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United States Businesses Government IT

Obama Administration Claims There Are 545,000 IT Job Openings 348

dcblogs writes The White House has established a $100 million program that endorses fast-track, boot camp IT training efforts and other four-year degree alternatives. But this plan is drawing criticism because of the underlying message it sends in the H-1B battle. The federal program, called TechHire, will get its money from H-1B visa fees, and the major users of this visa are IT services firms that outsource jobs. Another source of controversy will be the White House's assertion that there are 545,000 unfilled IT jobs. It has not explained how it arrived at this number, but the estimate will likely be used as a talking point by lawmakers seeking to raise the H-1B cap.
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Obama Administration Claims There Are 545,000 IT Job Openings

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  • if that were true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:17PM (#49219771) Homepage
    people in the tech sector would not be looking for jobs for months at a time. Id love to see the breakdown on where they came up with this number.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:20PM (#49219803)

      people in the tech sector would not be looking for jobs for months at a time. Id love to see the breakdown on where they came up with this number.

      The White House would not lie.

    • by poet ( 8021 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:21PM (#49219811) Homepage

      My experience is the people looking for tech jobs now either:

      A. Want more money than they are worth (no offense)
      B. Are skilled in an area that is saturated (Windows admins)
      C. Expect the world to be like the Google Campus (Hipsters)
      D. Frankly, aren't worth hiring.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:29PM (#49219897)

        My experience is that the companies hiring tech workers now either:

        A. Want to pay less than people are worth (and therefore want to hire easily exploited foreign workers)
        B. Want specific experience with technology that hasn't existed long enough to create it
        C. Want to provide crappy working environments with clueless management
        D. Frankly, won't be in business very long because they can't adapt.

        • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:36PM (#49219967) Homepage

          B. Want specific experience with technology that hasn't existed long enough to create it


          I cant tell you how many job postings I read that said things like you need 5 years experience with X,Y, and Z.... only problem is Y and Z have only been out for 2 years and 4 years respectively.

          • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @11:32PM (#49222063) Journal

            I cant tell you how many job postings I read that said things like you need 5 years experience with X,Y, and Z.... only problem is Y and Z have only been out for 2 years and 4 years respectively.

            Some of that is cluelessness in HR departments. (I recall a time where the jobs adds were filled with posts for entry level sysadmins, which demanded enough years of Unix experience that only Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, M. D. McIlroy, and J. F. Ossanna MIGHT qualify. B-) )

            But some of it is part of the "hire a cheap H1B" game. By making the requirements impossible (or rejecting all but a handfull of people who already receive astronomical fees on the consulting market), they can claim that "There are no available US citizens quaified for the post." Then they hire an H1B.

            Of course the H1B doesn't have the qualifications, either. But his resume is inflated (typically by his recruiting firm, without his knowledge or approval).

            The employer knows the game, and isn't expecting the claimed skills to be present - just enough skill to do the actual job. But a citizen who similarly inflated his resume would be in serious trouble as a result.

            The boss gets his cheap laborer, the H1B gets his job and visa, the recruiter gets his fee. Everybody is happy except the rejected US candidates.

            So who checks for fraud? The boss is happy. The rejected candidates are in no position to investigate or initiate a claim. The government is not interested. (The boss' company is a big political contributor.) Nobody else has standing.

        • by cob666 ( 656740 )
          B is so true. Right around .NET version 3 I saw a contract job posting looking for 10+ years experience with .NET. The platform had only existed for about half that amount of time.
        • I don't have IT experience, but you said "tech workers", so I'm going to chime in.

          In my experience, our open positions are filled in three ways:
          1. We have an internship/co-op program and hire kids who work out well while on co-op.
          2. Poach from other tech firms when they lay off or close down.
          3. Advertise the position, sift resumes, interview, and hire.

