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There has been a long term trend of increased competition for employment opportunities. There are fluctuations in it like the dotcom bubble and the great recession, but overall the situation gets progressively worse. Technology is one of the few sectors that shows a significant increase in jobs with many of them offering attractive pay. Many people are focusing on this as the great hope of the future. Actually the picture is considerably more complicated than that. Depending on how you classify tech jobs they presently employ about 10-12% of the US workforce. The products and services that are being created are actually reducing employment in other sectors of the economy. As the push for developments in robotics gains force, this is a trend that is accelerating.

A critical question is just who is going to get the jobs building and programming the robots. The US tech industry has long maintained that they face great difficulty in finding people with the right skills to fill vacancies. This has led to the controversial H1B visa program that allows them to bring in migrant workers from abroad. Among the requirements for this they are supposed to demonstrate that they have made an effort to recruit US workers for the position and that the migrant workers are being paid prevailing wages. There are recurring accusations that it is all a dodge to cut wages. Nobody ever seems willing to put facts and figures on the table that would allow a serious exploration of the issue.

This controversy is not unique to the US. The New York Time has an article on the situation in Europe.

Unemployed in Europe Stymied by Lack of Technology Skills

After a five-year economic crisis, the mismatch represents one of the thorniest problems facing Ireland and many other European countries. Hundreds of thousands of people who lost work, and many young people entering the work force, are finding that their skills are ill suited to a huge crop of innovation-based jobs springing up across the Continent.

“In all countries, there is an expectation that many of the new jobs created will be in the knowledge-intensive economy,” said Glenda Quintini, a senior labor economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “But we are seeing a worrisome skills mismatch that means a large number of unemployed people are not well prepared for the pool of jobs opening up.”

Employers have long complained that graduates do not have the skills they need. But in a recent report, the International Labor Organization warned that “skills mismatches and occupational shifts have worsened” in Europe in the wake of the crisis. People laid off in hard-hit sectors, from construction to finance, face lengthy retraining, while too few graduates entering the job market have chosen engineering, science or technology degrees for the growing innovation-based jobs market.

This is another saga in the ongoing story of globalization. Tech jobs are never going to employ vast numbers of people. Those that pay well require a high level of skill and ability. How do people go about acquiring those skills and how do they get the jobs. In the US tech jobs are strongly dominated by white and Asian young males. There are recurring calls to promote diversity, but not a lot has happened about it.

Private industry is not looking for people who might have the potential to do the jobs if they were given training. They would like to hire people who are at a level where they can walk in the door and become immediately productive. There is often a large gap between the skills provided in academic institutions and trade schools and what is happening in the fast moving world of technology. The women and non-Asian minorities who do manage to get a foot in the door often complain about an environment which they experience as being unwelcoming.

Countries such as China and India have made concerted efforts to provide up to date technology training in their drives to move their industrial sector up the economic feeding chain. This has produced a growing group of people available to compete in the US and Europe. Of course the way that technology persist in changing the world it is becoming easier for them to perform useful services over the internet while staying put where they are.

We have a situation in the US of a large pool of young people who have followed the dictum that a college education is the key to the American dream. They got one by incurring sizable amounts of student debt. They now have no job or one that represents serious under employment. We have industries that say they have job vacancies that they can't fill because of a lack of qualified workers. Something is wrong with this picture.

Originally posted to Richard Lyon on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 03:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They can't fill those vacancies with cheap... (20+ / 0-)

    ...labor, y`mean! Also, there are vacancies that someone is reluctant to fill, like public agencies that have had older workers retire, and the small staff left are treading water to deal with the work. My old section with the Chicago DOT is something like that, where 2 people cannot do the work of the necessary minimum of 6. No new people, and they save money, to do things like fund a "task force" to find new tenants to fill empty supermarkets, or build a sports center for a private college.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 03:23:37 PM PST

    •  As I said I have never seen the kinds (11+ / 0-)

      of objective facts and figures that would make it possible to get a grip on what is really going on. Given that this is a global phenomenon and not limited to the US, I really am inclined to believe that there some disconnects between job requirements and available skills. I am sure that there are also other games going on.

      •  Of course there are disconnects (8+ / 0-)

        And a huge part of the reason is because most training programs are 3-5 yrs behind available tech.

        That's how long it takes to get a new program designed and approved. In the meantime, tech has advanced. People with those cutting edge skills are almost always self trained to some extent, and have tons of work, so aren't available to teach except at the most elite institutions where they can pay big bucks for a guest lecturer.

        Another part of the problem is that hr depts want somebody with training in something that there really isn't any formalized training for yet, and don't know or want to recognize the interrelationship between various kinds of programming languages.

        Programming logic really doesn't change. Syntax changes, the tools you use change, what is expected changes. But the underlying logic is the same.

  •  This is actually several different discussions (13+ / 0-)

    I will attempt to parse this as I see it

    1. Issues of race and class

    While one can explain the split along racial lines of who is and isn't in these industries based on technical skills for positions like coding, it doesn't explain why non-technical positions are also filled mostly by White, with Asian distant second, and primarily male.  At least in the U.S. I can't speak for other countries.

    That is, technical skills doesn't explain why financial, legal, operational and sales positions are that way.

    I believe its about status and connections.

    2. Technical skills

    The problem ultimately is we can't know whether there is really a shortage or not because no one in a position to tell us in the industries involves are willing to allow transparency. So we are left with their word.  Its a likely a combination of shortage in some ways, but also just as likely it could be a desire to control labor, which one can do with an immigrant better than one can with a domestic worker in any economy, U.S. or abroad. So, until they are willing to put numbers to the table, I think your point about no one is willing to provide the data should inform our decisions about what to believe. I will believe their is a shortage when they open up to transparency to prove it. In any capitalist system, much less a fair one, transparency is the least one should expect because markets cannot work without transparency.  There's no way to judge value without it.

    3. Technical skills training

    Ultimately this is a breakdown in how we educate. The expectation that one should take on huge sums of debt means that one will have an harder time of obtaining the necessary 'ready to code on day one" skills that you are describing.  To make a plan work that would allow workers in the US to compete, the cost of education training and retraining should be almost free for the student because its the only way you can reduce costs to them to train for the job that they may not even have yet. So I agree, the whole approach in the US is making us less competitive even if one believes that capitalism works.

    4. Ultimately, I think we are going to lose. i say "we" asin the U.S. regarding tech. There are just to many canaries in the coalmine.  Decisions have been made and continue to be made that year by year means we are giving up our advantages because people are short sighted. There is too much focus on status. You know I just mentioned that to you in my own experiences,a nd I have thought about it, and the status issues so prevalent that a brilliant new tech could come along and we would completely miss it because that person doesn't travel in the SF/MA/NYC tech circles.

    •  It is complicated. (15+ / 0-)

      At this point the major tech companies that have their headquarters in the US are reaching the point that half or better of their revenues are coming from outside the US. There are truly global concerns. They are highly sophisticated at playing nations and national law off against each other.  

      •  I agree with this. For example (7+ / 0-)

        look at how they handle tax and international tax treaty issues as was discussed last year

        There's nothing particularly unusual about the tax treaty issue or immigration issues. You can see that on every policy discussion. To get around privacy concerns in the EU which they view as more stringent, they push for Obama to include language in the Transatlantic treaty to water down the EU privacy laws.

