Update: Does Tech’s Labor Market Have a Structural Problem?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCP6qDG51dQ&w=560&h=349]

A mismatch between professionals’ skills and employers’ needs may be keeping joblessness high in the tech sector… The video game business keeps growing — especially mobile gaming… and Android gets even more more popular.

69 Responses to “Update: Does Tech’s Labor Market Have a Structural Problem?”

  1. What are the “tech skills” that employers cannot locate? Are those skills somewhere between what college students/graduates are being taught and the “legacy” skills possessed by the “older workers”? I should think colleges would teach what employers want, and/or older workers, with proven talent and ability, would be at least given an opportunity to demonstrate they are not stuck in the past.

      • Hogwash. You’d better get yourself an internship now, because it sounds like you are too lazy to pick up new skills on your own.

        If you aren’t too lazy, slap together some demos using some of the latest technologies that employers want instead of twiddling your thumbs for the next year.

      • Wow. You are so far off the mark it isn’t even funny.

        This “lazy” person began working the day after I turned 16. This “lazy” person was kicked out of the house by my trailer-trash, substance-abusing, welfare-cheating relatives the moment I turned 18. Good thing I’d already graduated high school. This “lazy” person became homeless — and clawed my way off the streets. This “lazy” person took whatever jobs I could, no matter how menial, and slowly obtained skills that let me get better jobs. This “lazy” person finally managed to go to college at age 29…and spent 11 years hacking away at the bachelor’s degree I didn’t have a chance to get when I was a homeless 18-year-old. I didn’t quit until I finished.

        This “lazy” person isn’t sitting around stuffing my face with ho-ho’s and watching “Law & Order” all day. I have been scrambling to get any kind of work that comes my way — marketing copywriting, web design, medical transcription, secretarial gigs, anything to earn $$$, all the while scrambling to carve out an alternative career path to tech.

        I do feel unemployable. But if nobody is going to give me a job, I will make my own. NO WAY will I end up like my trailer trash relatives, sucking off welfare, filing frivolous lawsuits and hoping maybe somebody with $$ will die and leave them everything. I am not like them. THEY are lazy. I am self-sufficient, self-supporting.

        Oh, and this “lazy” person also completed the P90X program. Twice. I’ve got to wait a couple of weeks before starting up Round 3. I’m also a runner. Oh, I know, you’ll say this doesn’t “count,” but most people can’t get through P90X once, and most cannot run 1/4 mile, let alone 5-7. Committing to hardcore fitness is most certainly NOT for the lazy.

        If you are representative of the type of individual who is successful in the tech field, I don’t want any part of it.

  2. Marland K.

    And why don’t companies hire experienced older workers at a lower salary and train them in the technology they are working in. Also, as an older worker, I’m thinking about going back to school and earning a second degree in Predictive Analysis, what do you think?


      • Oh please.

        “Hit the ground running” = must be as productive on Day 1 as an employee who has been with the company for 10 years. Purple squirrel, anyone?

        “Fit the culture” = must be 19 years old.

        To Marland: I absolutely would not go back to school. The biggest mistake of my life was going back to college. I have nothing to show for it except DEBT. Older graduates are viewed as trailer/ghetto trash with fancy-sounding degrees.

        Do not make the same mistake I did.

  3. Michael

    Another experienced worker chiming in here – I see this “structural” problem as employers taking advantage of a buyer’s market and expecting if not demanding huge and comprehensive skill sets that I find it difficult to believe anyone can legitimately claim. It’s like a job requiring applicants to fluently speak 10 foreign languages – if you happen to even find such a candidate, you’d better be prepared to pay a boatload for him. Experience, business acumen, communication skills, and judgement are devalued at the expense of specific technical knowledge that’s much easier to acquire than the attributes I mentioned. When you’re looking for perfection, of course it’s going to be difficult to find.

  4. Fred Bosick

    “Mark, I really wish you would be more specific. What tech skills are corporations talking about?”

    That is the key question! In a nation of 310 million people and the largest tech market in the world, it is utterly disingenuous for anyone to claim that there’s no one available with the right skillset. What *is* the problem for employers is that they cannot find these people at the rates they want to pay.