          Most - actually, almost all - of our hires come from #1 or #2. The chances of finding a decent person with method #3 is very, very low. You have a lot of peop

          • I've gotten all of my jobs as #3, but one company in particular I worked for did primarily #1, and when they had to lay off a few hundred folks, most were supplying #2 pretty quickly.

            The key detail is that interview. It seems everybody has that one interview horror story or six, because that's usually the first time a candidate has to actually show that what the employer read on their resume is actually what they provide. Note that I refer to what was read, rather than what was written. You might think your

      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
        this. Just because there are hundreds of thousands of people looking for tech jobs, doesn't mean there can't also be hundreds of thousands of tech jobs. Unless we're just going to pretend tech jobs don't have particular unique skill sets...
      • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:36PM (#49219971)

        My experience is the people hiring for tech jobs now either:

        A. Offer shit pay for crazy hours and expectations.
        B. Expect to pay unlivable wages under the guise of 'saturation' and then bitch they need more h1-bs.
        C. Expect conformance with hipster ideals/opinions/politics. Hipsters are a pain to manage, but even worse to work for.
        D. Frankly, aren't worth working for. This includes things like those manufactured corporate cultures (open offices, chaotic group work sessions designed by people who aren't engineers, buzzword infested behavioral expectations), esp the ones that push particular brands of politics as components.

        • by poet ( 8021 )

          Sounds like Startup mentality and I agree with you. I would never work for a startup.

      • There is absolutely never an excuse for saying someone wants more than they are worth, you are always wrong, 100% of the time. From janitor, to the CEO with the $500k/yr package and unspecified parachute, if you are in a position where you need to work for a salary, you are almost assuredly selling your skills for far below what you should be making.

        The sooner we all just accept this fait accompli, the better our collective lives will be. This also includes standing behind the guy who makes way more than yo

    • I'd like to see a salary floor for H1-B at 15 times minimum wage (or 10 times the poverty level, whichever is higher)... + a 20% administrative fee.

      That would probably curtail abuses of said system... it couldn't be abused for the purpose of bringing in cheaper labor then.

      • Re:if that were true (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @07:09PM (#49220247) Homepage

        I'd like to see a salary floor for H1-B at 15 times minimum wage (or 10 times the poverty level, whichever is higher)... + a 20% administrative fee.

        That would probably curtail abuses of said system... it couldn't be abused for the purpose of bringing in cheaper labor then.

        I think requiring them to pay prevailing wage to the worker plus put an equal amount into a fund for STEM scholarships would work decent as well.
        Even if they fudge the numbers (which they do) and say it's only a 40k position, requiring them to pay an additional 100% premium to a scholarship
        fund should minimize the abuse that we're currently seeing.

        This could also work for other industries like truck drivers where the complaint is there are not enough drivers when the reality is that there are
        plenty of people who would be willing to drive if the pay was higher.

        • Yes, like if I can't find a kid to mow my lawn for $10, because he want's $20, then fine. I'll just do it my self for $0, and he can be unemployed.

          • But would you then complain that there is no one available to mow your lawn? Or would you just say you had to do it yourself because the neighborhood kids are too expensive.
      • this is actually a great idea. if the government really cared about getting americans back to work, they would support this. it has the plus side of only bringing in the best and brightest from overseas. Im not sure 15X min wage is right, i would say 3X the highest paid employee at the company in the position
    • Not only that, wages would be shooting upwards at unsustainable rates. Not seeing that either.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:43PM (#49220053)

      Id love to see the breakdown on where they came up with this number.

      Being that Obama just pulled that number out of his ass . . . I don't think you would want to see it in any detail.

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Frankly, it may be indeed be true, it would not be making a difference. The problem is not finding jobs, there are plenty of jobs at home, abroad or in the Internet. The challenge is finding jobs well paid enough to justify my time and involvement.
    • Well I am hiring for 1 slot and also an intern... tough to find good help at even high prices so far.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Easy, calculate the number of position in the area where employers want to pay 50% of their current salaries and they know those existing employees will refuse the massive pay cut. So there are 545,000 positions available that pay 50% of salary of the positions currently filled. There are also a range of military and law enforcement positions, where they pay totally shit wages and conditions are absolutely crap and where they can send you to prison for the minor infractions and failed jock strap douche ba

    • If they just count the number of uniq jobs that come to my inbox I think it'd account for a large number of them.

