This Oregon County is Desperate for Tech Talent

Map of Oregon

Tech businesses in the Eugene-Springfield, Ore., area are having trouble finding the professionals they need to expand. They’re looking for a range of skills including Web development, DevOps, Java development and UI design. The companies vary in size from Symantec, with 1,400 employees and 90 openings at its facility in Springfield, to smaller businesses including Web and mobile developer Concentric Sky, real estate tech firm IDX and small business product developer Palo Alto Software.

Map of Oregon“When I think of the tech companies here in town that I’m familiar with … almost all of them are hiring,” Cale Bruckner, Vice President of Concentric Sky, told the Eugene Register-Guard.

Some 400 tech companies make their home in Lane County, says the Register-Guard, employing more than 4,000 people. Data from the state of Oregon says those companies hired at least several hundred workers between 2012 and 2013, and more hiring is expected. Average tech salaries there were $63,495 in 2012, the state says. That compares to an overall wage of $37,617. In Portland, about 100 miles north, the average salary for technology workers was $84,295 in 2013, according to the Dice Salary Survey.

The lack of potential candidates is the tech industry’s “biggest brake,” says the Register-Guard. That’s spawned a number of efforts to get the word out about Lane County as a great place to work. They include the local tech industry group Silicon Shire, which has created an “Ambassador’s” program designed to evangelize the region both beyond its borders and among local college graduates.

“There are so many companies here that are under the radar because their target audience isn’t in their backyard,” said Jake Weatherly, who runs the local startup SheerID. “So they have offices in kind of weird locations without big signs, and they have high-octane teams reaching out to the world from Eugene, Oregon.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Comments

22 Responses to “This Oregon County is Desperate for Tech Talent”

February 10, 2014 at 11:45 am, Jeff Smith said:

Stories like this drive me crazy! If there are 100,000 BlahBlahBlah programmers and industry needs 105,000 BlahBlahBlah programmers, 5,000 of those jobs need to be filled by people who are not experienced BlahBlahBlah programmers. Employers seem to think that every new computer language is something magical that programmers who have programmed with other languages can never master and that if they can’t lure experienced BlahBlahBlah programmers from other US companies than they need to borrow them from Indian companies.

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February 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm, John said:

I come to this site in hopes of finding useful information. Who is the stuff written for? Certainly not for tech people. We know that this stuff is nonsense. So, who reads this stuff and believes it?

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February 12, 2014 at 10:23 pm, oregon111 said:

that is because it takes TIME to learn a new language and the new tools that go with it…

yeah, go learn ALL the java tools in a day – cant be done — you’re too slow — you’re fired!

THAT is why they only hire those with experience in what they use – they refuse to train, they refuse to give you time to get up to speed — FACT

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February 13, 2014 at 11:44 am, JT Klopcic said:

Maybe not a day, but you can start from zero and have a Java MVC app running on Linux in the cloud over the course of a weekend. I did — it’s not that hard.

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February 10, 2014 at 12:32 pm, Fred Bosick said:

The companies hiring should come to the DICE blog network, read the articles about Dell and IBM laying off people, and then try to hire them. Alternatively, if the present ads with requirements aren’t working, reduce the requirements and/or raise the rates on offer.

It’s a Tragedy of the Commons, and they need to bring fewer sheep to the grass. Bringing in less nutritious hay bales(H-1B) is only a stopgap measure. States and counties give taxbreaks to entice business all the time. Maybe it’s time to entice *people*.

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February 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm, Jim said:

I cannot pump my own gas in Oregon, so it’s pretty unlikely I would move there.

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February 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm, Cicuta said:

Hey Jim…don’t forget that companies no longer re-locate. It is swim or sink!

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February 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm, Cicuta said:

You guys are correct…It is all a bunch of bull. The scarcity of technical people in the USA will diminish to zero and all thanks to greedy companies that want slaves instead of savvy people and hence they go to India pool of job seekers who want to come to the USA. So, why do they complain about? All they need to do is contact a recruiter in India and continue bringing those slaves; meanwhile, young people in the USA will stop going to college for a technical degree or even having a 2 weeks certification. The Oregon is a very good example of where the USA is going with the help of Congress.

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February 10, 2014 at 10:31 pm, Jorge said:

Mr. Feffer:

You should challenge those companies to post the job requisitions somewhere public and also post the number of applicants to each job in pseudo-real-time. Post applicants’ resumes too if they consent.

You would think that if companies are having such a painful job finding the right applicants they would go out of their way to highlight the “hard to fill” positions on a dedicated web page or discussion forum. I say “let us help.” Let the community of STEM experts match job seekers to job openings, bypassing the ATS and HR departments.

I’m not talking about something as simple as forwarding “we need javascript programmers” emails. I want to see the whole job requisition on company letterhead (or logo) with an identifying number. And I want to know the funding status for the position as well.

So many companies (in engineering) claim to have a shortage of talent. Then when a qualified candidate *is* screened, the funding for the position magically disappears. Or the job is cancelled. Or the application ends up in the black hole. Or the opening was really for an internal candidate.

It’s sickening. And employers should note that the BS is pretty easy to spot– especially by those who are familiar with the type of work the employers are “trying” to recruit for. By keeping the same reqs open for years, unchanged, they make themselves look sleazy, or at best incompetent. Why would a professional apply to a position with a company that has been posting the same req for three years? Or a company that can’t keep a position filled? Or a company that doesn’t respond to applications? We can all appreciate the irony of having a company say they can’t find candidates, only to have the same company not bother to respond to those who did apply.