    Time to dust off the elementary econ books. You can get anything you want if you pay enough for it. Companies have gotten spoiled with the weak economy and H-1B Immigration. The cash needs to come out, sooner or later. An article posted on DICE earlier this week alludes to employers possibly being a little too demanding in their job ads. Might be worth looking into.

  5. J Smith

    So, exactly, what skills are missing? List them.

    I just don’t see it. If there was an actual shortage salaries would be increasing, but according to all legit data sources salaries are flat.

    • To share some personal experience … I worked in several R&D design centers for semiconductor manufacturers. The story is often the same.

      To increase profits, they pursued one basic strategy … cut costs or get the government to pay for it. Mostly the cheapskates focused on cutting costs. Often these guys were determined street fighters when it came to cutting costs.

      I’ll focus on one anonymous company. An internal audit revealed that it cost ~$150 to get a purchase req approved for a $20 item. Just plain insanity.

      These guys went on a spree (in the mid to late ’90’s) opening design centers in emerging-market nations. They (senior management) would brow beat the American design centers about cost overruns and delayed product introduction while refusing to provide the resources needed for project success. When the situation became critical (i.e., too late to smoothly effect the outcome) they would approve personnel req’s or capital PR’s and say “get what you need – fast!”

      My team and I would update PR’s, ingest resumes, schedule interviews, and frantically follow an established, efficient, structured process to fill the skill and resource holes that existed. ne or to weeks later, now prepared to place orders or extend employment offers, the req’s were cancelled: “sales forecasts don’t look good for the quarter — we’ve got to cut costs.” I began calling it the “now you see it, now you don’t” phenomenon (just magic!).

      I lost count of how many times I went through this dance. It is classic project mismanagement and it doesn’t make much business sense either.

      The products designed in the American design centers contained few defects and even though there was an urgent demand to complete designs on schedule, the C-level executives continued to move design projects overseas. They didn’t seem to mind that the delivery schedules slipped in those centers by a factor of 3, or that design defects increased by a factor of 10. They were only paying the overseas designers 1/5th what they paid US designers and figured they could afford to redo the designs several times to reach “acceptable” quality (apparently liability issues were dismissed too) .

      Many (I think most) of the American design centers have since been sold to overseas multinational corporations or eliminated entirely.

      When I joined the company, the CEO set an ambitious goal to triple sales, market share and profitability within 5 years. It is now 10 years past that target date. Want to know how the company is doing? Their revenue (sales) is only 50% higher than when I first joined (it was about 250% higher at the height of the dot-com bust). The profit margins are stable – about what they were when I joined. However, their competitors continue to crush them with regard to market share they continue to lose ground.

      Anyone consider this a success story?

      And that’s one of the reasons the US is in trouble. It’s not self-interest … it’s blind ambition and selfishness. It’s lack of vision, courage, and virtue. I don’t care how many certificates or degrees a person possesses, without wisdom and integrity, disaster ensues.

      It’s a lesson for the C-level executives and all hiring managers in tech industries.

  6. Robert

    I have been looking for a job for about the last 2 weeks and i tell you its been harder than i originally thought. i have the following certifications: MCTS Exchange 2007, MCSA Windows 2003. Those might not be super high end but still they are certs.

    I have more than 8 years of experience and have even worked for a lvery large software company but still I look and there have been bites but no offers yet.

    I am continuing to look and i am confident that i will find something good… i am just concerned that the salary wont be what I am used to (75 ~ 85K). I seem to be fighting the “I know everything techs/engineers). I think hiring managers get confused by what they’re told…

    • I am appalled by the decision making and leadership skills of most hiring managers. I would attempt to document some of the selfishness and ineptitude of most occupiers of this role, but I would need to produce a document more voluminous than the US tax code (– it will take years to complete).

  7. twins.fan

    The skills in question are right in front of your face if you look at the GAO report that was recently published. Corporate America wants cheap entry level workers from the third world. That is the inescapable conclusion that you and the GAO has to reach if you look at the LCA data from the Department of Labor.

    US colleges and universities graduate students with the desired skills, if the students are from the third world. Otherwise, our entire education system needs to be reformed. That is the convoluted, contradictory, absurd logic being spread by corporate America.

    Face it. Bill Gates, Craig Barrett, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell have each made billions of dollars by reducing labor costs by hiring cheap entry level workers from the third world.

