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Programming Stats Technology

Software Development Employment Rises 45% In 10 Years 118

Posted by timothy
from the this-means-less-if-you're-not-part-of-the-trent dept.
dcblogs writes "Software employment is rising at 4 to 5% a year, and may be the only tech occupation to have recovered to full employment since the recession. Other tech occupations aren't doing as well. In 2001, there were more than 200,000 people working in the semi-conductor industry. That number was less than 100,000 by 2010, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute. Darin Wedel, who was laid off from Texas Instruments, and gained national attention when his wife, Jennifer, challenged President Obama on H-1B use, said that for electrical engineers, 'unless you are in the actual design of circuits, then you're not in demand.' He said that much of the job loss in the field is due to the closing of fabrication facilities. Wedel has since found new work as a quality engineer."
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Software Development Employment Rises 45% In 10 Years

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  • by Racemaniac (1099281) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:29AM (#44360791)

    seriously, this is slashdot -_-
    if you take a growth of 4% per year, that already reaches over 48% over 10 years (you know, it's accumulative, this nice little exponential growth) -_-

  • by danbuter (2019760) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:31AM (#44360805)
    I'm betting average wages haven't risen that fast, especially over the last four years.
    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      No but H1-B visa employment in the U.S. has EXPLODED!

      • Why is the tensor, "for every H1B visa issued, one American must stand down from a job," still valid?
        • That's not what he said. Perhaps you should ask yourself why you can't resist throwing out a straw man.

          • I'm just looking at the observable facts, and asking a question. Why do you want to flood the U.S. with more engineers that its market can obsorb?
    • I was just about to ask that: What about the wages? It's worth jack for me as a programmer to know that more people are now filling slots. If it would at least mean less overtime and more sensible deadlines, ok, I could dig that even at same wage level, but not even that's the case. Where the hell are all those programmers?

      Or did we not get programmers but code monkeys who got a fast breeder course on "programming" (read: Writing code according to exact specifications that will work at least in ~70% of all

  • Darin Wedel, who was laid off from Texas Instruments, and gained national attention when his wife, Jennifer, challenged President Obama on H-1B use, said that for electrical engineers, 'unless you are in the actual design of circuits, then you're not in demand.'

  • What is OP's definition of "full employment"? Not sure it's the same as mine.

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:42AM (#44360927)

      An industry average of unemployed people as would be expected pre-recession.

      i.e. if under normal economic conditions the unemployment rate is 3%, then software development is at that level.

      If you're expecting it to mean 100% employment for all software developers then no that's not the case, because in every industry there'll be a few percent of incompetents who are just always unemployable no matter how desperate that industry gets.

      • Yeah, pre-'80s there was a Keynesian notion of full employment which meant a certain degree of central planning to ensure that people were trained up competently for roles they could fill. While 100% employment (within the labour pool) will never be a thing, as some people will always be moving between jobs, this goal seemed more laudable than what we have now.

      • by rundgong (1575963)

        If you're expecting it to mean 100% employment for all software developers then no that's not the case, because in every industry there'll be a few percent of incompetents who are just always unemployable no matter how desperate that industry gets.

        There will also be competent people working for companies that go bankrupt or the local office gets closed or are for other reasons looking for a new job.

        I read somewhere that 1.5-2% unemployment basically means "everyone" is working.
        As an example, 1% unemployment means on average people are unemployed approximately 1 month every 10 years

    • If I am not mistaken, "full employment" today means "at least 20 hours unpaid overtime per week".

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:34AM (#44360855)

    A lot of companies that used to maintain their own fabs have closed them over the years. Trying to keep up with the leaders in process technology is very expensive. It has been a long time since it was even as cheap as $1,000,000,000. Not many companies can afford to build one.

    Semi industry fab costs limit industry growth [eetimes.com]

    By 2020, current cost trends will lead to an average cost of between $15 billion and $20 billion for a leading-edge fab, according to the report. By 2016, the minimum capital expenditure budget needed to justify the building of a new fab will range from $8 billion to $10 billion for logic, $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion for DRAM and $6 billion to $7 billion for NAND flash, according to the report.

    It used to be that companies could leverage their own fabs for competitive advantage in process or design technology, or simple scheduling. Not any more. Now you outsource the fab to one of the big providers and get in line. More and more of the fabs are outside the US.

    Some of the smaller old fabs get retargeted to specialty products, but even that tends to die eventually.

    • Perhaps that's a problem to some extent. But saying that "semi industry fab costs limit industry growth" when someone else's factory can offer a better value for your buck today than your own offered you ten years ago seems quite hypocritical to me.
      • Going to someone else's off-shore fab may save money, but it still costs jobs. From time to time it also endangers product rollouts.

