First, and foremost, with so many Americans out of work, we should not be importing labor. PERIOD. As a computer programmer, I continually tell the story how I was interviewed over early Skype for a C programming job in Switzerland on Lake Geneva. I aced the test The guy said nobody does that. But hey, I love C. I can handle pointers because guess what… I learned Assembly Language earlier, and there is nothing BUT pointers to the processor. If you cannot understand pointers, if you need the language to hold your hand and maintain ‘variables,’ you’re not the same level of programmer. So the guy says to me, “Some programmers think it’s funny what our company does. We make astrology software.” I said, “I’m an astrologer.”
The guy asks me when can I start.
I told him I need to get a ticket to Europe and get a work Visa.
“Oh,” he said, with a shift in his vocal tone. “You’re an American. We thought you were English. You see, we have rules here that say we have to hire people within the EU first.”
And that was it. The perfect job, unavailable to me, because they are required to hire THEIR OWN PEOPLE FIRST.
Why the Hell can’t we do that?
Second, the managers often are not programmers. They don’t know SQUAT about what really goes on in the computer. Oh sure, they know what software packages are used, but they don’t really know how they work, or what technologies and languages are really in play. Hell, I had one employer … a lawyer … who actually asked me if I could type faster to meet arbitrary deadline. I had to try to explain to her that the typing I do, that she sees, is only the tip of the iceberg.
With regard to technologies, another story.
I was working at a major healthcare provider in Hawaii on a Y2K contract, and they needed to hire another programmer. My boss came to me with two resumes that had all the skills except a major component called HLLAPI that we used to communicate to the mainframe. Neither resume-holder had experience with HLLAPI.
“Do either of them have any experience with IBM 3270 mainframe language? That’s what HLLAPI uses to talk to the mainframe,” I told him. The guy with mainframe language worked out perfectly, but you see, the manager wanted to find someone with HLLAPI… a much narrower skill set. By selecting a candidate with the skills and not the experience with a particular PRODUCT, we were able to continue on mission.
But so many managers want people with experience in what SOFTWARE PACKAGES they use… because they do not understand. They think no one is skilled, when many are.
A third issue is that, because they lack the expertise to discern qualifications, they often work with staffing firms to get the people they need. Since many staffing firms are in India, and since India has a cultural phenomenon alien to the United States called a caste system, the people in these Indian companies look down on people from lowers castes… such as Americans who weren’t BORN into a certain family. So they do not even consider us.
Another issue comes down to the universities. A degree says you passed this course, but do you really have the skills? What if you did poorly on weeks 21-23 because you were sick, but managed to pass the course, but the skills in those weeks are those which are necessary to the employer? the employer, lacking the skills to discern absolute qualifications, uses the degree as an indicator of knowledge, when it is not granular enough.
Another problem is universities that rely on professors who base their course dependent upon a certain text book. What if the book is wrong? Hell, I wrote a book, and I’m working on another. “Encounter with Destiny” is about a Starfleet captain who gets wrongly censored for protecting his crew instead of abiding by all the Starfleet rules, and ends up being adopted by a Klingon commander and eventually rises to preeminence in a Klingon fleet.
Hell, it’s a BOOK.
My point is, the university degree is not a good indicator of skill, but to a manager without technical skills, it is a crutch to supplant personal knowledge that does not exist in the mind of the manager.