        Likewise, even within countries, they act to changes laws whether in the US, where depending on the desired outcomes they will push for either "conservative" or "progressive" outcomes that always focused like a laser on their agenda

        Or if you go to Ireland where the tax treaty incident happened, I doubt the local received much financial benefit from it in the form of tax revenue. Its all playing the on each national states like of power to influence the overall internatiional arena. that includes the US lack of power as well.

        •  Actually, Ireland did benefit (5+ / 0-)

          Did, past tense.

          If you look at tech industry investment in Ireland from the late 80's to early 00's, they did a great job of attracting multinational tech companies with a combination of low taxation, investment credits and a highly educated but poor population that was very attractive to these companies.

          I myself did a short stint in Cork where my employer had a screwdriver plant to service Europe (the other being a JV in Germany) and during the boom years, there was so much demand for high tech workers that there was a fair amount of immigration into Ireland from Europe and even the US, not just for IT but Biotech as well.

          But then the property bubble bust and the house of cards fell down.

          Which gets back to basic issue of governance, not technology.

        •  But the EU is pushing back (5+ / 0-)

          While I agree the US has tended to use trade agreements to further the agenda of US based corporations, including tech industries,  the Left and organized labor in Western Europe is fighting back against the current trade agreement and just got a bog stick in the form of NSA spying.

          It turns out the Trade Commissioners seeing an opportunity to promote intra-EU trade and investment but putting up some of the regulations privacy and human rights parties have been pressing, and getting support on the Left now.

          Just a year ago, it seemed Google et al were pretty confident to have their way on this trade agreement and now they are fighting defensive battles inside the US, but if you read the fine print of the "Principles" stated, this is more about protecting the interests of the companies than the rights of their users product. For example, points 4 and 5:

          4 Respecting the Free Flow of Information

          The ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country’s borders or operate locally.

          5 Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments

          In order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty — or “MLAT” — processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.

          Are you listening EU ministers? I, for one, totally believe Google can be a force for harmonious one world government.

        •  As someone who recently tutored math for (7+ / 0-)

          HS students, I continually came in contact with ninth and tenth grade students who were clueless about fractions. If this is the case in middle class homes where at least one parent has executive status, I can only imagine what is happening in much less affluent homes.

          Kids today don't know their "tables" as the use of calculators is so pervasive. Child psychiatrists will tell you that the learning of the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables are important tasks to take on, as they wire a child's brain in certain important ways.

          At times it seems like we as a nation are on fast track to duplicate the situations emphasized in the movie "Idiocracy."

          In addition to all this, many kids who grew up in homes where both mom and dad had masters' degrees, have experienced  through their daily household life the hard cold reality  that even with all that education, their parents still ended up unemployed. Why get "A's" in chemistry, with all the work that entails, if the chemistry research jobs are now in Shanghai or Singapore?

          And the H1B visas supported by the major candidates for office on both sides of the aisle sure don't make life any easier for the average person trying to use their excellent computer skills.

          •  My kids despised the fact that... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EliseMattu, nchristine

            ...I wouldn't allow them to use calculators for a given mathematical task until they completed the first set of exercises with pencil and paper.

            That anger lasted until the day their Algebra II teacher announced that calculators were not to be used on the midterm exam. Suddenly, I became a veritable font of wisdom.  **grin**

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 07:15:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Ready to code what on day one? (9+ / 0-)

      And using what tools?

      That's the bigger problem. If I'm a decent programmer, I can likely learn your tools in a couple of weeks. If I know your tools but am a horrid programmer, I'll be able to 'code on day one' but what I turn out will be full of bugs and crappy, and take longer to fix than the few weeks it would have taken the other guy to get up to speed.

    •  Yes it does (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      "That is, technical skills doesn't explain why financial, legal, operational and sales positions are that way."

      Financial, legal, operational and sales positions ALSO require the SAME technical skills.

      FYI Asian is NOT a distant second, White probably is.

    •  Status and connections for regular IT positions? (0+ / 0-)

      Why then H1B people are hired? You're not going to claim that they have status and connections. Education is certainly a problem, both in college and on K12 level.

    •  European companies do better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoenix Woman

      Germany especially has public-private partnerships for job training.  Siemens has programs in some parts of the US as well.  We need lots more of that and less focus on squeezing out profits.

      Don't bet your future on 97% of climate scientists being wrong. Take action on climate now!

      by Mimikatz on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:29:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's what I see on US 'tech' education.... (14+ / 0-)

    The schools (I can only talk about my experience with community colleges) will teach students to think, generally, the general concepts of the subjects (ie application programming, mis, etc).  The schools do not teach/train kids on Ruby on Rails version 1.x, or Net Express 5.1, or Documerge 3.x, or any other 3rd party vendor tool.  They'll teach about the idea of API's, but not the individual brands of API's that are out there, nor IDE's.  It's impossible to train everyone on every single platform and/or 3rd party software package.

    Yet, the companies are expecting exactly that.  In my current job, the description asked for Documerge experience.  I had no real clue what that product did, even looking up info on the 'net.  Yet, I was able to get the job because I had looked up the product and convinced them that I can learn quickly.  I'm now to the point where almost none will question my statements on the subsystem I support and I've been with the company since mid March 2013.

    Companies want people who already have the exact job they're advertizing for, but at another company and poach them.  China and India are taking people and training them for very specific jobs and when something new comes along, that person will be dumped for the next piece of tech.

    I keep hearing how the tech world is dominated by white/asian males.  I'd like to know which segment of the tech industry they're talking about.  The last 4 programming jobs that I've had, women were the majority.

    •  Excellent points. (8+ / 0-)

      One of the first problems is how you count tech jobs. Does it include everybody who works at Google and Apple?

      The focus of the media is usually on development of new software and startups. Much attention is paid to who gets the venture capital funding. There is an awful lot of more routine work that requires strong technical skills.

      I am very interested to hear your experience of being able to convince an employer that you were worth investing in for the future by providing training.

      •  They're not really providing any training on the (7+ / 0-)

        documerge product in general.  I've just been picking it up as I go and what I do doesn't always deal directly with the product itself.  I'm generally dealing with the supporting stuff that gets put into the documerge product.  The cobol pgms that reformat a record layout to match what's needed for Documerge mostly.  Then lan scripting to get the data files and then routing the output files to the proper locations for print or distribution.  It also didn't hurt that the company is in the process of deciding on a new print package because Documerge doesn't have some of the tools/capabilities that the company deems necessary.

        I think that what sold them on me was that in June of 2012 I was working on a database conversion from IMS to DB2.  This particular part of the project included 51 pgms and 4/5 tables.  There were 4 contractors (and one quit pretty early in the month and hadn't really done much anyway) and one 'real' employee working on this part.  I ended up being the one that wrote the specs for more than 20 of the pgms, then coded and tested more than 20 of the pgms.  We did the project in 4 weeks and implemented without error.  I'm good at what I do.  

        •  It sounds like you had (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, Calamity Jean

          some pretty strong tech experience, just not on that specific product. I would imagine that was persuasive.

          It is a bigger problem for people trying to get into the industry. I have seen some things about pilot projects with internship programs but they seem to have pretty mixed results.

          •  I'm not intimidated by tech. My dad started (8+ / 0-)

            teaching small bits of electronics to me before I was 10.  I learned to solder at 8.  My dad worked for PMEL in the USAF and he would take us to his office from time to time.  We'd play with the osiloscopes (sp??) and that's where I played my first computer game in 1976ish.  It was a Star Trek game, very basic by today's standard.

