employed H-1B visa workers in 2003 will discontinue their use in 2004. H-1B visas allow foreign professionals in specialty occupations to work temporarily in the U.S.

* 14 per cent of companies that employed workers with L-1 visas will discontinue their use in 2004. L-1, or intracompany, visas allow companies to temporarily transfer key foreign employees from operations abroad into operations within the U.S.

* 56 per cent of employees with H-1B visas come from India, and the second largest source of H-1B workers is China.

* 38 per cent of employees with L-1 visas come from the U.K., the largest source of L-1 visa workers in the U.S.

Source: Culpepper and Associates Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.

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