    • The successes were not only through cost reduction. There were plenty of product and service misrepresentations, exaggerations, bullying, and such that occurred, as well.

      Many of our modern “titans of Industry” seem to have no moral compass other than amassing personal fortunes and dictating to others.

  8. Employers are often looking for long lists of skills that don’t exist in one person, which usually means that they are trying to replace some highly skilled person who left because they weren’t appreciated. Many requisitions are written by HR types who don’t know what they are dealing with, and the resumes are often read by vendor management people who don’t know what they are dealing with. If they don’t see all the right buzzwords, they throw out the candidate. But they don’t know that many things with different names are similar and that people can learn. On top of that many employers expect people to walk on with expert skills in many areas, which is not realistic, and they don’t want to train their employees either. This is all compounded by 15-20 years of bringing in H1-B’s, which has caused a drastic drop off in enrollment in computer courses at many universities..

    • Jonathan

      ‘This is all compounded by 15-20 years of bringing in H1-B’s, which has caused a drastic drop off in enrollment in computer courses at many universities..’

      this I disagree. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to venture into computer courses.
      From my observation, the local, ‘US folks’ are more willing to step into project management or management, even if they have programming skills. Think of career, prestige etc and you will them lining up to have the management job. So if there is a lack of local engineering US graduates, don’t blame it on foreigners. They work hard to have that skill, if the locals want the same, they can do it also. You can bring the horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So the local must be willing to compete with the foreigners as well.

      • Jim F.

        “this I disagree. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to venture into computer courses.”

        The fact is if someone is bright enough to be able to become a good programmer then he or she is probably smart enough to become an attorney, an MBA, or even a doctor. When bright college students look at their likely career paths if they choose programming over possible professions, which option do you think they are going to pick?

        As long as salaries, treatment by employers, etc. remain sucky for programmers as they have been for the past decade or more, then few native born American students are going to choose to major in computer science.

  9. Companies are very reluctant to do any training. They want that candidate that knows everything, and will also work for the least amount of money. Go on a site like Odesk, and look up your skills. You will find people with TONS of good feedback and experience from overseas who will gladly work for $10-15-$20 tops dollars/hr. Even if they screw up, there is little risk in most cases if you allow for some extra time. Employees are a big liability and expense for a company – everything from sexual harassment lawsuits, benefits, office space, etc. So why not hire some outsourcing firm who will get the job done for a simple hourly rate? Even if they don’t hire the outsourcing firm, looking at that site devalues the IT professionals worth.

    There are no laws whatsoever to protect IT/programmers professionals. That is why we are being raped. For example. real estate (which requires no advanced skills) does not allow an unlicensed professional to get a commission (in some cases they can’t even rent an apartment). I would like to see tariffs on any work performed by overseas contractors. That would really level the playing field. Unfortunately IT people are not aggressive and businessminded so they are taken advantage of. The only real way I believe to succeed in IT is to go off on your own, and have others work for you.

    Also, What is “entry level” today? All entry level positions require 1-3(I’ve seen up to 5) years experience. And experienced positions want around 5-10-15 max years experience. Anything more or less than that could be a red flag. 15 years is around the 40yo mark, and they know they have to pay those workers more and older workers case premiums to rise. They also have baggage from years of corporate abuse. Why not get someone without all those issues?t

    Many jobs implicitly request younger workers. How many unemployed 40+ yo workers know ruby on rails or PHP after working in some big corporation for 10 years? They are going after people 5 or so years out of school, who had an internship or worked at some startup. So right here you are eliminating 100s of jobs. Could a very experienced programmer learn this in a month or two on the job? Definitely. But why should they bother.

  10. The structural mismatch is very real. Just look at your average .net job description. JQuery, Java, CSS, HTML5, nHibernate, Spring.NET, WPF, WCF, WWF, MEF, MAF, SQL Server…