            My mother has a BS in Computer Science and was one class short of a triple major (mathematics and accounting) and .1 off of graduating with honors.  My dad has around 5 AS degrees, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science.  My parents were in college when I was in high school.  I typed their papers for them (damn was I happy when they got a Trash80 - I no longer had to retype the whole damned paper, only what was edited!!!).  I was also among the first 40 in the high school to take Basic computer programming in 82/83.

            So, I grew up in a 'tech' world and it's part of my genetics.  Remember those aptitude tests in middle school??? Mine were always very lopsided.  I'd pretty much max out on technical type stuff and bottom out on social.

            •  That is probably the sort of background (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, linkage

              that people need to get a head start. I've known a lot of people from science backgrounds that wound up working in tech. It is, however, not a natural career path for lit majors.

              •  I think that people's brains work differently. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril, JeffW, Phoenix Woman

                That we don't all think in the same way.  Lit majors don't think in the same manner as a mathematician, or scientist does.  Math and science have definitive steps to get from point a to point b.  Ok, there's lots of creative thinking that goes on in between, but there's a certain structure to it.  Whereas lit isn't nearly as structured, in my opinion.

                My bachelor's degree is actually in Architecture (the buildings type of architecture).  I also have two ASS degrees in programming, that I got years after the BA.

                •  There is something to innate talent (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mimi, kyril, eyo, Phoenix Woman

                  but early experience and training is also quite formative.

                •  They are trained not to (6+ / 0-)

                  There is a mystique about mathematics that is completely unjustified but perpetuated by mediocre education systems.

                  I'm not saying all people are born with an aptitude for higher math, but that some education systems doom the average student to failure or limits below their potential.

                  The proof of this is how many creative types become awesome programmers once they lose their virginity and realize they can "do it", the invisible math, that is.

                  Take a group of randomly selected 4 year olds to an Apple Store and sit them down at the kiddie tablet table. In 10 minutes they have taught each other the basic skills. Leave them there a few hours and they are exploring apps and teaching themselves/each other. Watched my kid do it at home with a iPhone before taking her to the shop to see how she would do with a tablet. Pretty convincing.

                  Why? Because of 3 special things:

                  (1) A table to sit at with other kids

                  (2) Free computers for everyone

                  (3) No adults holding them back

                  Seriously, education is failing millions of people world-wide, maybe billions.

                  Read this : English. Spanish. Pretty interesting.

                  It's not just about "Genius". It's about potential. Everyone has more than it seems.

              •  My daughter's college roommate is a lit major (7+ / 0-)

                She got her Master's in lit at Cambridge (the one in England) and could have gone on for her PhD if she could have secured funding.

                She couldn't get the money, so she moved back to the states and for the last few years has worked as a programmer, and as an actual programmer - not just an HTML jockey.

                In the 60s and 70s - when programming, at least the corporate IT type - wasn't taught in colleges or tech schools much, a lot of women migrated into the field, probably from secretarial or keypunch type positions, as well as liberal arts majors. They were doing things like COBOL and JCL and MRP, most of which is a lot more difficult than writing, say, a Python application or a modern web application. I worked with some who were doing tech sales for companies like DEC or AT&T. My brother-in-law's partner was in that cohort of early 70s female programmers with no tech background and had a successful career writing applications for the bank she worked for that were marketed to a lot of other banks, and later did software for several large cities.

                Nobody is sitting around devising faster sort algorithms and very few people are worrying about successors to B-tree indexing or SQL database basics - that would take some serious knowledge of computer science. A few people at the NSA are worrying about making random number generation less robust so they can decrypt more easily. Instead, most programmers are solving problems, and while, as an engineer,  I would advocate good, formal training in the discipline of problem solving, people who are capable of getting a liberal arts degree are quite capable of using higher level tools to program solutions to corporate and other technical problems. It might take a few weeks of training and 6 months of close supervision.

                But they'd want a higher salary than someone from China or India who got an undergraduate degree in the US and needs an excuse to stay here legally for another year.

                No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

                by badger on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 09:15:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  The differene was they were willing to give (4+ / 0-)

            her the benefit of the doubt

            Many people of color and women don't get that too often

            I have met attorneys who have lucked out to be in the right place at the right time so they were with people who saw beyond race

            A prominent GC that I know through an acquaintance was like this. She happened to be lucky to have a white partner who made it a priority to not race to affect who could prove themselves productive.

            Others, like my friend, wasn't so long as he had a partner who essentially kept pretending that my friend wasn't until my friend played a trick on him.

            He essentially wrote briefs for some of the white associates and allowed them to use the briefs under their name. the white partner loved the briefs and asked the friend who wrote them for the other associates why can't he write like that?

      •  It is even more diffuse. (6+ / 0-)

        If you talk about "Tech Economy", then you can also include the legion of barristas  from Daley City to all points south and east, cuz coders need coffee.

        If you talk "Tech Jobs", people are everywhere, not just in the IT clusters where the higher paid workers live.

        Ringing these tech clusters are 2nd tier suburban digital sweatshops where the grunt work of the digital economy, the content, gets produced, largely by "contractors" who do the equivalent of piecework. Increasingly this is off-shored. Ironically, 10-20 years ago such jobs were pitched as the creative future of IT, but this has proven as delusional as "Become a Cartoonist!". Few make big bucks, most toil in office parks.

        And then there are the "great invisibles" (I call them) who are the sysadmins, programmers and app practitioners dotting the landscape all over the place. People forget about these jobs because they are "positions" or "tasks" not companies.  Some of these jobs are actually the better ones because every company needs at least a few people that can fix the fucking email or run the CAD station. Sometimes it good to be a middle fish in a small pond.

        All of these jobs need skills, and I think it will become more diffuse not less so.

        In the future, anyone who wants employment above the basic service sector will need some of these skills. Less "special" and more "essential", like air or water.

    •  Industry stats tell us the make up (4+ / 0-)

      of the industry for both women and Black and Latinos are way below the population averages.

      We may not know the stats for technical skills actually needed, but most companies are quired by the EEOC to track race, gender etc.

      In fact, those numbers are likely skewed to favor "there is no race problem" arguments because below a certain number, companies aren't required to count, and the fact, is amongst startups versus say the bigger companies, the culture is even worse.

      In the startup culture, of which I am focused on the major epicenters like Silicon Alley or Silicon Valley, if you start following companies like on TechCrunch to see who is getting the funding, and looking at their staff, you can see it.

      Whatever you have experienced anecdotally has little to do with the statistical numbers that are coming up.

      Its so bad in NYC that even Bloomberg (must stop and frisk himself) felt compelled to try to change the numbers as far as programming opportunities to train young coders of color

      Now, as I said above, the real "tell" is actually not amongst the coders. I believe that can be explained away based on technical skills although you seem to make the opposite argument here.

      What can't be explained is why is the non-technical side  mostly White and Asian male.

      By the way, I am actually a lawyer. I am used to an industry based on status, and I know what status looks like. Richard and I have been discussing that very issue. I know how to look at an issue to see ways to determine "is it status" or something else? That's why I am looking at the jobs that don't require technical skills in the tech sector. They tell the tale.