    • That's a very strange assertion. It's kinda akin to "if there's half a million jobs out there, why are there people who don't have jobs". The answer is trivial - those people don't have the skills necessary to do those jobs. I can tell you for sure, hiring people who (for example) understand performance critical code, code that requires manual memory management, and code that requires you to think about how you're going to affect cache coherency when you do certain things, is incredibly hard. Add a coup

    • Id love to see the breakdown on where they came up with this number.

      It includes the 544,000 unfilled positions that require 30 years of Java programming experience.

  • That number (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:18PM (#49219785) Homepage

    That number is EASY to figure out. Just look at all the revolving door jobs the IT industry has created the past few years. The largest companies don't want to high full time anymore, so they just go through temp agencies (*COUGH*MICROSOFT*COUGH*). So, once the temp hits a certain date, they're terminated and replaced by another temp (and the original temp is invited back after a certain period of time). So, with this, we just look at the cycle of temps going in/out of the tech industry. These are the "openings", which are just being filled by the same cycle of people.

  • all paying $13.25/hour...
    • there's a local techshop near me (bay area). I have a membership there and its quite a cool hackerspace.

      they have openings. guess how much they are willing to pay to be a DC (stupid term, 'dream consultant')? its a staff position where you have some mechanical skills (laser cutters, drills, lathes, CNCs, you name it) and yet you can make more money deliverying pizzas or probably just sitting on unemployment ;(

      they are willing to pay less than $15/hour! for someone who has DIY and/or industrial machine s

      • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

        How much are people paying for memberships there? What's the rent like in the bay area? Hackerspaces aren't small. How often do they need to fix or replace equipment, what's the power bill like...

        Hackerspaces I've seen keep going out of business. Their users just don't pay enough to support higher wage workers. People want a life full of luxuries, but aren't willing to spend enough for those luxuries to keep the creators well paid.

        • membership is about $125/mo, fixed price (less if you buy a special, sometimes around holidays).

          housing in the bay area is $500k for a broken down POS. not kidding. rent is $2000 for a one bedroom apartment. $2500 for 2 br in many places. insane, huh?

          and techshop is probably the most equipped hackerspace in the country. its amazing what they have.

          but my point is still this: why are the wages at such a place so low? you can make more changing oil at a gas station!

          the bay area is filled with software we

          • It doesn't sound like the wages are too low, it sounds like the membership price is ridiculously low. How many memberships are needed just to cover the machines, rent, and leases, and power? Techshop SF has 17,000 square feet. With industrial space in SF going for $2/SF to start, you're talking 272 memberships just to cover the rent. And the list of equipment present - that's another $150,000 per month in leases (or another 1200 memberships). Leases and space alone are 1500 memberships.

            You're looking a

  • Just most are in other countries, or they are fake openings purposefully designed not to be filled to justify bringing in H1Bs.
    • Hey, those people coming in on H1Bs are just doing the work that American's aren't willing to do.
  • Dice plug (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:25PM (#49219849) Homepage Journal

    Well, FTFA, they suggest a more realistic number might be in the 60,000s. Anyone who has been in the job market knows that for every unfilled IT job position, there are at least 10 contracting and headhunter firms like Dice vying to fill that job req for their "special client". So it's perfectly reasonable that we could see 10x as many job postings as actual positions available.

    And even then, they say that with the inflated numbers, 17% of the IT workforce is unfulfilled. Which actually sounds about right since roughly about a fifth of all of my engineering teams in recent memory have been open job reqs to replace people who just left.

