I don’t. (A year ago, I knew a few that were out of work. None today, in the UK at any rate.)
He replied to the same effect, then added that a recruiter friend of his had over a thousand openings for permanent-staff engineers that he simply couldn’t fill.
From a purely selfish standpoint, this is good news. I’m on the winning side of that equation. I’m as busy as a freelancer could wish to be, and I regularly have to disappoint recruiters calling in search of a solution to their particular problem.
It isn’t good news, of course. This is a big problem. The economies of the western world are struggling to grow, governments are (seemingly futilely) trying to balance their budgets, skilled and unskilled people are out of work.
And a select few firms are complaining bitterly that they can’t beg, borrow or steal enough engineers to do the work they’ve got on their books.
Which means their growth (and the economy’s growth) is stunted. Project schedules will slip, costs will over-run, and profits will be hit.
On a logistical and tactical level, I’m very sympathetic. It’s frustrating to be unable to progress work just because certain desks in the office stand empty.
On a strategic level, I’m less sympathetic. This problem has been looming for decades.
And it’s not like there are no solutions. Work can be packaged up and shipped overseas. Engineering freelancers can be hired instead of permanent staff, and they can be hired quite cheaply via websites like Elance and Odesk. You can hire engineers who don’t have the precise qualifications and experience, but have the right attitude and enthusiasm, and train them to suit.
But those solutions come crashing up against traditional management values. Values that say, I should be able to walk up to a counter somewhere, ring a bell, say “Engineers, please!” and walk away with a permanent engineer having exactly the experience and qualifications I need now.
Those days are long gone. The current crop of young (and old) knowledge workers have more options now, are more mobile, and have more diverse interests than ever before. They also distrust corporate pension systems, are not impressed with most corporate benefits, and have no intention of working in any job for much more than a year.
This is incomprehensible to old-school managers and recruiters.
It’s a clash of world views.
A clash that will continue until the view that runs out of options first accepts that the world has irrevocably changed. And that they must also change, or die.