      Your anecdote unfortunately reminds me of this White female who was a class mate in law school. She and I went in for the same job. She got the job, and kept wondering, despite the fact, she had lower grades than me, what was "wrong with me" because they didn't want me. The difference was privilege. The white interviewer who interviewed her gave her every opportunity to connect. With me, he spent half the time on the phone or leaving the room to talk while he was supposed to be conducting the interview. I wish I could say that was unusual. I have had worse. Even at jobs that I;ve gotten. For example, the current employer who I ama bout to leave admonished me for not fitting in because I said "Y'all" once and the company is "mostly white bread"

      My point is no one is going to be as blunt as this CEO was. The lesson for me there was that my abilities were second to what she says since "y'all" whatever it is, isn't racial.

      This anecdote is backed by stastical data about outcomes. I don't believe they are random or can explained away due to technical skills. In fact, your argument tends to defeat the technical skills argument.

      •  There is such an extensive web of denial (6+ / 0-)

        and evasion that it is very difficult to drag those realities out onto the table. I don't think that government agencies like the EEOC are putting much energy into it.

        •  In the real world, such cases, even if (5+ / 0-)

          one were so inclined to pursue them would be difficult to impossible to prove or do anything about them.

          Even if the EEOC wanted to have done something about it at its height of power (those days are long gone), it couldn't handle modern race issues.

          Except for the one slip up about "y'all" denoting "race" rather than regional differences that told me where the CEO's mind was and that of the other executive who mentioned it to her, there was never, as you know, any mention expressly about race. it just came up in subtle ways like I didn't "fit" the culture.

          That's all code for "race", privilege and in this case "we  want to bury our heads in the sand about business practices that you may be right about but its you saying it rather than someone we trust"

          I could link them directly to citations that verbatim said what I said, and he was still just blown off as my perspective. Some fo that was racial discomfort. Some of it was just thei other management  problems.

          Can you imagine Bill Clinton being told he lacks ability to do the job because he says y'all? The real point is that I was saying something that made them uncomfortable by stating what needed to happen policy wise in something they weren't experts on, so they need to put me in my place.

          How do I prove that? I can't. Its just the logic of the exchange because other wise, why even go there about race since anyone living in the U.S. knows there's nothing racial about "y'all"

      •  In your paragraph after 'I am actually a lawyer', (5+ / 0-)

        in many of the interviews I may very well have been given lots of room to 'connect'.  In the 22 months that I was unemployed, I went on many interviews.  In the vast majority of the positions, I was interviewed by white people and about equal in gender.

        I do say y'all quite a bit, as I lived in Biloxi, MS for 8 years.  I've never had anyone comment negatively about that.  Although last month they did laugh because I applied a heavy southern accent to it - but half my co-workers work in St Petersburg, FL (where one is a black female and one is a Columbian male - everyone else on the team (8) is white), one in NC and one in Kentucky.

        I live in central eastern Iowa.  We're mostly white, so I cannot say anything about people of color and their experience in the tech world, only what I've experienced.  But, I can see where Sillycon Valley would tend to favor whites and asian over people of color because it is a very status conscience world there.  I can't say that I can understand why though.

        •  My opinion? (5+ / 0-)

          a. Large number of conservatives

          b. Large number of younger coder seeking dollars for their "killer" app

          c. Model based on finding VC dollars (which is a limited pool) for tech ideas that may or may not be all that great or even original

          d. Related to all of the above - hype. Some of its real. Some of its not. Some ideas are truly ground breaking and ground changing, and some not. I am not sure its relates well to Silicon vally other than access to money.

          In such a cocktail, its just easier to exclude "exotic" (that was what I was called once) flavors to keep the tast es in line with expectations.

      •  I work for a hi- tech company that has a very (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Richard Lyon, koNko

        diverse work force.  This includes AA, Indian, Asian and Hispanic men and women. We have a lot of recent college grads that appear to have a very bright future.

        •  That's good, but again not the norm (4+ / 0-)

          Go to TechCrunch. Start looking up the make up of the companies that are getting VC funding

          Or, just go to industry events. It starts to come home to you pretty quick that the stats are right rather than being somehow mistaken

          In the worst of the Jim Crow laws, there was always some exceptions. Some black person doing something that was out of the norm for most other black people. That didn't mean there wasn't segregation

          •  And you're talking mostly about VC start ups. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JeffW

            My experience has been in established corps that must use tech to stay competitive (Transamerica, Caterpillar, UIHC, MCI, etc) and view tech as a necessary evil, which costs the company money.

          •  You think that VC/startups are "the norm"? (0+ / 0-)

            I'd suggest that a far better "norm" would be the tech companies among the Fortune 500.  They're usually the most firmly established, have the largest payrolls, and support the most expansive operations.

            What's more determinative of "the norm" - a 20-person startup or 300,000-employee IBM?

            Looking at the 2013 Fortune 500, we have:

               6: Apple
                15: HP
                20: IBM
                35: Microsoft
                49: Amazon
                51: Dell
                54: Intel
                55: Google
                60: Cisco Systems
                80: Oracle
                131: Xerox
                133: EMC
                176: Computer Sciences
                163: Jabil Circuit
                194: Qualcomm
                196: eBay
                218: Texas Instruments
                222: Western Digital
                240: SAIC
                267: CDW
                270: Liberty Interactive
                302: Applied Materials
                304: Motorola Solutions
                318: Micron Technology
                326: Corning
                327: Broadcom
                352: Congnizant Technology Solutions
                379: Symantec
                408: NetApp
                420: Sanmina
                429: Harris
                436: Booz Allen Hamilton Holding
                441: NCR
                473: Priceline.com
                464: AMD
                477: Avaya
                482: Facebook
                487: SanDisk
                489: Pitney Bowes
                494: Yahoo
                499: CA Technologies
            (Source: venturebeat.com)

            It should be noted that this is just one writer's definition of "tech companies;" as he noted in his article, one could argue that companies such as AT&T and Verizon have become "tech companies" in their own right.

            Don't those companies represent "the norm" for "the tech industry"?

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 07:54:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  who cares about a particular technology (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, mmacdDE

      all programming languages are provably computationally equivalent. if you understand that (basic foundations) you can pick up any of them. and usually someone who hires and knows the technology will understand that, and someone who is looking at a checklist can be bullshited around.

      •  The filters on the computerized application (6+ / 0-)

        system cares a whole lot.  You first must get beyond that in order to talk to an HR person where you may have a chance to talk your way around the lack of matching the checklist.

        I completely agree if you understand the basic principles of programming, you can pick up any language.

        •  One of the best things a person who wants to stay (5+ / 0-)

          Fully employed in the tech world is the ability to fudge on the resume, and exaggerate in the job interview. I don't know how many friends I had who have told HR they could do such and such, and then said they couldn't start work till 2 weeks from Monday, and then learned or started to learn whatever it was the job required.

          And then there was that guy back in Ohio (?) a few years back - he employed someone in India to do his work as a programmer for him. If he had just used his own phone line and not his employers' phone, and his private email and not his work email, no one would have ever been the wiser. He'd probably be senior management by now!

          •  My trick is this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EliseMattu, nchristine

            Since the resume scanners are just looking for keywords, and they also read cover letters, I put in a sentence that says something along the lines of "Although I do not have 5 years experience in Language XY as your request calls for, I do have some experience with it and I have worked on Language AB for three years which is very similar in concept."

            (Gotta love it when Language XY has only really been in official existence for two years.)