    The demands of many companies are quite impractical and for the money they offer (versus the money generated from many IT systems) the pay is quite low. Most people find a niche within a larger group and become specialized. Sure, all of us have exposure in many areas, but that’s hardly ‘skills expertise’. For many technology stacks (e.g. WPF-WCF-Server 2008 R2-nHibernate-SQL Server) it can take years to learn how to correctly exploit everything it has to offer. Many of Microsoft’s new tools have what’s called a low entry bar. Meaning the technology is easy to pick up and the most common features are readily accessible to a very broad group of developers. But once you really start trying to push the technology (which is often required), you’re usually in for a steep learning curve.
    IT leadership in the corporate environment is just now, slowly, starting to recognize this. In order to run a shop effectively, you MUST have people very invested in specific technologies. If companies have a large enough budget they can splinter their product lines across different platforms. But most companies lack the budget to do that. Instead of trying to forecast the future of IT in their segment, many tend to take a position of “we’ll just hire people that can do everything”.
    Corporate IT will simply have to mature in this regard. As developers, I think we could be more obstanant about being asked to throw away years of experience for a ‘fad’. Whenever possible we should persuade corporations to play to their strengths (i.e. our skillsets).

  11. Wilson Charton

    The problem in corporate IT hiring is not with the candidates or the “labor market”. Corporate management and HR have no clue what software can do, what kind of people are needed to make it do that, and what those people will cost.

    A quick tip: If you are a company outside of the top 5 US tech cities, you can easily fill any tech position you want. You have to provide a top quality work environment and top pay. Don’t even think you can get a top programmer for less than $100k; that is the starting point. Your company will make 10 to 100 times what you pay the good programmer–but only if you know how to make the business decisions well and let the programmers make the technical decisions well.

    However–and this is critical–if your company has had average programmers creating and maintaining your systems for more than 5 years, you have a very big problem. Good programmers do not have magic wands to undo the damage. They cannot magically decipher the million duplicate payments and incorrect accounting data entered by thousands of users and stored in self-contradictory database rows. You spent $1M to make the quick Windows app but now need $10M to clean up and migrate the data. The top programmers will smell this problem and run away. Life is too short. The only option in this case is to admit to the multi-million-dollar mistake and clean it up. It was a bad investment and the creditors are a-comin’ knockin’. Of course, the problem can also be cleaned up by all your customers leaving, which is practically guaranteed. You played, you lost.

  12. Sure there is a mismatch, but there are plenty of smart and experienced people that could be retrained, but companies don’t want to pay for it. They want suitably experienced candidates to appear out of nowhere ready to go. At one time, employers invested in employees, now we are expected to maintain our skills on our own dime for an ungrateful master with shrinking salaries. There is a disconnect and it’s with employers. There are more than enough people out there.

  13. BrendanC

    The fundamental problem is that American IT people do not recruit anyone. IT people are too busy for recruiting. IT people depend on non-IT people for recruiting. Job descriptions and candidate selections are done by non-IT people. Non-IT people don’t understand IT, don’t know how to write job descriptions, and don’t know how to find American IT workers. They cut their losses and go to Indian companies. Indians are now in the US recruiting other Indians to come here and replace American workers.

    American workers are being displaced in IT by Indians, and the Republican and Democrat politicians love this because now companies and executives have more money for campaign contributions.

  14. There is no shortage of highly skilled American technology professionals. To think that somebody with 20 years of IT experience, a broad understanding of business, technologies and mature people skills cannot be hired over a less experienced newly arrived tech worker tells a story about corporations pushing down wages and having no concern for the health of the US Citizen and the United States of America. Large so-called American companies have global concerns that are not in the US and the American workers best interest. Our politicians have sold out this country to big international corporations and the American Technology worker is paying the price.

  15. Question: Is joblessness high in the tech sector? I understand other sectors have lost jobs in the U.S. but the tech sector is booming in NY & California so I find this premise surprising unless it is a regional issue. Anyone have stats to support that premise?

    @Trothaar – you don’t learn to be employable in school. School just teaches you a base to communicate and build on after you graduate (or during if you want to be ahead of the game). You learn by doing. Get your portfolio on the internet, work your social capital through networking with recruiters/people you know and promote your skills as well as your appetite to keep up with the pace of this industry. Also, be prepared for the industry to change every day and learn new languages/frameworks every few months.

    • RE: “… learn new languages/frameworks every few months …”

      These endeavors must be trivial indeed! Constructing the aircraft as it is being flown? The ultimate results are predictable if the product or service even gets off the ground.

    • And I’m supposed to pay my bills while I am building this portfolio and learning all of these new languages…how?

      My appetite isn’t for “skills.” I have an appetite for MAKING MONEY, to support my desire to continue living indoors.

