What does the post-Y2K period hold for the programmers and other techies now slaving away to beat that immovable deadline?

Many will have already gone back to the worker-starved general technology industry before the year 2000 is even rung in, experts said.

The information technology field has more than 340,000 unfilled jobs, according to a study by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts new jobs in the field will come on line at the rate of 130,000 a year for the next decade.

"Everybody in 'year-2000' is looking forward to doing something else," said Bruce F. Webster, chairman of the Washington-based Y2K Group, a professional club for programmers working on the date change. "I think you're going to see a fair amount of attrition as soon as people leave year-2000 for more interesting work."

Some members of Y2K task forces are expected to stay on past the witching hour to exorcise unforeseen bugs-or complete any parts of the job left unfinished.

But few industry observers expect financial services providers to lay off people en masse. Year-2000 efforts have required so much budgetary and human-resources attention that other technology projects have suffered as a result.

"A lot of these people aren't going anywhere" after the debugging is complete, said Len Adams, executive vice president and chief operating officer of KPA Group, a New York recruiting and consulting firm.

"So many companies have been spending all their IT budgets on the year 2000 that they haven't been upgrading their systems," he said. "They will still need these people to do all the things they should have been doing the last three or four years."

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