            Having the phrase "5 years experience in XY" in the cover letter gets the resume through the keyword scanners, and ideally into the hands of a recruiting agent.  It worked at least once for me - and landed me my cushy analyst job.

            The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

            by catwho on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:29:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not really (5+ / 0-)

      I can speak about Chinese education if not Indian.

      Chinese schools stress basic math and science in primary and secondary schools, and as computer resources have become cheaper and available, they have embraced them.

      The system does NOT churn out, as you suggest, armies of people trained in specific applications and that would be foolish since those tend to be moving targets.

      What the system turns out is armies of young people who have basic skills and the idea that tech sector jobs are worth aspiring to, and on their own they develop skills in particular applications/disciplines.

      The elites with high level skills tend to be like they are anywhere, kids who start coding early (usually pre-teens) and make the most of the adolescent learning curve to gain knowledge and develop skills.

      The ones that show up in the US or EU are usually above average in ability and with sufficient language skills to make the cut, and these kids are usually pretty hard working or they would never make the grade.

      But given the population and median age of China and India, that's many millions of students. And because they look different, they stick out when employed inWestern countries, hence the White/Asian Male thingy.

      I think, too, we need to differentiate the abilities needed to do higher level coding and routine production coding and applications. Few people possess the ability to do the former so they get sucked up fast and there is a perpetual shortage. This means there is opportunity for some people to upgrade their skills and knowledge to fill some gaps, but how do they get that opportunity, you ask?

      They pursue it by getting more training or self-teaching, but I do think there are educational gaps everywhere that need to be corrected.

      However, the higher level jobs are concentrated in certain geographic clusters and companies that attract many and hire few so they get to skim off the cream for those high paid positions. Step down from there and the salaries drop precipitously, so the additional education can be a hard sell.

      Personally, I encourage education starting as early as possible and my 5 year old daughter is already computer literate to a point it kind of scary, but the kids are little sponges at that age and will learn pretty much whatever is put in front of them. Parents can do more if they have the notion to.

      Unfortunately my recent diary promoting such education got mostly neglected:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      But it's never to early or too late to learn if you have the desire.

    •  Being now in my early sixties, I can remember (3+ / 0-)

      The great enthusiasm my friends who were computer geniuses had in regards to continually learning and mastering the next new "Big Thing." But eventually people burn out. The constant need to upgrade one's skills, day in and day out over a 30 or 40 year time period is a source of frustration that few other industries experience.

      If you are an eye surgeon, the basic structure of the eye does not change over the decades. Occasionally there may be some new approach to eye surgery, but the eyeball remains  the eyeball.

      In the computer world, all the hardware, the software, the devices etc are in a state of constant flux. So no longer does an individual who is getting older have a sense of experience, with the respect that comes along with that experience, but instead faces a continual reminder that their career chances are only as good as the several hundred hours they need to put into learning that next new "Big Thing."

  •  umm, its true. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, limpidglass, mimi, mmacdDE, koNko, FG

    We are constantly looking for qualified people and find it increasingly difficult to find sufficient quality - here in middle Europe. And when we look at qualified people, the ratio of extra-EU to intra-EU candidates is something like 3:2. Our laws are quite similar (need to demonstrate to have searched interior before allowed to take exterior etc).

    Just now, in Germany - by chance I read a news tidbit. EU wide,free mobility regulations are coming into effect with the yearturn allowing bulgarians and romanians free mobility. That prompted the usual suspects to proclaim that that would just mean a wave of "poverty migrants" and that the doors better be kept shut. Well the German Industry & Commerce Chamber spoke up and said they estimate that in the next years Germany has to import 1.5 million "Facharbeiter" (technically qualified personnel, can be anything from a specialised crane operator to a nuke specialist) since they cant get it anymore out of the country.

    You say "something does not fit", but I can assure you, since I see the industry side, seen from there its true. Even in a center of manufacturing industry like here in central Europe, the amount of homegrown sufficiently qualified people is not enough. I find therefore such claims from the US entirely credible.

    The problem lies in what constitutes qualifiaction. that I think is totally a wild card, different people mean totally different things by it and thats a source of great confusion.

    •  I saw an article about German tech employment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, greengemini, koNko

      in the international edition of Der Spiegal. Certainly most industrialized countries produce a regular crop of bright and capable college graduates. Generally more than they have jobs for. If the tech industry is really having difficulty filling necessary jobs, then somewhere there should be a means of bridging the gap.

      •  That's why I stress education (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, FG, Phoenix Woman

        Coding skills are not some secret mojo that only big brains with dark glasses can master. We need to demystify the subject and make it a basic part of education people learn.

        But most educations systems DO NOT.

        So what we are saying is:

        Now and in the future we need all of these people with skills so we're not going to train them because that is the key to success.
        Sound a bit crazy?

        Here is a neat infographic to explain the problem.

        •  Nice graphic, but how about just a link next time? (0+ / 0-)

          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

          by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 08:02:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and as far as AP Computer Science goes... (0+ / 0-)

          ...the real question is not how many students take the test, but rather how many schools offer the course.

          For instance, our high school offers AP courses in English, Spanish, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, World History, US Government, US History, Calculus and Statistics - but not Computer Science.

          It isn't just a question of getting kids to take the course; it's a question of convincing schools to offer the course AND finding suitable faculty to teach AP-level computer science.

          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

          by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 08:04:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  That's interesting, they need 1.5 million (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, kyril, greengemini, koNko

      Facharbeiter? How do you become a "Facharbeiter" in Germany. In the old days (and I don't know if anything has changed on that front) companies offered and had to train "apprentices" for three years to become someone, who had the skill to be qualified as a "Facharbeiter" in a certain field. Another three years and you became a "Meister".

      So, if they don't train enough of those anymore, I want to know why. As far as I remember companies were requested to train each year a certain number of "Lehrlinge (Apprentices)" dependent on the size of the companies. I think it was mandatory.

      Don't the companies exist anymore? Do not enough younger people choose to go through this kind of second-tier education (nowadays may be there are more people going to specific "Fachhochschulen" and to Universities thus ending up for more academic careers?

      What is lacking? The number of companies, who are willing or expected to train theses people, or the number of people who are willing anymore to get trained in such a way?

      Here in the US I think you don't even have such a structured path for obtaining technical skills in many specialties.

      The German Embassy in Washington DC engages in a program called Skills Initiative: Enhancing German-American Cooperation on Workforce Training, which is structured more along the lines German companies train their workforce. That means the same kind of training doesn't exist much in the US.

      So, I ask myself, what has happened in Germany that they lack 1.5 million "Facharbeiter". Do you know if their is an age limitation to be eligible to get that training? May be Germany should loosen those limitations. I don't know, am out of the loop after being here in the US 31 years.

      •  Oh, both. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, mimi, kyril, koNko

        It´s a confluence of two effects.

        The overriding effect is that there are nowadays only 1.3 kids per woman in Germany. This means the workforce is aging faster than young people can grow up to replace them.