      • Well you are going to have less process engineers working if you have less fabs open. Plus the escalating costs of semiconduction manufacturing plants are a well known problem. See Rock's Law [wikipedia.org].

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      Most of Intel's new fabs and upcoming fabs are in the USA, but they aren't work for hire.
    • A lot of companies that used to maintain their own fabs have closed them over the years.

      That is part of the "problem". But I think a bigger part is the rise of SOCs and FPGAs, which have become far more powerful, while falling in price. Many applications that would have required an ASIC in the past, can now be done by configuring a SOC or programming an FPGA.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The irony is that the electrical engineering requires more talent and education than run of the mill software development jobs. But by the time these guys are laid off, they're usually age 40+ so they have a tough time getting a job in software even after retraining themselves.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I always thought it was about EE requiring a *different* mindset rather than "more talent". There are lots of "run of the mill" EE jobs too, which don't require the full gamut of skills learnt e.g. during your degree programme - just as most software jobs won't require most of what you learnt at school.

      My academic background is in mathematics. I found anything from the purest mathematics to the underlying physics relevant to EEs a lot easier that did the EEs I bumped into, yet I find circuit study entirely

      • by inasity_rules (1110095) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @10:24AM (#44361279) Journal

        To understand circuits "intuitively", you need to train yourself to visualize both the voltage, currents and frequencies at any point in the circuit simultaneously. When you can look at a diagram of a filter and "see" the waveform or frequency comming out, then it is intuitive. It sort of comes with experience. And you start to recognise patterns which simplifies things. It is a lot like learning to read, or program a computer, just more complex in that something further "down" the circuit can have an effect on something further "up".

        The trick with most oscilators is to realise that noise starts them. In a perfect world, they'd need a kick to get going. Most things are tried because, like with any engineering, when all the components are understood, all it takes is a bit of intelligence to combine them into useful modules.

        • For someone with a mathematical background, I'm surprisingly un-visual - I see everything in terms of *connections*. But it does not harm to try new techniques. Yes, it's quite a challenge to know when there will be relevant feedback to an earlier part of a circuit.

          So, for someone who is a complete butter-fingers, what would you recommend as simulation software sufficiently advanced that I can get to building and experimenting virtually at a faster rate than I have in the past with a board and/or iron? Ough

          • Formal analysis is always helpful, and worth doing to build your intuition. It is well worth spending some time on that. A deeper understanding of how and why components behave as they do, is very useful. Simple things people often seem to forget (for example, the Emitter -Base of a PNP transistor is essentially a diode) or don't realise make all the difference. Sure it seems obvious, but only if you understand what a transistor is, and how it is constructed. Like anything you learn, it is worth digging dee

            • Yes, I'm very much a first principles and "reduce it to something we've seen before" sort of person, but I too commonly get overwhelmed with increasing higher level complexity as I find it hard to know when to stop thinking at too low a level.

              Thank you very much for the tips.

          • These might be useful:
            https://www.circuitlab.com/ [circuitlab.com]
            http://www.falstad.com/circuit/ [falstad.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The irony is that the electrical engineering requires more talent and education than run of the mill software development jobs. But by the time these guys are laid off, they're usually age 40+ so they have a tough time getting a job in software even after retraining themselves.

      It won't be long though, the future is analog. Software and programming is a fad for children and halfwits. The return of the mighty analog circuit is nigh, hang tight brother, we have the op-amp on our side.

      • Software and programming is a fad for children and halfwits.

        More like a practical joke. As an EE I apologize for my intellectual ancestors having taken this thing too far, but originally it was just an innocent joke. I have been wondering though when the rest of the world will realize that.

  • I would venture to guess that without the smart phone market taking off the way it has, that we wouldn't see as good of recovery in the software development sector. Thank goodness something came along. Oh, and here's the full article on one page [computerworld.com].
    • Re:Handhelds (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Xest (935314) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:44AM (#44360949)

      It's not just that, as companies have been cutting staff they've also been looking for ways to do more with less staff and turns out that that's where computer automation comes in. The reality is there are some jobs out there whereby you can hire one developer and have him/her write software that will automate the job of 10 people or whatever. It's cheaper to hire a developer and automate, than to keep paying people to do an easily automated job.

      That's why software has been fairly recession proof. There have been redundancies of course, but for each redundancy there's been plenty of other companies looking to hire to automate.

      The mobile boom has helped as well of course as you say.

  • Tech bubble (Score:4, Interesting)

    by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:39AM (#44360907)
    I'm curious, what does the data look like for 12 or 15 or 20 years?
    • I'd like to see that data, too. People forget how young Software Engineering is compared to more established fields like, say, Chemistry.
  • by JavaLord (680960) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:43AM (#44360937) Journal
    Wedel has since found new work as a quality engineer

    He's checking the accuracy of the drive thru orders at McDonald's.
    • Well, they do indeed call it "assembling the order".

