Smoggy Registered User
#1

Im a software dev and work in a software dev company and im interested to read articles stating that the number of IT graduates entering the work place has been dropping since 2000.

Dropping to the point where Irish companies are struggling to fill roles. Now I know we are in a recession, but the place I work for looks to fill newly created dev roles now and again but struggles to fill them and has sought devs from other countries such as the UK.

What im wondering, are the articles I have read (source is usually university written and published in a national paper) are they accurate ? or is it just the place that I work that is fitting into this trend of finding it hard to locate qualified dev resources ?

What are others experiences with this ?

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Sposs Registered User
#2

I think it's all swings and roundabouts, alot of people went into IT courses around 2000 as it was in a boom and looked like a good career choice , then it went bust and course numbers dropped , then it increased but people began to see it as a "call centre" job so numbers dropped again, now were seeing a shortage again, hearing about the jobs being created by ebay/IBM/Linkedin etc will ensure numbers will rise again.

I think that's why its always better to select a career that you actually enjoy and not just do what happens to be in vogue at the time.

NeverSayDie Registered User
#3

Funny you mention that, was just talking about this yesterday. Things do appear to be picking up hiring-wise - I have a few contacts in other companies who are pretty keen to land folks lately, plus more enquiries than usual from recruiters. In fact, spent a while yesterday afternoon talking to a recruiter who was trying to headhunt me for various things, he appeared to have quite a lot of stuff on his books he needed to fill - mostly arriving in the past month or two. His crew were also offering pretty reasonable referral bonuses, which would suggest it was more than just the usual recruiters' hyper-enthusiasm, and they needed to put their money where their mouths were. As Sposs mentions, incoming US firms seemed to make up a fair bit of what his people were trying to fill.

That's for experienced folks mind - things are still pretty tight for graduates from what I've seen, the old problem being that they're not much use without commercial experience, which they'll have a hard time getting when they're not much use. I get the impression recessions exacerbate that somewhat - when you're trying to keep costs down, affording the risk of picking one with potential, and the time and resources to train and mould a fresh graduate into something useful isn't necessarily worthwhile, even if they are cheap and plentiful. Likwise larger companies may have suspended their formal graduate programs, and haven't gotten round to starting them back up yet.

In more general terms, yeah, good development talent appears to be hard to come by. I know companies I've worked with that were interviewing over the past while, often ended up pretty horrified by the quality of candidates who ended up in interviews. Decent CVs of course, but once they were on the spot, technical knowledge and general approach was very weak indeed in many many cases. Basically, folks who shouldn't have been calling themselves software developers, certainly not experienced ones anyway. It's not even the purely technical knowledge and skill that was missing - the attitude and approach seemed to be way off base; unable to discuss tech questions they didn't know the answers to, no apparent insight or broader awareness of their trade, etc. Bit worrying from an industry/profession point of view, though tbh it did boost my personal confidence quite a bit - I wouldn't rate myself an especially good engineer, but I can certainly compete with that standard with one arm missing. As a professional engineer though, it worries me a bit that the talent pool we have available is apparently that shallow. It would also tend to suggest bad things about our education of developers. I mean, if you can't sensibly discuss a problem that you don't have a solution for, or a question you don't know the answer to, wtf are you doing in this line of work? That's what we do.

A Coding Horror post from a while back on the theme of programming ability specifically;
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/02/why-cant-programmers-program.html

DLohan Registered User
#4

NeverSayDie said:
Funny you mention that, was just talking about this yesterday. Things do appear to be picking up hiring-wise - I have a few contacts in other companies who are pretty keen to land folks lately, plus more enquiries than usual from recruiters. In fact, spent a while yesterday afternoon talking to a recruiter who was trying to headhunt me for various things, he appeared to have quite a lot of stuff on his books he needed to fill - mostly arriving in the past month or two. His crew were also offering pretty reasonable referral bonuses, which would suggest it was more than just the usual recruiters' hyper-enthusiasm, and they needed to put their money where their mouths were. As Sposs mentions, incoming US firms seemed to make up a fair bit of what his people were trying to fill.

That's for experienced folks mind - things are still pretty tight for graduates from what I've seen, the old problem being that they're not much use without commercial experience, which they'll have a hard time getting when they're not much use. I get the impression recessions exacerbate that somewhat - when you're trying to keep costs down, affording the risk of picking one with potential, and the time and resources to train and mould a fresh graduate into something useful isn't necessarily worthwhile, even if they are cheap and plentiful. Likwise larger companies may have suspended their formal graduate programs, and haven't gotten round to starting them back up yet.

In more general terms, yeah, good development talent appears to be hard to come by. I know companies I've worked with that were interviewing over the past while, often ended up pretty horrified by the quality of candidates who ended up in interviews. Decent CVs of course, but once they were on the spot, technical knowledge and general approach was very weak indeed in many many cases. Basically, folks who shouldn't have been calling themselves software developers, certainly not experienced ones anyway. It's not even the purely technical knowledge and skill that was missing - the attitude and approach seemed to be way off base; unable to discuss tech questions they didn't know the answers to, no apparent insight or broader awareness of their trade, etc. Bit worrying from an industry/profession point of view, though tbh it did boost my personal confidence quite a bit - I wouldn't rate myself an especially good engineer, but I can certainly compete with that standard with one arm missing. As a professional engineer though, it worries me a bit that the talent pool we have available is apparently that shallow. It would also tend to suggest bad things about our education of developers. I mean, if you can't sensibly discuss a problem that you don't have a solution for, or a question you don't know the answer to, wtf are you doing in this line of work? That's what we do.

