|/* Written 5:39 AM Mar 17, 1998 by firstname.lastname@example.org in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "Tec Bosses Close Doors To Older Wor" ---------- */
> From email@example.com Fri Mar 13 12:03:27 1998
> Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 11:54:25 -0800 (PST)
> From: Institute for Global Communications
> Subject: Tec Bosses Close Doors To Older Work
> Certainly the labor market is tight.
> Unemployment among computer scientists
> and programmers has dipped below 2
> But Peterson's story and those of
> other unemployed programmers suggest
> that there's more going on in
> America's high-tech labor market than
> a simple shortage of computer experts.
> Critics say other factors behind
> high-tech's hiring crunch include:
> -- Subtle age bias against older
> workers like Peterson.
> -- Rigid hiring practices that
> eliminate some potentially good
> -- An industry that changes rapidly,
> but has no organized strategy for
> retraining its longtime workers.
> -- Workers who don't take the
> initiative themselves in getting the
> new skills they need.
> ``High-tech companies want the right
> person with the right skills, who can
> go from from 0 to 60 miles per hour in
> 0 seconds flat,'' said Chris Benner of
> Working Partnerships, a nonprofit
> group affiliated with the South Bay
> Labor Council in San Jose.
> ``They all want young people right out
> of college who will give their lives
> to whatever project they're working
> on, putting in 70 or 80 hours a
> week,'' he said. ``But this raises big
> questions for older people. If they
> don't make a fortune in their first 10
> or 15 years, where do they go?''
> HIRING CRUNCH
> During the past two weeks, high-tech
> industry leaders have told Congress
> that they face a potentially
> devastating labor shortage. They've
> asked lawmakers to raise or eliminate
> the cap on temporary work visas, which
> currently allows 65,000 workers into
> the United States each year. T.J.
> Rodgers, chief executive of Cypress
> Semiconductor in San Jose, said his
> firm's situation is typical.
> ``We currently have 17 projects that
> aren't launched because I don't have
> the engineers to run them,'' Rodgers
> He said this engineering shortage
> limits overall job growth because
> every engineer he puts to work creates
> five additional jobs in manufacturing,
> sales and administration. ``I'm not
> trying to say the sky is falling,''
> Rodgers said. ``But there will be
> fewer native-born Americans employed
> one or two years from now if we do not
> raise the number of skilled engineers
> we can bring into the country.''
> All sides in this debate agree on one
> thing. The number of skilled computer
> jobs in America is growing by leaps
> and bounds -- from 1.5 million in 1996
> to an estimated 2.6 million in 2006.
> There's also no dispute that companies
> are fighting each other tooth and nail
> to get the people they want.
> ``Most applicants get two, three or
> four job offers,'' said Roger King, a
> recruiter with TechSearch in
> Sausalito. ``Some applicants don't
> even last a week (before they're hired
> by someone else).''
> The problem isn't a scarcity of
> Yahoo, which adds several technical
> people a month, gets hundreds of
> resumes a week. Cisco Systems, with
> 700 job openings worldwide, gets 2,500
> resumes a week.
> Managers say their problem is finding
> qualified candidates -- people with
> cutting-edge skills in the latest
> ``We get thousands of resumes a week,
> and most of the people are just not
> qualified,'' said Kenneth Alvares,
> vice president for human resources at
> Sun Microsystems. ``I'd say just 2
> percent of the jobs we fill are filled
> from resumes. Most of the jobs in our
> company are filled by referrals from
> other employees.''
> Companies say they can't take time to
> train prospective employees because
> technology moves too fast.
> ``Our product shelf life is less than
> a year,'' said Alvares. ``We need
> people in some jobs who are the
> epitome of the state of the art.''
> TOO SELECTIVE?
> However, critics say that companies
> are sometimes too selective. Norman
> Matloff, a computer science professor
> at the University of California at
> Davis, slams the computer industry for
> refusing to hire older programmers who
> just need to add a new skill or two.
> Some longtime programmers agree.
> ``Around Christmas, I applied for a
> job that had a list of 15
> requirements,'' said Bob Searles, 55,
> a San Jose expert in computer-assisted
> design technology who has attended six
> job fairs and mailed out 500 resumes
> since being laid off last September.
> ``I passed 13 of the requirements very
> favorably. There were just two I
> didn't have, but I understood exactly
> what they were looking for. I could
> have gotten up to speed in a month.''
> Matloff claims that high-tech firms
> refuse to hire older programmers
> because they cost more than foreign
> workers or recent college graduates --
> a charge that high-tech executives
> CLAIMS OF BIAS
> Other critics say the industry has a
> cultural bias against older workers --
> which in the young atmosphere of
> Silicon Valley can mean anyone over
> 40. ``Startups aren't interested in
> older people, partly because of the
> skill set but also because they're
> thinking, `This is some old guy who is
> set in his ways and won't think out of
> the box,' '' said C.D. Rowsell, 47, a
> longtime programmer and project
> manager who currently is looking for
> Bill McClaren, 51, believes that he
> ran into age discrimination during an
> interview last summer. ``As soon as
> the interviewer saw me and realized I
> wasn't 25 or 30, I saw this look on
> his face,'' said McClaren, an Oakland
> resident who has completed a 90- day
> class with the Bay Area Video
> Coalition aimed at retraining older
> workers for high-tech jobs. ``It said,
> `You can't work for me. You're too old
> to be at the cutting edge.' ''
> Meanwhile, David Gilliss, 51, says he
> gets a better response from potential
> employers when he masks his age.
