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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hard Finding Good Developers / Designers

I just saw a post by Karl Kapp that discusses the fact that there's a shortage of IT professionals. Some facts he cites:
  • In September 2006, IT employment stood at 3,667,100 up 4.2% from 2005 (an all time high)
  • 79 percent of IT workers work in IT-reliant companies (health care and financial services, industries enabled by IT but not focused on IT)
  • From 2000 to 2004, the number of incoming US undergraduates planning to major in Computer Science dropped by 60%.
  • Estimated 1.5 million new computer and IT related job opening between 2002 and 2012

Based on my personal experience in hiring people in Los Angeles and based on the complaints of my fellow members of the Los Angeles CTO Forum, this already has real impact on us. We simply can't find people to fill positions. And off-shore is not always appropriate. I've talked about this issue before in: Computer Science Dying in the US?


Anonymous said...

And yet, my husband (a consummate and highly regarded IT professional) has been trying to find another job for about 6 years without success. He seldom even manages to secure an interview. We are convinced that it's due to his age, and we have strong (but deniable, circumstancial) evidence to back this up. Even though it is no longer legal to discriminate by age in the UK and CVs no longer carry a person's DoB, it's fairly easy to figure out an applicant's age based on when they finished school/university and how many years' working experience they have.

If there are jobs going in the US (particularly in California, most especially in San Francisco - if I have anything to say about it!), he would jump at the chance, so let us know... anyone want his CV? !-)))

Ewan McIntosh said...

We're holding a BarCamp in Scotland ( to try and show some of our coders and programmers their worth and get them thinking more along the lines of the business potential in their skills. We want to keep some of them here, of course, but we already export a good few programmers to the states. Hopefully this event will bring a few more to surface.

Anonymous said...

I find that so hard to believe. I'm 25 and in grad school for software engineering. I'm currently a web developer, and that's my passion if I were to have one. With the way these services keep popping up all over the place, I can't imagine the CS undergrad rates dropping by 60%. In a way, that's kind of depressing, because software isn't going anywhere, and neither is the web.

Tony Karrer said...

Karyn - the age thing is an interesting issue, especially in software. Often, young developers have acquired programming experience in relevant languages and are willing to work at considerably lower wages. At the same time, if you can handle immigration and are willing to cover relocation costs, then you should start posting on Dice, Monster, etc. Likely he'll get inquiries.

Tony Karrer said...

Ryan - it's likely the case that this will swing back the other way based on all that's happening. It has gone back and forth several times since the late 70s. Defense spending in the US and the advent of the PC pushed up enrollments in early 80s. They went down with Defense spending. They went way up with the dotcom boom. They went down with the bust and off-shoring.

It often takes a while for enrollments to catch up to needs. Of course, right now, there's a question of the long-term effect of off-shore programming on wages for developers, so hard to tell if we'll get a bounce based on all the Web 2.0 stuff.

Anonymous said...

Tony - Your points are well made. However, perhaps the problem is that my husband has now "moved up" in the world into IT management.

We've dealt with the business of immigration before, when we moved to the UK from South Africa nearly 8 years ago. It's no joke, but we would probably do it again if we thought it would turn out to be worth it. However, moving to the States is not an easy task with all the business of green cards and stuff!

Karl Kapp said...

I think the main jobs in IT will not be with IT companies but with companies that are IT reliant...yes we will always have some IT-centric companies that will need on shore programmers (no matter what shore) but, more critically we will need programmers who also know medical terms, or who know mapping or who know learning, or who know electronics or who know insurance or bioinfomatics.

It seems to me that "integration" is key to long term employability. Programmers who know programming and... are the ones who will be needed.

Karyn, I wouldn't be suprised about an age bias, it does seem to exist in IT. Also, sometimes when someone "moves up" to management, it becomes hard to go back to programming, the languages change so fast...has he considered teaching at a local college or trade school...that is a great way to make contacts with potential employers...especially in a field like IT which is always changing.

Tony Karrer said...

Karyn - I tend to agree with Karl that its very helpful to have domain specific knowledge. It's funny that you called it IT Management as well. If it was VP Engineering or VP Development, then there is lots of demand for that. Pure IT Management (less development and more infrastructure) is less in demand right now.

And, immigration, green cards, etc. is hard right now, but possible.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Trying to picture my husband teaching. Nope. Blank. Not gonna happen. Besides - it would mean a HUGE pay cut. Teaching is not known for its excellent remuneration! But thanks for taking the time to offer suggestions, Karl.

He moved out of programming a long time ago, into systems design, then into management. The details are a deep, dark mystery to me: I'm a bit clueless about his world. I guess if I were more knowledgeable I would be able to say what kind of IT manager he is...!-)