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Why would anyone think being a "code monkey" has a future?
At the beginning of the 19th century, 80 to 90 percent of the population in Western countries was employed in agriculture; today, it's about 2 percent to 3 percent. Ask yourself, do people in the West worry about famine or obesity in the 21st century? We use machinery and technology, not animal and human labor.

The same pattern holds for the 20th century — we have fewer people in the manufacturing industries and a higher output than ever before. We do the design work in America and ship the fabrication overseas.

Why would anyone think that being a "code monkey" has a future? Right now, the educational system is putting out two extremes. There are the academic computer scientists on one end. They're all theory and no practice or experience in a commercial environment.

The other extreme are the kids with a certification. They can answer "Trivial Pursuit" questions about their programming language, but they can't analyze, document, perform quality assurance, or understand a business problem. The estimate is that it takes two years for new developers just to be worth their salary to a company. And most of them leave between the first and second year.

The future for IT is the same as it was for agriculture and manufacturing. For us, the particulars are new technologies and model-driven architecture. Any detail work can go to the developing nations.

Joe Celko [[email protected]] is vice president of RDBMS at North Face Learning in Salt Lake City and author of five books on SQL.