        The second strong effect - exacerbating the first substantively I think - is basically what you call,

        Do not enough younger people choose to go through this kind of second-tier education (nowadays may be there are more people going to specific "Fachhochschulen" and to Universities thus ending up for more academic careers?
        developments come together here.
        (1) technical skill requirements generally have risen to the point that a Fachhochschule is really desired, for high qualified engineering jobs, while traditional intracompany education jobs are most prone to automatisation
        (2) of those people considereing such a higher education at all at such a young age, so many people get lured off to management or services type educations that not enough remain in the engineering educations.

        so the system is under pressure from all sides as you see. Not enough young people, ever rising requirements in qualification, and a sinking of attractiveness of the arduous slog through this education to the young people.

        in effect, the lack of this kind of qualified people is threatening to become an economic brake on Germany all by itself. So industry wants to open up Germany as wide as possible! (Including our company though we arent German nominally.) But the people dont want to let outsiders in. Not if they are any shade of brown skinned or otherwise ungermanic.

    •  People don't magically spring into existence (16+ / 0-)

      with 5 years of experience on the specific technologies you want them to work on. Yes, most tech sector applicants can be assumed to have a fair amount of experience on hobby projects, but not professional experience. We don't all have shipped products. Not all of us are ready to launch our own start-ups in our senior year of high school.

      You can, to a certain extent, get people pre-trained by basically requisitioning them from colleges and universities in developing countries (or from for-profit American universities) which are willing to take orders for specific skill sets. But then you're not getting a college graduate with a well-rounded education. You're getting someone who may be extremely bright, talented, and motivated (especially if you went the developing-country route rather than the for-profit route), but whose training was vocational rather than academic.

      If you really want the kind of quality you say you want, you need to start hiring a lot more new college/university graduates with degrees in STEM fields and well-rounded skill sets. You need to start training and certifying us. You can't just expect to offload the cost of the training and certification onto other companies, because other companies aren't doing it.

      You can, I suppose, expect to offload it onto the students themselves, but that's going to continue to exclude from your hiring pool the vast majority of bright and intellectually-curious American, Canadian, Australian, and European students who invest in an academic education rather than a vocational one. And as domestic industry in developing countries grows, you're going to  see that pool of applicants shrink as well.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 06:09:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  From my perspective (7+ / 0-)

    I have worked in a few different industries, but none is so incestuous as the tech industry, an industry my husband has worked in since 1998. People in it, especially middle management and higher tend to follow each other around from company to company, recommending each other's friends for jobs. Retail doesn't even have that level of inside advantage. Until that changes, there are likely to be few changes as to who gets let into this industry.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 04:15:35 PM PST

    •  I worked in it for several years before (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moviemeister76, mimi, kyril, greengemini, eyo

      I retired and that is also my impression.

    •  Yes, I agree. See this quite a bit. (5+ / 0-)

      Hard to break through that cycle. Even if you get in the door, you are the outsider

      •  And there are inducements not to break it (5+ / 0-)

        For instance, my husband now has a six-figure salary because of it. When you are directly benefiting in that way, it is incredibly difficult to break the cycle.

        Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

        by moviemeister76 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 05:20:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  on the one hand (0+ / 0-)

        if I already know someone is good, why would I bother looking for someone else. on the other hand, it can't always be the same people, obviously new ones come in all the time.

        •  Two unfounded assumptions you are making (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greengemini

          1. Who is they? The technical people? Not even sure that's always true. The management? Definitely not always true. e.

          A few are good. Many are average. Too many are subpar to incompetent.

          2. Again data says no to "new ones come in al the time"

          That's tech rag myth. You have to look passed hype to get at the data.

          •  er (0+ / 0-)

            I've seen #1 IRL (and was on both hiring and getting hired end of that) - why would anyone hire someone that wouldn't benefit them? I wouldn't.

            2. How can data say that? The industry is growing, and people move on/retire - so new people have to come in.

            •  Bell curve & Definitions of "Good" (0+ / 0-)

              I  described above the basic bell curve. People you know are likely just to be a few good, most in the middle and some bad. You seem to be saying they are all very good because you were involved in the process. I am sure many were adequate. that doesn't make them stellar.

              As for benefit, benefit to what end exactly? Read:

              http://www.forbes.com/...

              http://blogs.hbr.org/...

              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

              http://aphyr.com/...

              •  Yea, I've read the HuffPost thing (0+ / 0-)

                It seems to be erasing immigrants from its discussion. Ouch.

              •  to wit (0+ / 0-)

                The help each other thing as described is practiced in many immigrant communities, is that a bad thing as well?

                Plus, this thread was talking about the tech industry. There is clearly a lot of immigrant influx not all of whom are insiders. They clearly are not any white manager's golfing buddy, but yet there they are.

                Since this thread is about tech industry - over 50% of startups are founded by immigrants (number from the first part of Wadhwa's Inc article)  - to be sure, in the second part (http://wadhwa.com/...) he addresses a similar diversity problem.

                •  The immigrant community has a number of (0+ / 0-)

                  organizations that help 'sell' their candidates into jobs.  
                  Some of the organizations are formal,  with catchy names, places to meet, events and outreach programs.  Some are attached to educational institutions.

                  Others are informal, like what is called the Indian Immigrant Mafia.

                  Some are for profit, like the single nationality job shops that push their candidates into visa program jobs -- they do everything to deliver to the client, including the legal work, housing, and daily transportation to deliver the worker to the clients door.  

                  The whole problem of properly identifying talents and training to specific tech jobs has gotten so complicated that a lot of selling, convincing, and 'gratuities' go into getting a person placed into available positions.    It's really ripe for corruption.   Hence the need for people with track records, connections, and some amount of 'trust' accrued.  

                  Most people I see having gotten into good tech jobs have some sort of organization behind them.  The lone applicant, no matter how talented, won't get the job unless he collaborates with people who have established channels into the organizations in question.  

                  •  yes, there is formal and informal organization (0+ / 0-)

                    in the immigrant community

                    and thats' a good thing, is it not? it's not just a white boy network then.

                    •  Sorry I stumbled into bigot land -- (0+ / 0-)

                      but what I was trying to say is that nobody finds a tech job by themselves based on their qualifications -- they have to be part of a larger quazi-organization to get 'funneled' into the job through connections.  They have to run a gauntlet of sorts to get vetted before anybody will read their applications.

                      If you want a job, you have to network -- and that means joining/cozying up to the groups that can vet them and recommend them and help with timing their application into a tech company when the job is open.  

                      You usually can't find that job by yourself -- you have to get eased in by your friends, colleagues, relatives, and academic fellows.   Or outright buy it.  

                      •  Right... (0+ / 0-)

                        Where's bigot land, I'm sorry?

                        My question was how do immigrants muster these quasi-organizations?

                        •  Bigot land is where white people go to apologize (0+ / 0-)

                          for inadvertent unintended racial slurs, innuendoes, or clumsily worded explanations.  

                          There are a number of immigrant/American born ethnic/gender based organizations in Silicon Valley that have a definite presence.   Some may have a web site, that you can find with search engines, others are just loose groups of 'friends' who know each from having gone to school together, worship together, have worked together in the past, or have family connections.  Association of Asian Professionals once had a web site -- they had mixers, meet and greets, and a newsletter for a while.  

                          There are also some women-based associations trying to support women in STEM and other professional areas.

                          There is a very active Indian community in the Fremont Area that blocks off most of the downtown areas in the past couple of years that has a huge festival, will all kinds of booths where you can chat your way around and meet people.   Likewise there are chapters of Toastmasters clubs that are heavily one nationality or another,  groups that have organized to take care of their senior parents, after school tutoring clubs,  the Indian doctors in Fremont have  a group that sponsors a health fair for outreach to people that otherwise wouldn't see a doctor.  

