Local News

IBM Job Cuts May Not Be All Bad News

Posted December 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— IBM's effort to downsize its workforce is hitting home in the Triangle. A portion of Big Blue's 13,000 employees in the Research Triangle Park are going home with pink slips.

In October, IBM offered to buy out some employees. The company will not say how many employees accepted the plan, but says some cost-cutting lay offs are unavoidable. Even though unemployment is low in the Triangle, high-tech workers are at a premium.

It's a worldwide effort by IBM to streamline. Tuesday, the company started laying off employees in its local networking hardware division. News like this is usually bad news for the local economy, but it's not today, not in this job market.

Big blue is being tight lipped about how many employees will be laid off and how many will take a company buy-out offer. For the employees who are asked to leave, job consultants say they shouldn't be jobless very long.

"I wouldn't lose any sleep," explains technology consultant Robert Caulfield. "There's a lot of companies hiring people. There is a candidate shortage."

Experts say the news that IBM is beginning its local layoffs should be balanced with another part of the paper, the classifieds. One look inside and you'll find loads of companies looking for information technology professionals

According to Caulfield, there are twice as many openings than people coming out of college. That's how serious the information technology market is.

Many employees will stay at IBM in a different position. IBM says the total number of employees at their RTP facility should stay about the same. IBM has shuffled its deck before, and it will happen again. But in a technology job market that is very pro-applicant, workers shouldn't be worried as long as they stay current with their job skills.

Many companies are using contractors to fill jobs, that way the company doesn't have to pay for employee benefits. But there are so many contractors looking for qualified applicants now that most of them offer their own benefits package to attract new help.

The bottom line: if you're in the information technology profession, you're in the hottest profession around.

IBM's layoffs are part of a company-wide downsizing. Monday between 450 and 500 workers in Charlotte realized they'd no longer be with big blue.

This current work force reduction isn't as large as the one in the early 90's. Four years ago, 63,000 employees were laid off or agreed to the company's buy-out plan.