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Good Help is Hard to Find


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#1 DavidRM   Members   -  Reputation: 270

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Posted 17 October 1999 - 07:07 AM

While some stories floating about the business world are obviously false (reduced productivity of workers, computer game publishers always losing money, and so on), some of them are actually legit.

There really *is* a shortage of trained programmers and other IT professionals. Though it would be a pleasant rumor to start if you're an IT professional and looking to raise your annual salary, that's simply not the case. While there is a huge increase in computer literate people, due to the increased number of households with PCs (and a couple with Macs), that doesn't mean these computer savvy individuals have the first clue about creating quality software. Enrollment in computer science and MIS programs is down from what it was in the late 1980's in nearly all universities, though it has recently begun to go up again.

I've done my time wading through mounds of resumes from unqualified applicants to professional programmer and other IT positions. Sometimes the companies I've worked for have had to lower certain expectations and remove requirements just to be able to find *somebody* they can hire. They still needed the person they couldn't find, but they had to make do with what they had available. This, BTW, is why the importance of an actual degree is waning, at least in the short term. There are more jobs than trained professionals, so applicants with insufficient training but that seem trainable are becoming more valuable.

Good help will always be hard to find, especially in the IT world. It's just harder to find at the moment than it has been in a long time.

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DavidRM
Samu Games


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#2 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 13 October 1999 - 12:30 PM


Well, from someone on the other end of the rope, I find that
most employers, recruiters, etc. set their expectations too high.
They make it very difficult for entry-level prospects to enter
this professional IT field in the first place. The reason why it
seems there are a lot of job openings is not because there is a
shortage, but because all you IT professionals are jumping from
job to job, looking for a higher salary. There are plenty of
people out there with engineering degrees, but no one is biting.

I think the game industry is even harder to crack into, because
it is such a fast-pace business. If someone gave you 1 million
dollars to develop a game in less than 2 years, what would you do?
Hire a bunch of green college grads or look for the best people?

And I would guess the number of levels of management of a typical
game company is 0-1 levels, with no more than 10-15 people. This
hardly allows any room for growth or advancement. And it doesn't
allow room for new people. The only way to grow or advance is to
quit and find another job.

Maybe if more people in the IT industry start taking on the role of
providing training to new people, regardless of related experience
or professional qualifications, they will get their positions filled.
But since it requires precious time and money, I doubt it will happen
more often.

GoWest


#3 DavidRM   Members   -  Reputation: 270

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Posted 13 October 1999 - 02:13 PM

In most companies, they want to fill the open position with the guy who just vacated it. This is a trend unlikely to go away anytime soon.

I won't disagree that sometimes they set their requirements too narrowly, insisting on some obscure bit of experience or training that could be picked up in a few weeks of hands-on training. But at the same time, companies who shovel out cash to get the employee trained really *hate* seeing that same employee use that training to get a better-paying job down the street. It bugs them. That this situation exists, and is relatively common, goes back to the shortage of IT professionals.

I also won't disagree that a lot of IT professionals make a career out of job-hopping. But that doesn't take away jobs so much as it opens them up. None of these job-hoppers voluntarily jump *down*...they're hopping *up*. So the position they are vacating requires fewer skills and less training than the one they're taking. So it's doubtful that this behavior is raising the bar on individuals who want to "break into" the IT world. Look at it as people making room for you. If there were no shortage of people to fill open positions, where in hell are all these people going?

The game development industry is a tough nut to crack because it's the current Location of Choice. They have more applicants than positions, a rare situation in the overall IT universe. This allows them to do 2 things: (1) Pick and choose exactly who they want; and (2) pay the rest peanuts. It's not so much conspiring to keep the entry-level programmer down as it is gleefully taking advantage of a situation that favors them.

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DavidRM
Samu Games


#4 Niels   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 14 October 1999 - 01:18 AM

Though I haven't tried, I feel certain that landing a job in the games industry would take me little more than writing an application, however the pay sucks - I can make at least twice as much writing business apps (or, heaven forbid, beeing a consultant). So I believe that sooner or later game companies too will discover that "good help is hard to find"...

Anywayz, I keep games development as a hobby until they start paying a decent salary !

/Niels


#5 AnotherBigYapper   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 14 October 1999 - 01:57 AM

Well said, GoWest. The well-hyped media hoax that there is a shortage of technology workers falls flat on its face under more intense scrutiny.