> ``I have better luck when I only put
> jobs from 1980 onward on my resume,''
> said Gilliss, an unemployed high-tech
> manufacturing manager from Sunnyvale.
> ``Before I started doing that, one guy
> even looked at my resume and said,
> `Boy, you've had a lot of jobs.' ''
> High-tech industry officials deny any
> bias against older workers.
> They say any roadblocks lie with the
> the skills and attitudes of older job
> ``It doesn't have to do with age. It
> has to do with the skill set,'' said
> Jim Colby, regional human resources
> director for Sony Electronics in San
> Jose. ``If you're in your 30s and you
> have a skill set from the 1970s that
> you haven't upgraded, you'll be in as
> much trouble as if you were in your
> 60s or 70s.''
> Some company officials acknowledge
> that there are problems with the
> hiring procedures of many Silicon
> Valley firms.
> Recruiters sometimes don't understand
> technology or the actual skills needed
> for tech jobs.
> Software programs sort resumes by
> searching for key buzzwords --
> ignoring the possibility that a C++
> programmer could easily learn Java.
> ``The biggest mistake is made when
> people read resumes and they screen
> people out rather than screening
> people in,'' said Ken Perluss,
> technical recruiter for Yahoo. ``And
> the screening (software) programs
> really help them do that.''
> OLDER SUCCESSES
> Of course, some older people do land
> high-tech jobs, and their experience
> provides lessons to others who might
> want to try. Dan Jones was pushing 50
> two summers ago when he put 15 years
> of mainframe computing behind him and
> worked his way into San Francisco's
> youthful Multimedia Gulch. He recalled
> his first job interview. ``It was an
> intimidating experience,'' Jones said.
> ``I walked up the stairs, saw that
> room full of twentysomethings, and
> turned around and walked out.'' But he
> eventually landed a consulting job
> that ultimately led to his current
> position as a vice president at
> Novo/Ironlight, an Internet
> advertising agency in San Francisco.
> ``I'm afraid too often people my age
> want to get by on skills they learned
> 15 years ago,'' Jones said. ``That
> doesn't work. You have to keep the
> skills updated.''
> INDUSTRY'S ROLE
> The standard mantra in high-tech
> circles is that it's up to individuals
> to keep their skills current.
> But some observers suggest companies
> should play a bigger role in
> retraining older workers -- as a way
> to ease the hiring crunch without
> importing thousands of extra foreign
> ``I support temporary work visas to
> bring in the really top people, but
> not the kinds of people who could be
> trained in nine to 12 months,'' said
> Robert Lerman, an economist at
> American University and researcher at
> the Urban Institute in Washington,
> Some high-tech leaders concede the
> industry hasn't made an organized
> effort to retrain older workers or
> develop a workforce with the skills
> they need.
> Harris Miller, president of the
> Information Technology Association of
> America, compared high-tech to the
> National Football League.
> ``The NFL relies on the colleges and
> universities to fill their ranks, and
> our industry has been like that,'' he
> Miller said that today's hiring crunch
> is making firms think about new ways
> to develop talent. For example, the
> Massachusetts Software Council has had
> a 93 percent success rate at
> retraining 40- to 60-year-olds for
> software industry jobs.
> But such efforts are only in the
> formative stages. In the meantime,
> companies continue battling to hire
> workers with cutting- edge skills --
> while less-desirable workers struggle
> just to get interviewed. ``I've gone
> so far as to offer to work for free to
> get up to speed,'' said Peterson, the
> engineer working at Radio Shack.
> ``There hasn't even been interest in
> Gilliss, the manufacturing manager,
> observed, ``Everything you read in the
> news says the economy is great and
> unemployment is 3 percent.
> ``Well, it's 100 percent in my
> THE COMPUTER SCIENCE WORKFORCE
> -- Where do new computer scientists and programmers
> come from?
> Computer science graduates 67%
> Foreign workers 6%
> Other 27%
> Computer science graduates 37%
> Foreign workers 11%
> Other 52%
> Note: "Graduates" includes bachelor's and master's
> degrees and Ph.D.s in computer science. "Other"
> includes two-year college graduates; trade
> school graduates; people with degrees in subjects such
> as electrical
> engineering or math who go into the computer field; and people
> who are self-taught or who learn programming skills on the job.
> Sources: National Software Alliance; U.S. Bureau of Labor
> High-tech unemployment
> Systems analysts 1.1%
> Programmers 1.6%
> Natl. average
> (all occupations) 4.9%
> High-tech median income
> Systems analysts $918
> Programmers $840
> Natl. average
> (all occupations) $503