One of the listservs that I subscribe to circulated a message today titled, “Any recent grads with an interest in transportation planning and GIS [geographic information services]?” As many of you will recall, one of my central criticisms of tech employers’ claims of labor shortages is that they don’t reveal that they are unwilling to hire those over age 35. They mainly want the new or recent graduates, who are cheaper in both wages and benefits.
Thus the title of the above e-mail message caught my eye. But the body of the message is most interesting (bold-face emphasis mine):
XXXX County Transportation Commission…had a recent failed recruitment for a GIS staff member. The job description is attached.
I’ve been asked if I could beat the bushes for any recent graduates
(undergraduate or graduate level.) with a mixture of interest in land
use planning, transportation planning, and GIS skills.
If you’ve got any good candidates, please ask them to contact YYYY…
Did you catch that phrasing, “a failed recruitment”? Keep this in mind the next time a tech industry lobbyist or ally makes a statement like “Employers can’t find the workers we need.” Yes, they “beat the bushes,” but only ones that grow on university campuses.
The fact that the job in question was a government agency is irrelevant, as it’s the same in the private sector. Job requisitions are typically earmarked to given level of experience, the NCGs and RCGs (new and recent graduates) in Intel parlance.
Not to pick on Intel — they are typical — but they do form an exemplar for the problem. Former Intel CEO/Chairman Craig Barrett famously said, “The half life of an engineer, hardware or software, is only a few years,” and Tim Jackson’s book Inside Intel reported a practice in the firm of “bumping” (their term) out older workers. An Intel job posted in 2013 at http://www.linkedin.com/jobs?viewJob=&jobId=4750771&srchIndex=3 (taken down after I wrote about it), overtly restricted to new or recent college graduates, just like the GIS job shown above.
When it comes to finding engineers with advanced degrees, Intel’s proactive. It posts jobs on a number of websites, advertises through social networks, contacts universities and holds job fairs in the U.S. When it’s seeking to fill a position, it basically doesn’t care whether it’s a U.S. citizen or H-1B worker who fills it.
At college job fairs, however, the candidates with advanced degrees tend to be foreign students. In fact, most of the H-1B workers at Intel were hired through its college recruitment efforts. In some circumstances, the company isn’t able to find a suitable candidate on campus at all. In those cases, it resorts to other means.
The bold-face text makes the point — Intel is mainly seeking NCGs or RCGs, resorting to broader (but not much broader) venues only if there is a “failed recruitment” for NCGs/RCGs. The later reference to research conferences does the same. Just as in the GIS case, it is clear that Intel’s definition of “beating the bushes” mainly involves the young.
The industry’s excuse? “Older workers tend not to have the latest skill sets.” I’ve explained in great detail before why this is a red herring, and in any case, even the industry concedes that many older workers do have the skill sets of interest to them. If they really were beating the bushes, they’d try harder to find such workers. In my experience, such workers are already in their databases, just dismissed for not being NCGs/RCGs.