IT Worker Shortage?

Thursday, March 13, 2008 by Mistlee

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IT Worker Shortage?

By Dan Morrill

It is time to do the annual H1B visa process again this year, with its 65,000 allotted slots to bring foreign workers into the USA. Last year the allotment of H1B visas ran out in a day, this year promises to be more of the same, but are we really having an IT worker shortage, or are we having a skills shortage?

Frankly as a person who is hiring people all the time, it is more about skills than having enough candidates. Even with the hot and tight market for SDE's and SDET's here in Seattle, I have open jobs, I have people to match to them, it is getting the client to settle down and actually hire them.

Depending on which side of the debate you are on, that there is a worker shortage and we need H1B visas to smooth out the shortage, or there is not worker shortage what are you talking about, the view from this hiring manager is that it is really more about the quality of the worker rather than the availability of the worker.

The news is filled with dire predictions that we will lose our innovative headway if we don't do something, but that is more about the quality of workers. There is so much demand for the top 10% of workers, those that are truly creative and truly innovative that it almost seems like 90% of the market is being under served in the desire to find that top 10%.

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Wages are not stagnant for that top 10%, the competition for that top 10% is ruthless, but people are forgetting about the other 90% of the work force that while they may not be solving world problems, are excellent programmers, project managers, technical support personnel, and many other positions that are in a company. It is generally given that the top 10% carries most of the organization, but the odds of getting a true A level player is getting more and more difficult.

That is unless you open up the H1B visa program just for A level employees, which most of us are comfortable enough saying "this is not happening". From the perspective of the H1B visa worker, we often do not consider, but we should, because they might be getting " bilked" according to Business Week.

Realistically though, there are plenty of workers out there in IT, it is just the level of skills, requirements, and willingness to give up everything for the company that is lacking. This might be the fallout from the dot com bust, or it might also be the aging of the working population where family, friends, and life become more important. Working in a sweat shop is just not as popular as it used to be.

There will be no end to the debate, from my perspective though, I have workers, I know of open jobs, pay rates are established, I would be happy getting people through the interview process and going to work. I see this as more of a skills shortage rather than an actual worker shortage. It is complicated by stagnating wages, high cost of living, and desire for a family life, but it is still all about skills not about "enough people".


About the Author:
Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management. Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through his blog, Managing Intellectual Property & IT Security, and is an active participant in the ITtoolbox blogging community.

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