I also agree that this well-financed agenda has little to do with the fictional unavailability of talented, trainable programmers. It's all about helping the bottom line of Big Tech Corporations. How does the fat-cat squeeze additional profits out of his "dot.com" business? Gotta keep that bloated stock flying at 18 billion times year 2005 earnings, after all!

Once everything else is cut to the bone, there's only one thing left: the fat-cat has got to attack wages. Dismayed at the cost of relocating the whole business to India, he has no hope of just moving the factory or plant overseas (the method traditionally employed to destabilize the workforce in the rust belt)... so the traditional method of squeezing workers doesn't fly. Gotta attack it the other way, bring lower-wage folks in from outside to displace our own workers.

Regarding the much touted lack of "qualified" IT workers. Yes, it's true. There is a lack of people with Ph.D's in Computer Science with 10 years of senior system analyst experience who are willing to work for $7.95 an hour. Yes, I admit it. That really is true, and THAT is the nature of the "problem".

Do you think Billy™ would like to get you to write excellent software for him and pay you $5.25 an hour to do it? You bet your sweet opcodes he would, baby.


#6 DavidRM   Members   -  Reputation: 270

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Posted 14 October 1999 - 11:27 AM

How a scarcity of people to fill a position, thus raising the wages that must be paid to those who are found to fill that position, is considered a cost-cutting measure by Evil Big Business is beyond me.

But I'll let it go... ;-)

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DavidRM
Samu Games


#7 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 15 October 1999 - 08:11 AM

Well, good help that's _cheap_ is hard to find. I work in Silicon Valley (my day job is with a large consumer electronics firm) and experienced local talent is both rare and expensive. Grads are asking around $70K to start, and when the company can import H1 workers to do the less-complex stuff for less than that (and not have to worry about 'em running off to a startup for stock options - H1 workers aren't really free to change jobs at will) guess what happens? With the games business, it's worse - like has been said, for every position you have a dozen applicants and most don't have any real experience, making them ideal candidates for slave labor. Of course, it's pretty much just "paying your dues" as in any entertainment-related field...

IMNSHO...


#8 AnotherBigYapper   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 15 October 1999 - 11:04 PM

DavidRM, I clearly stated that there is no scarcity.

The reason why we are being told there is a scarcity is because "they" want to cut the wages of currently employed programmers.

The H1-B law is exactly on point, that's what this is really all about. One case of interest: Mention H-1B visas to Linda Kilcrease, a New Jersey-based
programmer, and she sees red.

In 1994, Kilcrease and the 250-strong information systems
department of insurance firm American International Group Inc. was fired and
replaced with foreign workers brought in on H-1B visas by the outsourcing
service Syntel Inc. The H-1B visa is a "specialty occupation" visa offered
annually by the U.S. to 65,000 foreign workers. "Before we left, they made us
train our replacements at our own desks," says Kilcrease, who now actively
lobbies against the H-1B program.

Also: ...Syntel, which because of its contract with American
International, was slapped with a hefty fine by the Department of Labor for
paying its computer programmers from India wages 20% below the legal
standard. Other H-1B critics say the number of visas is rising 10 times faster
than the growth rate in IT jobs. Still others point out the low hiring rates —
about 2% of all software applicants — and moderate wage increases, which
stood at 7% last year.

FULL TEXT OF THE STORY CAN BE READ AT: http://computerworld.idg.com.au/globalinnovators/feb1999/view.html


#9 Niels   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 16 October 1999 - 04:35 AM

If this big evil empire really had the power to tell us anything but the truth in this matter, wouldn't they gain more from telling us that there were way too many IT people, so we would get scared of loosing our jobs and thus accept a lower pay?

Fortunately, I work for a small company that pay os what we're worth.. And that's nice for a change !

/Niels


#10 AnotherBigYapper   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 16 October 1999 - 09:13 PM

That's a good question, Niels. The answer is that you and I are not the targets of this misinformation campaign.

The information is being directed at the US Congress as part of a well synchronized lobbying effort, backed by the likes of Bill Gates and other heavy hitters in the IT industry.



#11 Niels   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 October 1999 - 07:07 AM

Oh, It's a conspiracy... Hm, I wonder how they managed to extend it all the way to Denmark.

/Niels





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