    Anyway, contracting and headhunter firms are a big cottage industry grown up around IT nowadays, we're gonna have to hire more developers to make sense of all of this IT hiring data. Like the banks making more money by loaning each other money, we could make the IT job market even bigger by trying to optimize the IT job market! You should use Dice to help you sort through it all!

    Dice! (am I doing it right?)

  • its 500,000 jobs that each last about 4 hrs, half a day of work. string enough together and you have a job.
  • by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:27PM (#49219867) Homepage

    2017 cannot come fast enough. The current administration in the white house does not even know what party it represents, what it stands for.

    This is lunacy. There are not 545,000 IT job openings in this country. Look at dice.com, indeed, monster, etc. TRY TO GET A JOB.

    I bet there are less than 100,000 real positions available.

    This is just a red herring to let them open up the H1-B faucet and drive wages down. This would have been unsurprising coming from the republicans, but from the obama administration? Just more incompetence. Disappointing, but not unexpected.

    • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:39PM (#49220009)

      2017 cannot come fast enough.

      You don't actually believe this will change anything, do you?

      • 2016 to 2017. Sure, it's not much, but it's an incremental change in an upwards direction.
      • no more HealthCare if you have a preexisting conditions. The ER will see you now.

      • 2017 cannot come fast enough.

        You don't actually believe this will change anything, do you?

        Why not? 2008/9 sure changed a lot.

        Oh wait, that's right; there was some fabulous advance in robotics right then. Or something. That's it.

    • There are not 545,000 IT job openings in this country.

      not that i am disagreeing with the skepticism here, but do you have hard data establishing this to not be true? because all the griping here about the number not being realistic means bupkus without actual, hard data.

      • by digsbo ( 1292334 )

        There are two camps out here apparently. In one camp, workers are paid and treated terribly if they're lucky enough to get a job. In the other camp, workers are getting decent offers and pay. If there's a split, as much as I can see it, the IT jobs such as network and system administration are legitimately not opening up and paying as well as they did. The software jobs are becoming more challenging, but mostly paying well.

        What I'm trying to figure out is whether there are significant numbers of happily em

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      2017 cannot come fast enough. The current administration...

      If you think the other party is anti-imported-labor, you will be in for a second surprise. Both parties do it because the Plutocrats pay them to, and not enough voters know or care about the issue to override the influence of legalized bribery.

      The available election choices kind of remind me of our family's ISP choices: Company A offers spotty connections and Company B keeps putting bogus "fees" on our bill, like insurance we never asked for. Compa

      • I wish we could vote on specific Federal issues, not just representatives.

        I'm not sure that would do anything. Obama has shown that a President can get away with simply ignoring the law.

  • Here's one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:30PM (#49219905) Homepage
    This was forwarded to me today by a colleague:

    Job Description:

    The selected candidate will design, implement and deploy custom applications on Hadoop (Using Map reduce and/or RDD). This person will also be responsible for designing, implementing and deploying ETL to load data into Hadoop/NoSQL.

    Required Skills/Experience:

    • 4+ Years of JAVA Development
    • Excellent understating of HADOOP ecosystem
    • Experience in scheduling workflows using Oozie
    • Has Knowledge On Relational Data models
    • Excellent Knowledge of Linux

    Preferred Skills/Experience:

    • Troubleshoot Production Issues With Hadoop/NoSQL
    • REST Web Services Experience
    • Linux Administration
    • Familiar with RDD (Resilient Distributed Datasets) like SPARK
    • Knowledge of Scala Programming Language
    • Knowledge of NoSQLs (Like HBase, MongoDB, CouchDB etc)