A Coding Horror post from a while back on the theme of programming ability specifically;
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/02/why-cant-programmers-program.html


Not a lot posted on the hiring websites though. Maybe takes time to filter through.

bullpost Registered User
#5

From my experience there seems to be a shortage of young Irish experienced developers e.g. Java. Theres lots of older ones around (from Iona etc.) but the younger ones tend to be immigrants so would endorse what the previous poster said about this shortage.
I'd imagine that its got something to do with thr auld Celtic Tiger and the choices graduates made for careers during that period but could be completely wrong!

DLohan Registered User
#6

bullpost said:
From my experience there seems to be a shortage of young Irish experienced developers e.g. Java. Theres lots of older ones around (from Iona etc.) but the younger ones tend to be immigrants so would endorse what the previous poster said about this shortage.
I'd imagine that its got something to do with thr auld Celtic Tiger and the choices graduates made for careers during that period but could be completely wrong!


Probably was the choices that they made in past 6 years. IT was in vogue in 2000 but then the downturn came and fewer people engaged in it. There was an exodus of sorts.

The problem with a lot of IT is one of diminishing returns. Some companies are charging less than they were some years ago, which is fine if your costs are doing the same thing. But when ever do costs go down?

I would imagine trades and property development-associated activities were more popular.

zdragon Registered User
#7

Sposs said:
...by ebay/IBM/Linkedin etc will ensure numbers will rise again.

except IBM there will be yet another "call center" positions.

marco_polo Moderator
#8

We struggled to get 3-4 devs recently with 1-2 years experience, speaking to one of our the recruiters it was hard to even find suitable candadites to interview.

farreca Registered User
#9

Marco

Just as a matter of interest what sort of dev's were you looking for (java, c# ..) ?

Sparks Moderator
#10

bullpost said:
there seems to be a shortage of young ... experienced developers
There might be a logical reason for that

Frankly though, anytime we were hiring, the problem was never a lack of applicants; the problem was a lack of people I'd trust to tie their own shoelaces, let alone get near the codebase that paid our bills.

Personally, I trace most of this back to around 1995/6, when the student computing research group in TCD died out. That was the point where engineering students stopped (by and large) doing extracurricular work (yes, one or two each year continue to do that, but they're the same one or two that could have passed finals within six months of walking in the front door so they don't count). Prior to that point, you had folks writing microkernels, compilers, and other cool software projects, or building robots or doing other interesting things for fun; and learning fairly deep lessons as a result; after that point, you had people who just didn't want to spend any time on anything that didn't feed towards their final degree mark. So we have a lot of grads with higher scores in their finals (grade inflation my left buttcheek), but whose overall skillset and attitude is sorely lacking. Hell, it even spread to the sports clubs, it was so widespread (almost every sports club in the colleges saw a downturn in membership around that timeframe).

hobochris Registered User
#11

As a not so recent grad(out of college 2 years)/junior dev, one thing I have noticed which has been a huge battle for me is the lack of companies willing to help a grad bridge the gap between the experience they want and the experience grads have.

I found a lot of companies hiring for a grad position expecting the grad to have 2 years commercial experience in a particular framework. When reality what they are really looking for is a more experienced dev to slum it in a lower position.

This type of situation can dishearten even the most enthusiastic grads, which in turn slowly chips away at their motivation, something that is very much needed for any grad trying to keep their head down and work hard to turn themselves into a competent experienced developer.

2 people have thanked this post
Evil Phil Contact Section
#12

I have heard, although I don't know how true it actually is, that some multinationals will simply not hire grads from specific colleges/universities in the country. Now I don't know what companies or universities are included.

I've also read an interview with one of the founders of Havoc where he said that his new venture simply could not get the quality of grads that they needed in Ireland. Personally I feel that there's a focus on getting people into jobs rather then getting them into computing as a vocation.

1 person has thanked this post
Sparks Moderator
#13

Yeah, but Havok is a startup and startups... well, let's just say that they often speak in terms which espouse a view of the world not shared by the actual inhabitants of that world
I mean, some startups I've seen will go looking for programmers who are exceptionally high-level experienced experts in multiple areas, and look to pay them peanuts... and then complain that there aren't enough good people to go round but lots of people who don't make the grade.
It's not to say that they're incorrect, just that the specific problem they're seeing is self-inflicted a lot of the time.

amen Registered User
#14

but Havok is a startup and startups.


hardley. Its been around for several years and was sold to Intel( I think).

Has a large staff and is the main SDK for life like motion on gaming platforms.

They want graduates with good numerical skills pref PhD/MsC in physics, maths or comp sci.

Coincidentally the same type of grads the financial institutions like in UK/USA but not here!

scorn Registered User
#15

marco_polo said:
We struggled to get 3-4 devs recently with 1-2 years experience, speaking to one of our the recruiters it was hard to even find suitable candadites to interview.


That's strange - I was speaking to a recruiter yesterday and was told that the market had picked up more than expected (and the rates were lifting too - referring to .net/sql contract work).

However, the recruiter said that there were still many candidates available and until such time came where there weren't, the rates would probably not rise that much more...

So - it does seem that there are devs out there looking for work, though I do sometimes question an agency's ability to judge a candidates skill level (giving credence to Sparks comment:
Frankly though, anytime we were hiring, the problem was never a lack of applicants; the problem was a lack of people I'd trust to tie their own shoelaces, let alone get near the codebase that paid our bills.

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