      I have given up on obtaining a tech job. I cannot afford to spend YEARS working for FREE while I “build my social capital” and other such nonsense. I know I will never work in the tech field, ever, unless I get a job sweeping the floors at Microsoft. I have resigned myself to that. However, I will never stop being angry at working so hard, for so long, and spending so much $$ on a WORTHLESS degree. I would have been much better off being a business major. The course load would have been a lot easier, I would have gotten done much faster, and I would have developed skills that employers actually want.

      • And that’s the rub. The bottom line is, what value do you bring to the table and what do they need? They hold the keys if you want to work for someone. The only other answer is be self-employed or do a targeted job search if you really know what you want. Sometimes making money sucks too if you hate your job. It’s almost as bad as not having one. I will say that I suspect we won’t have the rats jumping off the ship from a rebounding economy. It seems companies have wised up and will do more with less keeping their workforces as lean as they can. On the other hand, if we do have a huge rebound, I suspect the turnover will be record setting. If that happens, a lesson or two hasn’t been learned.

      • Like I said, I’ve given up on working in tech — unless it’s tech marketing. Thankfully, I do have a marketing background, and a career in marketing is what I am striving for.

        I’m just angry that I wasted all of my time and $$ with this tech degree.

  16. The corporations I have been with dont want to train employees though they claim to. They have replaced seasoned well educated native employees that went to Ivey or close to Ivey school with the government based degreed freshmen from third world. They dont want to hire 20+ years of experience employees. They want to pay 70K for a skillset that demands 120K.

    In the end they hired a contractor charging 200/hr. Go figure.

    • I have also found that the quality of most outsourced job products and services to be lower than that which was available during the “golden age of computing” in the US (1970’s through 1990’s). Today, hardware is not very reliable compared to yesteryear (but it’s ubiquitous and cheap) and for the most part software is poorly conceived and chock full of design and implementation bugs — just as much as dreaded Microsoft products.

      One of the things I have noticed is that software today is largely like Hollywood film-making. Very few new ideas but a lot of repackaging and relabeling to make the concepts appear new (e.g., mainframes vs. cloud computing … how novel!). Company marketing crews are just reselling the old stuff with a few tweaks and some different names. I think Djikstra would agree.

  17. Arkain

    One of the big problems that no one is mentioning is that skills acquired personally but not used “on the clock” aren’t counted as work skills by many hiring managers/teams. Why? Who knows. If I listed on my resume every skill I’ve learned while tooling away on my workstation at home, the entire first page would be nothing more than a massive set of keyword lists. It’s a multi-part problem. There are many positions out there, but:

    1. Companies don’t want to spend money training.
    2. They don’t want to offer much in the way of pay and benefits.
    3. They expect to find a person with a high skillset (i.e. lots of experience and/or training) and high malleability (i.e. a total noob who will fit their possibly malformed practices easily rather than trying to improve them)
    4. Skills learned during personal time don’t apply until *after* you’ve got the position.
    5. Most of the people who interview you have little to no tech knowledge.
    6. You’re always asked cookie-cutter questions that don’t really tell anything about how well you fit the position during interviews.

    As long as these 6 things remain true, both sides (employers & labor) are going to lose out.

  18. justforchuckles

    Google routinely recruited at my school. Anybody ever seen an add for a developer position with Google? A dozen+ acronyms some possessing little or no relation to each other scattered from various specialties. So what did I do? My second semester I got out the course catalog and scanned for the acronyms I wasn’t familiar with and created a list of those classes and then took the classes that weren’t required as my electives. I figured if they were good enough for Google they would be good enough for some insurance company or accounting firm which consulted on the side. Did it work? I posted my resume in May, and got 30 to 40 recruiters call the first week. They all use search software that looks for keywords. The jobs offered are crap and they take a cut of the salary so the pay is below market but you get practice interviewing and there are hidden gems. I also looked for and applied directly to jobs that interested me. Ten face to face interviews and two offers. I start Monday for a company I chose. You have to out think and outwork their software, biases, and unrealistic expectation that they are going to get Djikstra himself for 40k. It can be done. Older workers? Invest in Grecian Formula, honestly. Brush up on current tech if you gotten stale. Leave off dates for school attendance. Trim experience listed on resume to last ten years for 40 year olds and twenty for 50 year olds.There is no rule a resume must be a complete chronological listing of your life. Employment applications generally top out at five or six jobs anyway. Make them meet you face to face before they can dismiss you as too old. In short, choose your destiny or have it chosen for you. Good luck ladies and gentlemen. I have faith in you, in us, and this country and I’m, not going down without a knock down drag out fight, you?

