Career Central - 6

A Brief Compendium of the IT Workplace

Q2 tech wages hit highest point in 5 years

Second-quarter tech wages continue to outpace those for 2005, according to the latest Yoh Index of Technology Wages, released July 24 from Yoh Services, a Philadelphia-based provider of talent and outsourcing services.

In addition, the current second-quarter average is the highest since the index began tracking wages in 2001.

The index—which compares average wages over the previous year and is used by Fortune 500 companies to determine salary scales—found that, despite the typical slowdown in hiring and spending in the summer months, wages remained on an upswing.

"Its not unusual for wages in general to follow slow spring and summer hiring trends, but technology wages still held on strong and continue to surpass pay from 2005," said Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing for Yoh, in a statement.

"Top talent have every reason to stay confident about the job market—demand for high-level skills and deep-rooted industry experience is higher than ever but unbalanced with the shortage of talent to fill available positions," he said in the statement.

Wages for highly skilled technology workers increased by 1.7 percent in Q2 2006, up 1.68 cents from Q2 2005.

The growth rate of hourly pay in the second quarter dipped only slightly from previous quarters, down 87 cents from the fourth quarter of 2005 and 3.16 cents from the first quarter of 2006.

The job in the greatest nationwide demand in Q2 2006 was ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) design engineer, at an hourly pay rate of $89.16, followed by ERP (enterprise resource planning) technical consultant ($85.77), ERP functional consultant ($78.78) and database administrator ($69.36).

Project managers, who fell out of the top three for hourly wages, still showed a growth of 66 cents since Q1 2006.

Programmers Guild wants H-1B transparency

The Programmers Guild, an IT advocacy group, filed a request for the public release of data containing the names of the companies requesting H-1B temporary workers and the positions they are being hired for in a public letter to the Department of Labor July 18.

In the open letter to William Carlson, chief of the Division of Foreign Labor Certification, Programmers Guild President Kim Berry requested on behalf of the "displaced, unemployed, and underemployed U.S. tech workers" that the FY 2007 LCA (Labor Condition Application) database be made publicly viewable so that U.S. tech workers can apply for these positions while they are still open.

The next batch of H-1B workers whose temporary visas have been approved will arrive on October 1.

Berry reminded Carlson in the letter that "although LCAs are public records, U.S. workers do not have access to these records," and likened the records lack of public availability to "choosing to reserve 65,000 U.S. jobs exclusively for foreign workers."

Berry told eWeek that "there is no law that they have to be viewable on the [Foreign Labor Certifications] Web site, though they have been up through 2005 ... 2006 is not up there yet, and, more importantly, neither is 2007."

Berry argued that U.S. workers could be encouraged to apply for the jobs currently slated for guest workers if they knew they were available.

"Declining to release this public data now appears to violate the fundamental purpose of your division—to protect U.S. workers," Berry wrote.

The 2007 H-1B supply of 65,000 visas was exhausted June 1—four months before new ones will be made available. This gave rise to arguments by H-1B advocates that the current cap needs to be raised.

A provision to raise the cap to 115,000 is now before Congress.

—Compiled by Deborah Rothberg

Bridging the Geek Gap

Geeks (IT guys) and suits (business guys) just cant seem to get along. This notorious fracture often can be blamed for missed deadlines, dissatisfied customers, wasted resources and misdirected energy. Here are some suggested tactics to keep the suits and geeks away from each others throats:

1. Job swaps: In which techies and businesspeople try to do the others job for a day to see what its really about.

2. Shuffled desks: Rather than shoving the tech guys in a dark room at the end of the hall and cultivating a divide, reorganize desk layouts to ensure that both groups regularly encounter one another.

3. Blended teams: Rather than have a business meeting and then throw the work to the techies, any project team should be composed of cross-functional work teams representing different area specialists so nobody misses out on good advice.

Source: "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Dont Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," by Bill Pfleging and Minda Zetlin