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IT Talent Shortage: Ugly Truths
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Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
11/8/2014 | 4:35:06 AM
Re: IT Talent: Ugly "Realities"
"And you think that is right, just 'market forces'?"

I agree with your sentiment, Terry. I'm often dismayed by the way that phrase is bandied about to cover all manner of sins. Some discussions of "market forces" have merit, of course. But there's a significant difference between the notion of "free market capitalism" that most of us would support and the actual implementation of "free market capitalism" at work in our economy.

It's true that the global economy is more competitive, that people can't be complacent with their skills and need to frequently evolve, etc.-- but there are also a lot of bad actors and emotional actors that mess things up. To pretend these things are "natural forces" in the popular sense of the term is patently disingenuous. This is veering a bit of the IT talent shortage topic, but the continued existence of high frequency trading alone makes me certain that most people who praise "free markets" have no idea how the economy actually works. I defy anyone to explain to me how "dark pools" are anything more than a mechanism for freezing most people out of the market, and for allowing some financial institutions to discretely profit by working against their clients' best interests. Moreover, if you want to fully describe the ways in which the economy is artificially constructed and abstracted from any notion of actual value added, HFT is only one of many places you can look. So often, the notion of "market forces" is applied in the service of either blind faith or political duplicity. Complicated topics demand complicated discussions with many shades of gray, not the sort of "free market" jingoism that seems so popular in certain crowds-- such as the ones that include many of the people who benefit from the current trends.

To redirect to Terry's point, some people like to argue that the Lexuses and luxury boats to which Terry refers are necessary because extraordinary people need to be motivated by extraordinary perks. That's undeniably true to an extent. I personally have no problem with the CEO making many times more money than his or her employees. But there's a breaking point for any model; in some industries, we're at the point where at least some of the perks for CEOs amount to redundant indulgence, which is problematic in and of itself, and only grows more so when the vast majority of people are denied perks of any kind. In other words, any attitude that says "the CEO only cares about his bonus and that's okay" raises a real problem over time. As wealth continues to concentrate among fewer individuals, general employees are forced to become fiercely competitive, and, if the concentration of wealth continues unabated, to finally conclude that because the competitive landscape offers so few opportunities, they have no incentive to continue buying in. I want to tread carefully here-- certainly, today's U.S. economy, however broken in its infrastructure, still supports a degree of upward mobility, particularly for people willing and able to invest in the most-demanded new tech skills. But if you extrapolate the last three decades' worth of economic activity over the next thirty years, what do you think the social and economic attitude will be for CEOs who value their bonuses above all else? Even if you don't project as extremely as, say, Thomas Piketty (who forecasts that inheritance will become the primary way in which wealth is accrued), I think it's hard to conclude that the economic outlook dwatkins describes is viable in the long run.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
11/8/2014 | 12:16:53 AM
Re: more on the IT Talent Shortage; it is a Leadership shortage
I have heard many times as well that it doesn't matter what your skills are, if you have a good network and connections you can find a job very easily.  I really think the system is broken. I have seen many good and talented people having a really tough time gaining employment at this time.  These days being a lone wolf has become the norm.
crush801
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crush801,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2014 | 8:30:34 PM
You get what you pay for
The problem has NEVER been not enough talent.  The problem is companies refusing to pay for what decent talent is worth.  I have interviewed "senior developers" with only 5 years of experience.  They really know code and syntax, but have absolutely no clue about the other 2/3 of the job.  Give me an experienced developer trained in the US or Europe any day and that one head can out-perform 3 heads from a "low cost" area almost every time.  The schools in the low cost areas just aren't trainig software engineers.  They're training coders.  I can teach my wife to code.  I can't teach her to be a software engineer.  There's a huge difference and a lot of hiring managers, just focusing on the bottom line don't understand that.  Give me a team of real, experienced, software engineers and I can kick ass and get software done on time and under budget.  Give me what passes for software engineers these days and I'm going to add at least 50% to my estimates and then cross my fingers.
Thomas Claburn
IW Pick
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/7/2014 | 6:04:11 PM
Re: IT Talent: Ugly "Realities"
>We live in a capitalistic marketplace and despite its drawbacks, it's still the best in the world.