    Location: Nashville, TN

    Duration: 6 months Contract to Hire

    Rate: 30/hr on W2

    • Re:Here's one (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crywalt ( 2426042 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:50PM (#49220099) Homepage
      This is basically what I see all the time. The listings all want experts in some stupidly named tech less than ten years old. Hadoop, Mongo, Tomcat, Pullwilly, Crankyank, GULP, GRUNT, and, god, still PHP. Also HTML5, which hasn't even been settled yet. They want all of that plus knowledge of ninety acronyms which don't really mean anything (RESTful). And there's absolutely NO ROOM for anyone to come in and pick things up as they go along. Every interviewer wants someone who can hit the ground running. Twenty years of experience on the web and a CS degree count for nothing if you're not an expert backwards and forwards in obscure minutia of SQL syntax, all tested using an online quiz designed to break your brain. Not to mention that the last job offer I got was for less money (accounting for inflation) than I got two years out of college twenty years ago, and in Manhattan to boot. After commuting I'd probably have lost money.
      • My question is who is the hell is going to fill that billet from an overseas workforce? Excellent understanding of HADOOP with a 6 month contract to hire bullshit? I'd love to see that interview.
    • 6 months Contract to Hire ... Rate: 30/hr on W2

      That is what I see all the time as well, and I know they won't get filled.

      Market rate is set by both the buyer and the seller. Or in this case, the employer and the employee.

      How do I know they will struggle to get the good people?

      Because of employers like mine!

      We've got similar skill requirements and six month contracts that on the low end START at about $50/hr, with many going for $75/hr, $85/hr, or more. That's what we pay to get skilled people. Many apply, there are lots of people with documented suc

      • I recommend everyone, especially those with a job, come up with the number you'd leave you job for and respond to every request like this that is a close fit to you with that number.

        I did and it eventually worked out really well for me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      30/hr? Wow! That's fucking laughable, even if cost of living in Nashville was pennies!

    • by mbstone ( 457308 )

      You forgot the part about candidate-financed relocation.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:35PM (#49219963) Homepage

    All at $18.00 an hour or less

    He never said the openings were all at honest wages.

  • Where the heck? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @06:37PM (#49219993) Journal

    I thought, the 545K number should be easy to substantiate, but googling doesn't find much. Except, an article saying that there are "as much as" 545,000 unfilled IT jobs ... in the UK. Could Obama have been reading the wrong newspaper?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 )

      Could Obama have been reading the wrong newspaper?

      Obama says a lot of shit. The basic strategy is to say so much shit that some of it sticks. This works because the media is on his side.

  • Now, I'm an engineer, and sometimes you do have to pull a number out of your ass to make useful estimates in the absence of data. It happens.

    But damn, President Obama, we at least try to get the order of magnitude correct!

    A half-million IT jobs sitting wide open? I am not an IT professional, but I'd say if there was this much demand for IT, we would need to genuflect at the desk of our IT guy every day at work and thank him for showing up, drunk or otherwise.

    Our IT guy actually packs a bag lunch and dr

    • IT or STEM? I find that people in government are too dissociated from reality to know the difference. "Who are they? Oh yeah, those boffin people or whatever."

  • by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @07:22PM (#49220349)
    I don't see Obama claiming 545,000 open IT jobs anywhere but the CW article. Where did Computerworld come up with that? They attribute it to "the White House" and "the Obama administration", but don't name names.
  • Good hiring IT companies already include a years of experience equivalency to higher education. There is basically two traditional paths in IT work. First, you get the 4 year degree and have less experience in the field with specific technologies. Second, you dive straight into the industry doing grunt work while getting whatever certifications you can along the way and generally end up being more specialized. Your hiring policies can discriminate between the two because they are actually different, or they can dictate whatever period of industry experience/higher ed ratio you view as sufficient to do a job. Even once you have applicants, you still have to vet their credentials by checking certification, employment history, and degree course catalog. Not every degree is worth something. Universities that try to pawn off bachelor degrees as just a collection of certifications are very different than ones that provide a broad understanding of IT from top to bottom with the ability to learn on their own quickly to adapt to the rapid pace of technology changes.

    I have my BS in computer science and I've been able to fill the roles of system administrator in multiple OS, storage administrator, network administrator, telecom worker, QA manager, DevOps lead, and programmer. I couldn't do all that if somebody had just fed me the cisco certification path. There is a market for people who did that though.
  • I'm sure they could be bought for much less.