    • I don’t have any grey hair, so I don’t need dye. I don’t stuff my face with garbage food. I’m a runner and I just finished up my 2nd round of P90X (have to wait a couple of weeks before I go for Round 3), so I don’t look old and decrepit by any means. My resume lists only my last 10 years of employment, and I just got my degree so including the date should help.

      However, I’m not getting any calls because I don’t have complete fluency in C, C#, C++, Java, JavaScript, .NET, ASP.net, PHP, LAMP, AJAX, SQL, JQuery and usually six other programming languages. I am not an expert in WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, I don’t know Sharepoint, I’m not an expert in Adobe Creative Suite, and don’t have 3-5 years of experience and an extensive portfolio.

      I can’t just sit down and become an expert ALL of those languages and technologies. Actually, that’s not true. I probably could, but it would take me several years to obtain complete fluency in ALL of them, plus build an enormous portfolio. In the meantime, I am supposed to make $$ and pay my bills…how?

      • I don’t think Google hires people over 30 anyway. it’s pretty well known they are a “youth” oriented culture. Also, you’d have to pass some ridiculous test that asks some arcane questions to assess your ability to reason. On top of that, they interview people whose resumes match those already working for google for a given position. A lot of companies do the last one, but it sounds like a recipe for cultural inbreeding.

      • “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
        — George Santayana (Philosopher)

        Uniformity in a culture spawns group think. When external conditions change, group think organizations encounter difficulty responding. Anyone who has been to more than one “rodeo” can foresee the ultimate results.

  19. The problem of skill sets is that they can change faster than most people can learn them. You can end up “chasing” skill sets or you have to try and figure out which skill sets will be “hot” in the future and then work towards that set skills and hope you are correct.

    And as many others have noted, companies continue to convince our elected officials that they can’t find people in the U.S. so they need more and more H1b Visa people but the reality is that there are people here who can do the work but when they bring someone over on an H1b Visa – that employee is tied to the company for that Visa so they can’t leave and the company pretty much do as they wish with the employee.

    If the Visa was just changed so that the “person” holds the Visa and not the employee that would go a long ways to reducing the “worth” of the Visa to the employer.

    • I think the H-1B program should be abolished. It is legal indentured servitude and has no place in a free society. You should just be allowed to immigrate here or not, period. None of this being indentured to one employer BS.

      ——-The problem of skill sets is that they can change faster than most people can learn them. You can end up “chasing” skill sets or you have to try and figure out which skill sets will be “hot” in the future and then work towards that set skills and hope you are correct.—-

      Yep, and that’s one reason why I refuse to attempt to spend a year (or longer) teaching myself the hottest new technologies and building a portfolio around them. By the time I’ve mastered them, they will be obsolete.

  20. The tech sector outsources and offshores like mad, but it also onshores. Tech H1B visa work has flooded the local market in the northwest with labor from India primarily. Microsoft for example is the largest inported of H1B workers in the tech sector, and the third largest in the entire program. It’s strategic partners like Satyam are the other three in the H1B top four. All of this hits the tech sector localy and saleries plummet as you may expect. In the companies that I’ve worked for over the last few years, the single largest ethnic group is Indian by a large amount. This was not true up until the last 6 or 7 years. When posting on Dice and Monster, about 90% of the calls I receive now are from Indian recruiters, most having no direct relationship with the client but simply head hunters and pass through agencies. On my last project out of the 6 other people hired on with me, one was local and the other 5 were brought in from out of state or out of country, all HIB from India, and the required skill set for this job is common, so it’s not like we had to scour the world to find the handfull of people that could do the job..

    So yes, we have a structural problem in the tech labor market.