                          When I grew up, after the huge wave of immigration that occurred after 1900,  there were lots of groups that people did business/socialized through -- Son's of Italy,  Portuguese IDES, Masonic Brotherhood,  Knights of Columbus was mostly Irish Catholic, Sons of Norway, Kaleva, even the Chinese Family Associations  -- many had insurance and burial programs as well as serving very real support to people in need and getting them started in America .

                           Rotary was for local business people, Lions Clubs for Community Service -- and there have always been the Alumni associations for various colleges.  Stanford has a really active one, that supports their graduates, as well as seeking donations and support for the University.

                          The Morman Church, I have been told, keeps a very thorough job and occupation listing that members can network through to find work or line up reliable workers through.

                          Some of these organizations have really high bars to entry and are impossible to get into, or you have to be 'tapped on the shoulder' to join after being observed.    Others you can smooze your way into.  

                          People who worked for the power company used to joke that you had to inherit your job from a parent or uncle -- no joke, really, they used to celebrate people there that were third or forth generation workers in the company newsletter.  

                           Oh, there used to be something called 'The Engineers Club' in San Francisco that had it's own building where many Civil, Electrical, and Architectural engineers/professions used to meet -- people from Bechtel and PG&E and the bridge builders,hydro, big projects people used to meet there to influence policy all over the world.  

                          The business section of the newspaper used to have a listing on Wednesdays about all the business/professional meetings -- going to those would be a start to getting connected.   Also follow up with people you already know, or have a connection with your education or cultural groups.

                          I have had good luck making connections through several civic service organizations, but my aspirations were pretty simple and local.    Also went to school out of state, so Alumni association wasn't too helpful.

                          It is really hard to keep up a social/connected life with present salaries and hours of work -- it is hard to pay for drinks at a local establishment if you can't write it off -- dues and membership can be pretty steep -- you have to boil down your living costs to the minimum, don't get so frazzled at work that you can't be friendly, and always think Win-Win.    You have to contribute as much as you take!  

        •  All I can tell you is (0+ / 0-)

          Many of the "new hires" my husband's company has hired in the past year were people who had already worked for this company but were asked to take 6-9 months off with compensation to save the company some money. It's how the company handled downsizing during this economic downturn. They just waited until they had more money, and then rehired the same people.

          And many other people who were hired were friends of someone already in the company. In the seven years my husband has been with this company, only a couple of temps have been hired without actually knowing someone who works there. Everyone who was hired permanently had an inside tip. It's the way it works.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 10:47:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Unions.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, eyo, DBoon

    Use to provide the necessary training for workers to advance in their careers...I did through Teamsters Local 959, albeit in a less technically complicated world.  

    •  I see an "in" for unions here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine, Balto, Phoenix Woman

      technical certification courses can cost $3,000 to $4,000 each, for a week of training and exam-prep.

      While less true now, many certifications require experience on very expensive hardware or software products.

      A union that would sharply discount these would be a good thing, and may help erode anti-union sentiments among tech workers.

      Employers may also realize that while union employees cost more, the experience and knowledge would compensate well for the cost.

  •  What is the size of the hole we have to fill? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ranger1, JeffW

    About 23 million under/unemployed people in the US.

    What will it take to fill the hole?

    Solar/wind/grid work will employe about 1.5-1.8 million, looking ahead 20 yrs.

    Solar thermal & pumped hydro storage systems 350k-500k people by 2030.

    Infrastructure can easily employ 20 million over 5 years, 12-15 million 5-20 years forward.

    All of these jobs do or will pay more than median wage for a make working full time year round of 36k. Many of these jobs will pay 50k-70k. Offshore wind jobs will pay 100k.

    These jobs represent a much larger pot of gold for the average worker, than do tech jobs.

    The good news is when looking forward, these jobs will shirk the overall labor pool which is probably a good thing for the average tech worker.

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 05:22:58 PM PST

  •  "Tech" jobs come in different flavors (4+ / 0-)

    At the top of the pyramid, are some highly paid elites culled from the masses of applicants and these people are hired on the basis of their ability or potential, and get lavished with cappuccino, bus seats and unlimited opportunity to work as long as they wish in a suburban setting. They famously trend toward the white/asian male stereotype although there are a fair number of others that sneak past the gate to join these neighborhood destroyers preyed-upon by enterprising landlords.

    I think the larger question is how we get enough qualified people to fill the 2nd and 3rd tier tech jobs that pay livable but middling wages at best, and tend to be more specific in nature, i.e., the labor pool of system admins, applications practitioners and low level coders that make our maps, email and porno work.

    This pool is really what I would consider to be the machinists and tool makers of the industry, people who have portable skills they can take from site to site, given the tendency for the work to be "contracted".

    One answer is we need more "vocational" training, and so the question arises again, if education systems should bifurcate in secondary schools such as Germany and some Asian systems do - I realize this sounds distasteful to Americans with the idea that every man is a king (or can be) but the alternative is you have all these grads "without skills" and no one to teach them, given the fact companies don't want to do it.

    This is why I support early education in coding and computer skills. I believe that kids that get that will have better fundamental skills to employ technology and find employment in a future where humans that can't interface with machines to advantage will become expendable.

    That's a pretty dystopian outlook from one perspective, but I think the answer, as always, is that education that develops skills is the answer.

    Too many people really lack basic skills and it puts them at a great disadvantage. The thought that we (globally) are raising  another generation without skills is scary because most of them will be poor.

    So I support early basic education. Start them young.

    •  Your first two paragraphs illustrate that (0+ / 0-)

      there's a conceptual problem that a lot of people aren't seeing. The people in your first paragraph hold what are essentially "engineer" positions, while the people in your second paragraph are essentially "technicians". There's a lot more demand for the latter than the former, but the former are what most people think of when they hear "technical occupations".

      Therefore, people worry about whether we have enough CS majors to fill all the sysadmin and database programming positions we're going to have. But CS is essentially an engineering degree, and it makes no sense at all to require it for technician-type positions. We don't do that in any other technical field. We don't try to solve nursing shortages by encouraging more people to go to med school.

      A big part of the problem is that we frequently divide the adult population into those with only a high school diploma and those with a four-year degree. There are lots of educational alternatives in between those, but we pretend they don't exist. And those intermediate levels are historically where the technician class comes from.

      Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

      by ebohlman on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:10:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry my late reply (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ebohlman

        Yes, technicians, if you will.

        But seems to be a dirty word.

        •  It's worth pondering just (0+ / 0-)

          why it's become a dirty word. There seems to be this notion that any job that doesn't require a high level of academics must exist only to accommodate those who don't have enough ability to pursue a high level of academics. This is a pure form of supply-side economics. Talent doesn't automatically create demand for itself except in a few fields, most notably entertainment.

          In any case, to the extent that there's a shortage of technicians (as opposed to simply a shortage of technicians who refuse to work for peanuts), trying to solve it by increasing the supply of engineers is at best like looking for your keys where the light is best rather than where you dropped them. At worst, it's a deliberate attempt to lower the pay of both technicians and engineers.

          Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

          by ebohlman on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:04:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Reagan and the politics of scarcity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman

    Him again.

    CALIFORNIA WEIGHS END OF FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION

    Today, paychecks from GOOG, APPL, MSFT, MONOPOLY, etc., portions of salaries go straight to the banks for debt repayment Nice racket they have there.