  • Quickest Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @07:44PM (#49220531) Journal

    Quick fix: send written* letters with solid facts to his staunchest critics in the other party. They have been very quick and eager to contradict him on other issues. Take advantage of such behavior and motivation.

    In particular, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) have shown skepticism about "techie shortages".

    * Paper tends to carry more weight (no pun intended) over email because it takes more effort to prepare, acting as a bit of a riff-raff filter, and thus screening staff pay more attention to it.

  • Shortage Of (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @07:59PM (#49220667) Homepage Journal
    It's a shortage of people with a decade of experience in C++, Java, Ruby, Python, Perl, Object Oriented COBOL, Linux, Windows, dot-net, oracle SQL and MS SQL who are also willing to accept $45,000 a year.
    • In other words, experienced IT professionals willing to accept post-dotcombust and post-H1B salaries.

  • by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @08:22PM (#49220859)
    All of our jobs are available to H1-B applicants who will work for 10% the going rate. Especially the jobs that are currently taken!
  • ... the irony of the Obama administration outsourcing the labor to fix the ACA website is all you need to know. At every level of government they're outsourcing their IT.

    So I don't really want to hear from the US government on the jobs. They're doing everything in their power to fuck over anyone in the country that doesn't have a staff of lobbyists.

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Monday March 09, 2015 @11:04PM (#49221913)

    The US has a population of almost 320 million. Between 1% and 2% of the US population has a doctoral degree. Let's use that as a proxy for people with a STEM degree of any kind. That suggests that there's somewhere on the order of 3 million people in the US with a tech degree. If all if them were looking for jobs, then only about 1 in 6 would be able to find one. That being said, I can't tell you how many currently-filled positions there are. This probably accounts for the rest.

    Let's keep in mind that most tech degrees aren't worth the paper they're written on. There are universities turning out uneducated graduates in droves. Even the good schools manage to graduate plenty of morons with passing grades. If this weren't the case, then companies like Google wouldn't feel motivated to put interviewees through these grueling, demoralizing, dehumanizing interviews. I don't like that approach to interviews, but it is an effective way of eliminating the huge numbers of college graduates who managed to pass without acquiring any skills. If the colleges had higher standards, this wouldn't be necessary.

    People who can't find jobs say there aren't enough openings. Companies with plenty of openings complain that there aren't enough (good) IT graduates. Both are true. There are inordinate numbers of IT graduates. There are also plenty of jobs (open and filled positions combined).

    We hear about a lack of IT jobs because the majority of IT graduates can't find jobs. When a majority complains about something, we hear about. What's left out of this is that the majority of IT graduates are also woefully unskilled at IT, although they either don't know or don't care. They spent more energy on cheating than studying, but they (or their parents) paid for their degree, and they feel entitled to get a job. Too bad they're completely unemployable.

    Back when I got my bachelors degree, there was a major employer in the area that hired a lot of local graduates. Mostly they would hire them with only a cursory interview. Every single hiree, regardless of skill, was paid $30k/year (this was the mid 90's) and put through an extensive training program. Think of it as 3-month interview or probationary period. If you couldn't hack the training program, you were let go. If you passed, your skill level still didn't matter, because every one was stuck at the bottom of a waterfall design process. All you would do all day, every day was go through a stack of papers, where each paper corresponded to one function or procedure, and you would code them one at a time. Completely mind-numbing. But this company was successful at meeting predictable deadlines by employing thousands of relatively mindless IT graduates. There are still lots of companies like this, and they have to be, because this is the quality of the typical IT graduate. Those companies that adapt to the lowest common denominator do well. People get hired, and they get plenty of employees.

    But we're in a super star culture. Companies want super star engineers, and engineers (however unskilled) want super star jobs. And that's where all the complaints (from both sides) are coming from.

We're living in a golden age. All you need is gold. -- D.W. Robertson.