    As a result, I have lots of Indian friends that I’m close with, and it’s not fun and games for them eiether. One told me he felt trapped. They offer you what seems like a huge sum of money to come here, but when you get on the local standard with housing expenses, transportations, you end up splitting an appartment with 4 other guys and eat a lot of rice and lentals. They don’t have to give you raises, you can’t change positions without having to go home and start again, and if you don’t like the deal, tough. Sell your car, give up your job and your friends, and you have a couple weeks to get the hell out of the country. There’s a billion others waiting to take your place. Or so it seems.

    We have a structural problem. We need to lower quotas on H1B, or return it to it’s origional purpose of gettng specialized skills unavailable at the prevailing local wage. We need to change the incentive structure that promotes outsoucing. We need to reboot innovation, but you can’t draw young bright minds into the field if there are no career opportunities available after graduation. .

    • Lowering the H1B visa quota (IMHO) would be challenged by companies saying “But we need people…” – I think instead we should say “Ok, we get it but the H1B Visa will be held by the person not the company”. That way once the person gets here from India, or China they are free to go to another company if they get a better offer.

      This way the hiring company will have to treat that employee the same as with any US citizen since the H1B Visa holder will be free to take another job if they get a better deal.

      • Used to be that the H1B applicant was required to be paid the prevailing wage for that skill set and the company had to prove it, but it’s no longer enforced. The fact of the matter is H1B workers are paid substantialy less, which is why companies go through all the hassle of the process. The foreign worker is being taken advantage of, as well as the local labor market being depressed.

        When you are running 9% unemployment, it’s really hard to belive the “but we need people” line. Fine. Go look on Dice.

        In my state, Washington unemployed tech workers draw state and federal unemployment. The company is taking advantage of the citizens by shifting their costs to the system. Every H1B displaces a citizen that then drains the state and federal system.

        I would much rather see the H1B system completly shut down and replaced by a system where those workers and applicants are given citizenship than see them workign under these conditions. It’s bad for them, and it’s bad for our economy. Far better to let them in and level the playing field.

      • @Rob…. you make a great point, but let me make a small correction. H1 holders can actually switch employers very easily and in matter of days. That was a great change to the law to avoid de facto indentured servitude.

        However, things didn’t change much if an H1 holder convince his employer to go through the trouble and expense of sponsoring him/her a green card, the individuals becomes virtually chained to the employer for years until the employment authorization is granted. Indeed, it takes so long, that many folks end empty handed because after years of waiting, the sponsoring company may close, there is a financial crisis and get laid off, and so on. After such catastrophe, they don’t only loose their job, but the green card process becomes invalid because it is company-bound, not individual-bound, and they have to go back to the end of the line if they switch to a new employer.

  21. I concur with many of the comments here. As a senior IT Professional, I have become accustomed to the short-sightedness of US Corporations to think that outsourcing to people who understand the technology will inherit the lessons-learned that many of these outsourced resources haven’t developed. I witnessed this first-hand several years back and this short-sightedness resulted in the corporations full-time staff paying the price for the mistakes made time and time again. My favorite saying in support of this commentary is: You can pay me now, or you can pay me later!!! Seldom have I seen the higher paid resources failing to meet the expectations of the client – more times, they exceed the expectations and foster a better work environment.

  22. Something I find interesting on these job boards. People seem to be suffering in every industry. IT folks vaguely believe MBAs and lawyers are doing better, lawyers are buried under debt saying they wish they’d studied a STEM subject. Meanwhile, everyone’s blaming poor unemployment stats on mythical basket weaving majors, when unreasonable hiring practices seem to be the real cause of pain across industries and professions.

    • I agree with you. I toyed with the notion of law school…until I found out how many J.D.’s are driving cabs. There are just too many of them. Nobody outside the halls of law schools really thinks we need more lawyers.

      Same thing with M.B.A.’s. There are too many of them, especially since the financial meltdown. Every time a bank lays people off, more M.B.A.’s flood the market.

      It makes me angry every time someone claims that the only college graduates having problems are those who studied “soft” majors like Women’s Studies, Theatre and Art History. The latter two might have more opportunities open to them than I do; they could always teach art or acting to the children of the rich, who pay good money for their little darlings to be tutored in the fine arts.

    • Barbara — I largely agree with you. The unrealistic employment and business practices ARE the structural problem (and you are right — it is not just IT or technology-oriented businesses).