Sure there are niche positions that might demand the occasional “purple squirrel.” But when you can’t fill programming positions for web development and user interface designs? That just screams incompetence and dishonesty. But then again, maybe that’s why nobody wants to work for them.

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February 13, 2014 at 11:39 am, JT Klopcic said:

If they can’t fill their positions in web development, they won’t be around for very long. Companies ARE hiring, at least on the East Coast. I know a half-dozen recruiters who will pay me thousands of dollars in “finder’s fees” if I can just provide them with a name of a developer who they can move into a new position. Unfortunately, everyone I know has a job!

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February 11, 2014 at 1:46 am, Bob said:

I’m sick of the tech industry. I have about 10 years Java experience, a computer science degree, and a Java certification. I looked at 50 Java jobs in my area (California) and I was only qualified for 2, neither of which I’ve heard back from. I counted 25 technologies that are considered “must-haves” on today’s latest Java job posting. I only had about 5 or 6 of those “must-haves”. Most of the other jobs I’ve looked at are similarly out of reach.

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February 13, 2014 at 11:33 am, JT Klopcic said:

Have you looked at the Baltimore / DC market? Java guys with 10 years of experience are in very short supply.

My experience has been that the “must haves” are really “nice to haves”. Get a good recruiter who will pitch you to the right hiring managers. And, if you don’t have experience in the latest Java buzzwords, get yourself a free AWS account and build some tutorial apps. You can get Tomcat up and running in an single evening, and then build a demo MVC app over a weekend. In a week or two, you will have a nice showcase website that you can put on your resume. It’s not that hard!

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February 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm, scott franco said:

So I read the article with interest, because moving to OR is something that interests me. Doing a search using a 40 mile circle on Eugene, OR (which includes Springfield), and no other filters, I get exactly 20 technical positions on Dice.

From this, and from the average salary of $63,495 from the story above, might we assume that:

1. The companies in that area might be desperate, but not desperate enough to advertise the positions.

2. Similarly, that desperation does not translate to improved pay (law of supply and demand).

What did I get wrong here?

Scott

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February 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm, Anne Rachel Ngo Mbenga said:

You guys are very right. Tech companies and Schools of engineering in the USA, are no longer interested in savvy students and workers. They are only interested in cheap labor. Schools of engineering, bring students from India, Vietnam, China etc, who are on scholarship. They would give them straight ”A” to maintain their scholarships. Some go on to have Ph.d even though they are not capable of contructing a correct english sentence.

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February 11, 2014 at 8:34 pm, Jet Tilton said:

I am trying to transition into learning how to program IOS mobile apps, or back into web development (I’m 48)…I seem to hear these same sentiments on many forums, is there really no chance of finding a job in IT unless you are an HI-B? Or 21 years old?

What about any opportunities If I get A+ certification to start out?

Any advice would be helpful…

Jet

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February 12, 2014 at 10:27 pm, oregon111 said:

go elsewhere — IT jobs are as hard to get as astronaut positions — no lie

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February 13, 2014 at 11:25 am, JT Klopcic said:

Come out to the Baltimore / DC area. I’m 45, still building up my ASP skills, and I have job opportunities of $100k+ come my way all the time. In fact, I’m finishing up a contract at $105k to see if I can get more elsewhere. I don’t see why everyone complains so much about the tech job market — it’s red hot on the East Coast!

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February 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm, Jet Tilton said:

JT,
Your comment is probably the only positive one on this thread! What skills are the most demand right now ( i.e. capable of getting in the door or freelancing later on)
1. web development (HTML, CSS, Javascript, …)
2. mobile IOS programming
3. Microsoft Access skills
4. Comptia A+ skills?

Thanks
Jet in Dallas Fort Worth

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February 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm, JT Klopcic said:

Forget Access and Comp TIA – the big demand is for HTML5/CSS/JQuery, which is not too hard to pick up on your own if you have any graphics design ability. I have the artistic sense of a blind mole, so I focus mostly on front-end functionality and integration with the back-end stuff. Mobile IOS is another beast entirely — you’ll need to either master ObjectiveC or get to be really good at HTML5.

If you want to go the web design route, don’t worry too much about professional degrees or training. I’ve met dozens of great web designers with degrees in everything from behavioral psychology to music production. The important thing is to start designing Web pages and build up a nice portfolio. This is definitely one of those “learning by doing” careers.

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February 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm, Sunil said:

60k a year with minimum requirements of a masters degree from a top school and years of experience? These people are not desperate for talent, they are delusional.

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February 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm, Scott Franco said:

There is a GREAT article today in the Wall Street Journal covering the current airline pilot shortage.
Many low end airlines pay MINIMUM wage to their pilots. This seems like a joke, especially when it
takes years to just get qualified as a commercial pilot, and 100k training investment. Being a pilot is
something people want to do, not just want to get paid for. And the pay is better for advanced
pilots.

The airlines can’t get out from under this problem, because it is a very cost sensitive business, and they can’t afford to be the first ones to raise pilot salaries. So the bottom line is that it does not get better until it gets worse.

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February 13, 2014 at 6:58 pm, JT Klopcic said:

The airlines also have a ready-made source of trained pilots called the U.S. Military. Why invest in pilot training when the government does it for them?

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