Sometimes experience doesn’t help

by Andrea Maioli on 09/11/2013

Bad news for programmers, or at least those in Silicon Valley. According to this article, age and professional experience are actually a curse. In fact, in 2012, the three leading high-tech companies in Silicon Valley laid off 48,000 employees, even though in the same period, offers for tech jobs grew: a real generational turnover!

What’s behind this turnover? Mark Zuckerberg himself has the answer: people under 30 are more efficient, they work more, and they’re paid less. They have simpler lives, without families and maybe even no car, so they can concentrate on what really counts (for whom? [Ed.]). So, being older than 30 and being a programmer means becoming unemployed.

Obviously this is a galling issue, and it’s happening in Italy as well, albeit to a lesser extreme. Just look how many comments there are on the article – over 400!

There is certainly obsolescence in IT technical skills: after doing their jobs all day programmers can’t then spend their nights studying the new technologies. And accumulated experience can’t always be reused.

As a CEO, I want to examine this issue from the point of view of what’s good for the company. Is it really true that exploiting and then discarding is the most reasonable solution? Especially when we’re talking about building software products?

Our experience is different. Since the beginning we’ve focused heavily on transferring and sharing knowledge at all levels. Once established, this way of working has made it possible not only to keep up to date on the entire technical structure with a relatively small investment, but it has allowed every technician who works with us to become increasingly effective year after year.

It’s similar to what happened in craftsmen’s workshops years ago, in which masters had apprentices who slowly improved, sometimes surpassing the masters themselves.

Of course, you have to look at your employees as people, rather than as production machines, but it’s more pleasant this way too.

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