  23. The way that the software and hardware world has grown leaves so many without enough experience to qualify completely anymore. Below is an actual description of requirements for a position. Honestly, who REALLY would be completely qualified for this position? No fibbing, no resume padding. I think that if you really read this, it looks like 2-3 different people all woven together. Am I wrong? Or is this another example of just what this article is talking about?

    “Must have previous experience working with the following: Virtualization (Citrix XenServer, VMware ESX/ESXi), Linux (RedHat Enterprise Linux/CentOS), Web servers (Lighttpd, nginx), including SSL, Layer 2/3 Networking, Firewalls (WatchGuard, Cisco, MySQL Servers, Replication, High Availability, NoSQL Technologies (Cassandra, HBase/Hadoop, Big Table, Dynamo, MongoDB, Voldemort, etc), PHP/PHP-FASTCGI, Backups (File and Database, Monitoring software (NagiOS, Cacti), VPN technologies (OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, IPSec), Caching technologies (Memcached), Rapid indexing/search engines (Sphinx), Linux/Windows Interoperability (Samba, Winbind), Encryption (TrueCrypt). Redundancy, including, but not limited to: Load Balancing (software or hardware, Foundry, Cisco)/Database replication/RAID technologies/Automatic failover (DRBD, heartbeat). Open source storage technologies (OpenFiler), IP Telephony/VoIP (TrixBox, Asterisk), Version control software (Git), Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows XP/Vista/7, Microsoft Office. Bachelors degree in related field preferred.”

  24. Gupta Boy

    Yes, the gupta boys (gender agnostic) are ruining the industry. But the gupta boys are not to blame. No, blame cheap, short-sighted corporate amerika, who will sell their mutha if the price is right. Anarchy is the only answer, as our 2-party political system lacks the intelligence to see the damage they perpetuate.

  25. Donald E

    It’s not the H1B problem!

    It’s the L1 visa problem!!!!! Companies use the L1 visa to bring as many people as they so please into the US. If it were H1Bs, there is a cap. I don’t know what that cap is. But suffice it to say that the real abuse by American companies is all done via the L1 visa.

    L1 visas are intracompany visas where any company can move as many outside “experts” to the US as they so desire… and there ain’t nuttin’ you can do ’bout it!! It’s as legal as can be. Go ahead and try to make a stink about it and you’ll get the blind eye ‘n’ deaf ear treatment.

    Keeping the L1 on the quiet has been going on for a number of years now. Just look at the numbers of Indians at any IT project site! Shouldn’t these be Americans with these jobs?!?! Oh wait, almost forgot, Americans don’t have the skills for these jobs. There’s not enough Americans with the skills. We all know that’s a line of #&^%$.

    US companies are getting away with this, too, and like I said a moment ago, you can complain to the wall. That’s about as far as you’re going to get!

    Gaming????!!!!! Mobile apps??!! What happened to the real IT jobs?? They’ve all been outsourced!!!!!

    • Donald —

      Indeed. During the few (3) full-time, non-consulting position interviews I have had in the past year, I have been led to believe (by younger hiring managers), that mathematics, logic, programming, physics, and chemistry are now completely different from what they were 15 or 20 years ago. I now understand that it is not possible to quickly (1 or 2 weeks) pick up a “new” programming language through on the job training (OJT).

      I guess I missed the memo along the way.

  26. According to an analysis that I saw, in the last 12 years, the largest outsourcing of jobs to Asian countries was high tech jobs. Remember when people said “don’t worry about the loss of manufacturing jobs – the US is not an information society not manuracturing”? Now we have lost the high tech they are saying ‘don’t worry – green and bio jobs are the big thing’. However, in the name of ‘reducing the debt’ we are not investing in research in these fields. China is, Germany is. I heard that US scientiests and engineers are moving overseas cause that’s where the jobs are. We also are no longer funding Colleges or even basic education. We spend more on our military than the next 20 nations combined. We spend more $ to lock people cause we lock up more people than any other nation + we are privatizing this as well. Heard of stories where judges are getting kickbacks for sentencing people or laws being passed due to private prison lobbying for them cause they get $ for locking people up.

    • As investments, and tangible and intellectual property is moved to other countries, I wonder who the multi-national conglomerates will turn to for justice when their products are copied and sold without receiving licensing fees, or the assets are outright seized (nationalized). It seems short sighted to me, but who am I to say?