    • Not quite mcdonalds (though clever); from tfa:

      Wedel has found new work. He has been employed for about a year as a quality engineer for a large eye care/pharma company.
      Ask about outsourcing, Wedel said it has "affected just about anyone with a technical degree -- it's purely business getting its way with government. Lobbyists have bamboozled our politicians into thinking we have a shortage of qualified engineers and that we need to import more via the H-1B -- simply not true.

      • by T.E.D. (34228)
        A triffling difference. Its still part of the health-care-industrial complex. Its just that McDonalds is at the front end (making you sick), while pharma is at the back end (treating the symptoms so you can still go eat McDondalds).
    • by LordNimon (85072)

      The #1 reason why Wedel was unable to find a job was because he was unwilling to relocate (something about a child custody agreement). I'm sorry, but I don't really have sympathy for him. The tech industry collapsed in North Texas, and he should have moved. Apparently after his wife complained to Obama, he got lots of calls from companies around the country, but he turned them all down. I'm pretty sure he could have gotten full relocation benefits, as well.

      He probably could have moved to Austin, which i

  • Personally, after being in the developer/IT rat-race for 14 years now I'm recently experiencing a spike in 'bugging by recruiters' myself, just now when I'm ready to ponder a career change. I don't know what to make of it, most are lazy recruiters who want me to do their data entry job for them - nothing new here - but just these weeks I've had recruiters come back to me and actually report on the status of a given occupation (that's a rare one).

    This is all just anecdotal and probably has to do with me addi

    • by Shados (741919)

      Its not so much a spike as a steady (insane) increase month after month.

      Its been going on for a few years now, and it just keeps on getting more and more ridiculous, with employers offering crazier sign on bonuses, vacation packages, and better conditions every day to outbid each other.

      I for one, am not complaining. I just hope it lasts until I'm done paying my mortgage.

      • by AaronW (33736)

        I can attest to this. In Silicon Valley this has been happening for some time. My company has a number of open positions and it's hard to find qualified engineers. It's amazing how many screw up basic C programming questions or computer architecture questions. I have friends at other companies who are reporting the same thing... open positions that they can't fill. If you can do embedded programming and/or Linux kernel work there is a huge demand.

        • Full time or contract? What are the posted requirements? How much do they pay? Might be the boom hasn't hit Texas yet I guess.
          • by AaronW (33736)

            My employer generally only hires full-time at the standard going rates around Silicon Valley. We're looking for people with networking experience, embedded processor experience (especially multi-core 64-bit MIPS and ARM, though 64-bit ARM is new), multi-threaded/multi core experience (most of our CPUs are multi-core, our next major chip will support 4-way NUMA with 48 cores per chip). We're also looking for Linux kernel engineers and application optimization engineers. I don't know what salaries are being o

        • I can second this. Not only that, all the startups I've looked at recently are having trouble finding decent programmers.
  • by methano (519830) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @10:45AM (#44361495)
    I have a PhD in organic chemistry from a pretty good school and used to have a pretty good career. Most of the people like me, over 50, are out of work or grossly underemployed. And it's very bad for new grads, too. And not great for the rest. We're not so happy about that H-1B and STEM talk coming from everywhere either.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      Well, unlike the last 50 years, most chemicals and combinations are well-known now. And very few new ones are being discovered. Formulas are simpler to create because the raw materials are more complex and sold for a purpose.
      • Well, unlike the last 50 years, most chemicals and combinations are well-known now.

        And we've filled out the periodic table, so I guess chemistry is a done deal. Remember to cross it off the STEM list - we don't need no more stinkin' chemists.

        Formulas are simpler to create because the raw materials are more complex and sold for a purpose.

        In the past raw materials were sold without a purpose?

  • I take it that Dice Holdings has a quota, every week a story must appear to support the astroturf campaign wailing about "a shortage of STEM workers in the United States".. Check the box for this week! What will it be next week?
  • My employer has multiple open positions that we just can't fill. There aren't enough qualified engineers for the positions open. Friends of mine at other companies are reporting the same thing. This is true for both software and hardware engineers. I'm constantly being contacted by other companies and recruiters to the point where they sometimes call me at my work number (which they must be getting from some of the mailing lists I've posted to).

    • My employer has multiple open positions that we just can't fill. There aren't enough qualified engineers for the positions open. Friends of mine at other companies are reporting the same thing. This is true for both software and hardware engineers.

      Where?

  • This explains why my wages have kept up with the cost of living so nicely....

    Oh, wait.

  • What happened to /.?

    It seems like its become a subsidiary of the WSJ's oped page.

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