A Job For Life?

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On the 22nd of April 2013, I noticed some reactions on Twitter to an article written by Aditya Chakrabortty for the Guardian. Please do read his article before the rest of mine. It is not a secret that I am generally not a fan of most newspapers due to how opinionated they often are so I wasn't planning to write about it but over the past few days I have been mulling the article over and decided to share my views.

Young appmakers can't count on a job for life Brits force-fed the language of enterprise and no-jobs-for-life are now putting it into practice and getting precisely nowhere The title and sub-heading alone are enough to give me a bit of a gripe. Now, I should note that Aditya does have a point and it is something I have been saying for a few years now but it appears that he is targeting the blame at the wrong people and certainly makes a very bold statement in the title. What does he even mean by young app makers?

The article certainly focuses on mobile apps, although it only mentions Apple. It is not true that every app is on the Apple app store and it certainly is not definite that Apple will be the lead app store for the rest of the developer's life. Making apps, especially for one demographic, is never intended to be for life. In fact, I am sure that it is only the minority of people that want to work on the same project for their whole life anyway!

Aditya goes on to say that there is a lot of money in apps but only focuses on the big deals. Sure Instagram sold for a billion dollars and there have been hundreds of other massive deals, but who cares about that? A job for life doesn't have to make you a millionaire, does it? The majority of 'appmakers' are either working on their own projects (which may or may not be successful.. it really doesn't matter) or getting a good wage. Oh and guess what? The people working on their own apps can always find work in one of the many places that are looking for employees.

I would like to take note of the term 'appmakers'. That is not really a term. What is an app maker? There are three roles that Aditya might mean, he might mean all three as one person perhaps? Those roles are: developer, designer, entrepreneur. If Aditya means that entrepreneurs do not have a job for life, then I can see where he is coming from. But the people who make the apps are the developers, often with a lot of help from the designers. These people do have jobs for life.

This is quite close to my heart, because I have often thought about what I will do if I lose my hands (I have bad RSI) etc. That is quite extreme but it got me thinking… what are developers and designers? Not all designers are developers and not all developers are designers. But when you reduce it down to who we are, all designers and developers are problem solvers. A developer experienced with making an iPhone app in Objective C can quite quickly learn to make an Android app in Java. A designer can solve their problems in photoshop or on a napkin with a pen. Problems are solved by problem solvers, not by the tools of the trade. So developers and designers can jump into all kind of jobs, with ease. If you are a designer or a developer, you have a job for as long as you want a job. An 'app maker' can very easily be a 'web maker' or any type of maker you can think of.

I think that it is likely we are in some kind of app bubble... but the idea of the people behind the apps not being able to keep doing what they love? No.

In this world of endless recessions where the media is always moaning about the lack of jobs and that too many are unemployed… surely we should be encouraging more people to get involved with technology rather than saying that it is basically a waste of time. That especially goes for the 'young appmakers' that the article is about, it is better to try something and learn than either sit back and do nothing or working in McDonalds. Learn by making your own ideas. Once you have learned, you can get a very well paid job with any number of companies.

Please discuss your thoughts in the comments, twitter or on Hacker News. Do you have a job for life? Do you even want the same job for the rest of your life?