Certainly if you're an owner of capital; if you're an employee, you might be better off in Denmark, Germany, or some country that worries about the health, welfare, and education of its citizens.
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2014 | 1:39:09 PM
Re: IT Talent: Ugly "Realities"
Does anybody every told you that you don't have a nice personallity?
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2014 | 1:36:40 PM
It's all about profit
CEOs need to show profit to collect bonus. That's all they care. If they can get a foreign worker does the job at 2/3 of the price, they do it in a heart beat.

MSFT is just an example. MSFT stock price is going up that keeps lots of rich people,shareholders happy but not the people MS are laying off. The main reason is to get the stock price out of doldrum. Share price goes up at worker expense.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2014 | 1:33:00 PM
Re: IT Talent: Ugly "Realities"
@dwatkins Here is another ugly reality: Customers don't want to pay for your Lexus or luxury boat either. What an ego you have. At least those of us in IT have some technical skill and business process skills. I can count the CEO's I've seen in my 30 years who actually added value on one hand. You are like politicians, when variables in the market and business you have no actual control of happen to come together and generate profit for company, you take credit for it. When those variables go other direction, well it was factors out of my control.

You certainly have no worries. CEO's are like coaches, they can fail and be fired many times but some other company hires them because they have "experience". Compare that to these people who are commenting with a long track record of success who are now locked out of the market for no reason of their own. Just be glad you have a job with no discernable skill that can become obsolete. Must be nice.

And by the way, we aren't all job hoppers. Like @DDURBIN, since 1985 I've worked for one company for 13 years and the one I'm at now for 13. Only reason I ever worked anywhere else is because an accomplished CEO like yourself managed to run the company out of business. I'm in the Key Managers bonus program here, I attend business strategy meetings, and I still write code. Yet I have no doubt I would have just as hard a time getting another job as these other people if I had to try. And you think that is right, just "market forces"?

Go back to reading Forbes or get a clue if you want to post here.
Steve Naidamast
IW Pick
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Steve Naidamast,
User Rank: Strategist
11/7/2014 | 1:24:01 PM
Re: IT Talent: Ugly "Realities"
"They want it cheap, and they want it bad."

So you are one of the CEOs that perpetuates all this crap.  Good for you! 

After you and your company build enough garbage systems for all those customers that don't give a rat's ass about quality eventually the niche you are working in will fall apart.  Well that doesn't matter as long as you have gotten your paycheck.

Well maybe you should try coming into our trenches and find out exactly what many of us are talking about before you start prattling about how our "prima donna" days are over with; not that I have met many such people in the field outside of the low-quality foreigners CEOs just like to hire for those customers that want everything so "cheap".

That is the problem with you business-types; you have no bloody idea what you are you talking about but you blather on anyway...
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2014 | 12:59:19 PM
Loyalty up never exceeds loyalty down
Never has and never will.  I consider myself fortunate that I'm still on my second real programming job 22 years after landing my first; but I also think my employer has benefited from keeping his productive employees (especially the technical staff) around long term.

 
sandy.schaeffer
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sandy.schaeffer,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2014 | 12:12:38 PM
Re: more on the IT Talent Shortage; it is a Leadership shortage
Indeed.  After putting the negative emotions behnd, I did some research on repositioning late in a professional career.  What I generally read was to take advantage of unique strengths that come from 'maturity'- such things as perspective, communication skills, mentoring, negotiation, and so forth. Ultimately, that advice worked for me.

I've always been pretty good at networking and was able to leverage my network to find new work. (The job postings route tends to be more of a waste of time in my experience than a source of opportunity.)  In the end, the work I found was: (a) a product of leveraging my network, (b) not posted on any HR page and (c) very dependent on my late-career skills, not my early career skills.  However, it's a contract job with no guarantee of permanence and w/o benefits.  I'm happy however, as the work is great.

In addition to my day-work, I also teach IT courses at the college level and advise my students who are on the front-end of their careers to begin immediately developing networking skills (and not the ones related to Cisco products).  They'll need it someday when they are no longer on the burning edge of marketability and able to jump immediately on the next bandwagon.  

My lament is what I see happening in the CIOs offices all too often - IT is shifting to a low-value, commodity service within the organization with less emphasis on creativity and innovation and more emphasis on just keeping the lights turned on.

Maybe we are better off as lone-wolfs with the flexibility to move on when it gets dull.

 
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