Tech Jobs

More and more articles are appearing on talent crisis. In an earlier blog, I pointed to Deloitte’s prediction of Talent Crisis. Here is another from Kurt Cagle whom I respect (read his XML column regularly) on The Coming Tech Labor Crunch:

… there is a continuing drain upon the IT field due to programmers moving on or moving out, coupled with an impending drop due to raw demographics coupled with an overall negative image being painted of the IT field at the college level that are whittling away all but the most dedicated developers before they even graduate.

… unfortunately. University level curricula take three to eight years to implement, typically, which means that they are usually quite adept at teaching what was contemporary half a decade before. Thus, it’s likely that courses in Ruby or AJAX will likely not appear in the typical university catalog until 2009 at the earliest. The community colleges are generally more nimble, though they too have a lag time that they have to fight.

While this can be seen as a necessary brake on “fad languages”, the reality is that from the time that a person enters college, they will be looking at seven to eight years before they are even at a journeyman programmer level, of which nearly half that ends up being borne as “on-the-job” training to companies.

While the short term looks good for developers as a consequence, the longer term benefits for the industry overall is considerably more unsettled. Tech jobs in general are quite attractive to most politicians – they pay well (and consequently can be taxed well), they tend to attract a core of intelligent people who often participate disproportionately in the cultural life of their community, tech jobs are generally “green” in that they require comparatively little polluting infrastructure to sustain, and they tend to have a comparatively light footprint in terms of crime, drug abuse, and other societal “ills” compared to other groups.

How can the industry solve this problem? The talent crisis is not just for software. It is going to hit almost every high tech field where even a journeyman will require 6-8 years of training.