    There's a radical notion that information and knowledge should be free. The rest of the world is catching on again, but here in the US we are saddled with the "intellectual property" lie. That's my 2 cents.

    Thank you for the discussment ;)

    •  "intellectual property" lie (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyo, JeffW, Phoenix Woman

      Maybe the Constitution has an answer for that:

      Patents only for real things, i.e. if you can't bounce it off the wall, kick it across the room it is not patentable. Renewal of patents only while the original patent is still in force and only for SIGNIFICANT changes or enhancements. No cosmetic or "other uses".

      Copyrights back to the original 14-15 years, and the material has to stay in print or be available. I.E. windows xp, IBM's OSes go out of copyright when the company refuses to provide copies, not service just copies at a contemporary cost.

      Copyrighted material has to be freely and conveniently viewable by the public, no games as in "at the company archives in Greenland on 4th of July with a full moon". No more "it's secret source but we can't show you" code a la the SCO Linux lawsuit.

  •  This is a huge issue (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    atana, JeffW, Phoenix Woman, Clues

    1) There is strong evidence (see Norm Matloff) that the H-1B is used as an age-discrimination vehicle
    2) As many have noted, there is a commodification of persons - you are a skill, not a person. Once the skill is elimimated, so is the widget-person
    3) The process of employment is driven by HR. HR is not able to understand talent. They understand ONLY skills. If a skill combination is "required", HR considers that adequate supply of widget-persons ONLY if all skills are there. In many cases, "purple squirrels" do not exist. Thus, we have a "skilled worker shortage". In reality, this is crap.
    4) At many companies, they want cheap labor. Before IPO, they use stock options. After IPO, they use H-1Bs. Look at MS, Facebook, etc. Over and over, the H-1B is used after the IPO to get more cheap labor.
    5) Many countries have laws requiring internal candidates get priority. The laws in the US are so weak and crappy that they are a joke. We need to require US candidates be given priority. The many thousands of FAKE JOB ADS are run to TECHNICALLY satisfy rules. The GOAL is NOT to hire. The goal of the ads is to run an ad which DOES NOT OBTAIN qualified candidates.
    6) If you have not seen it, watch the Cohen & Grigsby video. "The goal is NOT TO FIND A QUALIFIED US CANDIDATE". There is an entire industry of scum sucking immigration lawyers whose entire livelihood is made by bringing in foreign candidates to take jobs from US citizens.

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    •  I forgot to mention the J-1 visa (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Phoenix Woman

      If you are an employer hiring under the J-1 visa, you get a TAX BREAK when you hire non-US.

      You do not pay SS tax.

      You do not pay medicare tax.

      You do not pay federal unemployment insurance tax.

      This is a total savings of 8.5%.

      This allows employers like the MacDonald's guy in the headlines last year to hire UNDER MINIMUM WAGE.

      The J-1 brings in 500,000 workers which take jobs from US students.

      The J-1  brings in thousands and thousands of workers to national parks, which should be staffed by US citizens, but are staffed often by Chinese "students" and Irish and whatever. This is WRONG.

  •  US organizations bringing in Indian/foreign coders (5+ / 0-)

    This is my anecdotal evidence, garnered from 22+ years as an IT consultant. I was lucky when I started; most colleges didn't give four year IT major degrees and I started with an Assoc in Science (Computer) after having been a keypuncher and seeing the writing on the wall. I am also a woman and was very good at spec creation and documentation, tech writing, test development, help screen coding and development - all "nibbles" around the edges of hard core programming. I noticed, to an increasing degree, that many US companies where I consulted were bringing in foreign coders - Indians and Chinese, mostly. What took the cake for me, at my last account in 2006, was that this account - a leading Home and Car and God knows what else insurer based in the Midwest - hired such foreign contractors but what was left unspoken, they worked these guys (yes, almost exclusively men) 60+ hours a week. While paying them for 40 hours. What was the "tell"? I would come in in the morning, and see these same gentlemen, bleary-eyed and in the same clothes they wore for - in some instances - three days straight, working at their desks. Mind you, this insurance company was home based in a medium sized city that had TWO highly regarded state universities within the city boundaries so I suspect the company had to do some fancy footwork to justify bringing in foreign contractors when they had annual supplies of qualified, home grown IT grads to choose from. I was on very good terms with many of these foreign consultants, and got the real story about the number of hours they worked, the rate they were paid, and so forth. I am glad I am retired now, but I despise that company for its refusal to do right by the contractors they hired and for not hiring more workers from the ample labor pool within that city. I must also say that as a white woman, NO ONE ever tried to undercut my rate, force me to work outlandish hours, or treat me like an outsider. You had to be a person of color, and an alien, to be treated in such a manner. Despicable.

    •  Nobody ever seems to mention the fact that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoenix Woman

      companies that contract out labor, whether domestic or international,  are able to  eliminate a lot of the transparencies and obligations of being a direct employer.

      Farming out employment allows the company to avoid reporting true headcount, department budgets, costs of production, even accidents and osha reporting, that could help investors identify what is really happening.  

      Likewise, the contracts for employment can be 'rigged' any number of ways to benefit an individual or group of people in HR, or even in management.   Unseen deposits to foreign bank accounts are so easy to make.  So are selling 'perks' like meetings at golf courses and resort meccas.   Contributions to schools for specific scholarships to certain students is possible as well.  

      Has no one thought that some of the people working on these contracts are actually being "career pathed" through the companies for the benefit of much larger interests?

      Snowden was a contract worker, although he was hired through a domestic company.   Imagine if he had been a foreign hire?    

  •  Long Term Unemployed Masters & PhDs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Phoenix Woman

    Many of them have some programming experience and have done lots of analysis, but they can't find work in their own fields. Even with retraining (if it were available) the chances of the getting an IT job is essentially zero.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:16:15 AM PST

  •  As a senior level programmer... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Phoenix Woman, catwho

    I will not work at a job where you are generally put on crunch time until further notice...
    This is not how I want to live.
    The kids and foreign reign nationals will do that for a number of years until they either go home at the end of the 5 or figure out that it is a crock.
    I won't even apply anymore because it is an exercise in futility, send the requisite papers and get no answer... Of course no answer as the req said 2 years experience and a recent degree.
    I prefer to sit in my garage, type, and ship code regularly...

  •  Good essay, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman

    Let's continue to talk about the seeming contradiction of an over-abundance of workers, and many jobs going empty, supposedly because the particular skills those employers need, are rare.

    You haven't defined what is clearly an underlying problem, beyond describing its symptoms. This may be because there isn't an informed consensus as to what, exactly, the "problem" is. We aren't quite ready for talking points.  

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 03:39:53 PM PST

  •  Not sure robotics should still be part of this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman

    discussion:

    The products and services that are being created are actually reducing employment in other sectors of the economy. As the push for developments in robotics gains force, this is a trend that is accelerating.

    A critical question is just who is going to get the jobs building and programming the robots. The US tech industry has long maintained that they face great difficulty in finding people with the right skills to fill vacancies.

    I'm no expert, but it's my impression that the big automation push that started at the dawn of the Industrial Age and persisted well into the early Information Age has now largely petered out. Those jobs of the (not so) new "knowledge-intensive economy" are really overwhelmingly IT jobs, not jobs in robotics and automation. Meanwhile, robotics is still making great strides, but I don't see it still eating massive amounts of new jobs that haven't been eaten by automation decades ago. Like I said, I could be wrong.

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:32:08 PM PST

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