For those of you having difficulty filling positions and blaming it on a
shortage of qualified talent, I offer the attached editorial gleaned from a
recent edition of Information Week...  (and yes - I've contacted Patti - the
positions aren't competitive with the three-month contract I'm currently
into my fifth year on.  And people wonder why I'm not doing Ada...)

-- Karl --

   Date:         Thu, 9 Sep 1999 17:37:12 -0400
   From: Patti Brletic <[log in to unmask]>

        Team Ada Members:

        We are currently seeking Ada Developers to perform analysis and
        development of Ada systems for a large, ongoing FAA project.

        Contract length of 12+ months.  Competitive compensation.

        Seeking to fill multiple positions for both junior and senior level
        software engineers.

        Must have at least three years of Ada programming/software engineering
        experience.  Prior exposure to FAA technology is a plus.

        If interested, please contact Patty Brletic at 1-800-926-6797, X3741
        or by email at [log in to unmask]


Information Week, Aug 23, Tech View, p. 60.

CEOs Offer Sympathy for Soviets, by Jeff Angus

Whenever I read about an American executive complaining about the high-tech
employee shortage, it's a reminder of just how anti-free market most
executives are.

Not too long ago, a VP told me how impossible it was to hire the staff he
needed for a big 18-month project.  I asked him if he could get enough
qualified folks if he offered $5 million, excellent benefits, and an
18-month no-cut contract.  His first reaction was contained outrage; his
second was to do the accounting.  "We could easily find those people," he
said. "But the returns wouldn't be high enough."

That's the free-market crux of the staffing shortage - the willingness to
pay a dynamic market rate in a high-demand labor marketplace.  Seen from a
less politically correct point of view, this staff shortage is really a

Executives who pay lip service to free markets lose their enthusiasm when
they have to up the market-driven ante.  The complainers would do better in
the old Soviet system, in which central planners would have responded to the
need for enterprise resource planning systems by creating a five-year plan
and marching hordes of people to C++ drill camps in order to belch out
cookie-cutter contributors who would be universally available at a low

The reality is that sellers of skills have the same kinds of leverage buyers
do.  In an imbalance of supply and demand, the price changes.  In this
situation, either the willingness to pay a market-clearing rate (the amount
you'd have to pay to get talent) is lacking, or the project doesn't generate
sufficient return if you pay a market price for talent.

One solution is obvious: Pay the going rate for the talent you need.  I see
this happening more.  My neighbor was offered more than $500,000 to lead a
financial company's enterprise application integration effort.  At that
rate, the company will have its pick of qualified personnel.  If the project
doesn't generate enough return with that kinds of cost, it's the market's
way of telling to delay, downscale, or deep-six it.

The second solution is a bitter pill, especially among executives who've
made their mark in the "disposable employee" culture, and it won't even
solve the problems overnight.  The dominant business culture likes trained
and experienced employees but doesn't want to invest in making them.
Training requires extra expense and gives the hire help more salary impetus
and career mobility.  Better to follow a cuckoo strategy: Let competitors do
the spending and reap the benefits at the back end.

The bitter pill is insourcing - train people and do what it takes to retain
them long enough to recover costs.  And don't let the lure of the Soviet
model undermine your commitment to markets, even when you have to open your
wallet to get a high-return project going.