Saturday, 19 July 2008

Seeking employment

To add to the frustrations, I have been approaching employment agencies to find work in the computing industry in New Zealand. Almost a standard response is that I have been out of industry too long and my knowledge of the tool sets is inadequate. I acknowledge that I am lacking in some of the technical details but doesn't the knowledge of the underlying principles and concepts count for anything?

With over 17 years of industry experience from 1975 to 1990 and now 17 years of academic experience teaching students to program and develop systems, you might think that I have something to offer industry but it may appear not.

This isn't a new experience for me. I switched to teaching when I was told by agencies that my mainframe knowledge wouldn't be applicable to programming micro-computers (PCs). You are only good to be employed for the technologies that you know and not for the concepts and principles that you understand and can apply. Having become the guru on AS/400 systems over a three month period when supposedly I was simply a mainframe Cobol hack doesn't seem to count. Now, it seems that for some agents even that extensive Cobol experience is too dated to be able to put me in a position that urgently requires Cobol experience.

All I can say is that the computer industry needs to wake up if it wants to address the shortfall in staff. You can't reject people for the wrong type of experience when you are not recruiting people at the lower end. Yes, the pipeline into Information Systems and Computer Science programmes has shrunk. Students simply haven't been enrolling and now these departments have downsized or are downsizing. New graduates are simply not entering the pipeline. Now, I find at the other end, people may be being discarded from the industry simply because their technical skill sets don't match. That sounds like a recipe for a shrinking workforce.

All I can say is “wake up folks and look at the potential that you are discarding. If you don't wake up then you want have the support that you need for those systems that you want to see put in place.”

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