back to article Over half of IT hires in Asia are duds

The IT and telecoms sector will lead the way when it comes to hiring expectations in Asia over the next three months, but over half of new recruits in China and Singapore are duds, according to new stats from Hudson. The recruitment consultancy’s latest report for the second quarter of 2012 takes an in depth look at China, Hong …

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Silver badge

What do they expect?

No roots.

We've been doing what passes for "modern IT" here in the SF Bay Area for half a century. Over there? Maybe a dozen or so years; a decade with any seriousness. The kids they are hiring think knowledge of Redmond or Cupertino's products is equivalent to having a working grasp of ones & zeros. So does the manglement doing the hiring.

Here's a hint: It don't work that way.

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fch

Re: What do they expect?

Hint: It does work that way - and did work quite exactly that way in the SF Bay area as little as ~13 years ago.

If you were around in the .com boom phase, you'd have seen people hired on the basis that they pretended to know the difference between a keyboard, computer and screen. The hiring manager wouldn't quite admit it to that exact wording, but neither would (s)he admit to their superiors noone could be found for the job. You'll learn ... and if/while things are booming, employers don't mind the time that takes.

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@fch (was: Re: What do they expect?)

I started my self-employed consulting gig in Silly Con Valley in 1988. Part of my job during the dot bomb was hiring & firing. The techs right out of school thought the world owed them a living. Management right out of school thought the techs owed them a living. It hasn't changed.

I'd hire a bloke/tte who started with vacuum tubes, wire-wrap & relays, worked through transistors, then primitive ICs through modern ICs over a wet-behind-the-ears newbie brought up on Windows or Apple. The former have troubleshooting skills that you just can't pay to gain. The later are, for the most part, utterly clueless as to how computers actually work.

Example: Flip the on/off switch into the "on" position. What's the first thing that happens? (On the rare occasion that I have to call tech support, I ask the flunky this very question. Invariably, I get passed to a second tier tech ... who also gets asked the same question. Try it ;-)

Yes, vacuum tubes and discrete transistors are obsolete when it comes to computers. But the knowledge gained from them is directly transferable to the modern world. Unfortunately, management has absolutely no clue where I'm coming from, and almost always go with the "cheep this quarter" option. Seems that youth & glitter are more important than age & experience.

Somewhere, Bill & Dave and the Toms are spinning ... and Jobs is laughing his ass off.

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fch
Thumb Up

Re: @fch (was: What do they expect?)

@jake: Full ack on what you say, particularly on the two sentences "go with the cheep this quarter" (nice wordplay, cheep - sheep & cheap ...) and "youth & glitter" bits. That's what I've been trying to point out - it _does_ work that way ... as you say. As said, in full agreement that this isn't good, but also in agreement that it's happening, ok ?

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Pint

Re: @fch (was: What do they expect?)

Re: wordplay ... I was trying to troll a grammer cop! Stop spoiling my fun! Furrfu!

This round's on me ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

@jake

I think that is a good point Jake, although possibly a bit blunt / harsh. Taking Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China as effectively the same is a bit of a stretch, but your generalisation seems to mostly hold true in my opinion from my 4 years out here. How satisfied employers are goes beyond just tech knowledge though (again just my opinion of course). The culture here is extremely structured and disciplined (in HK and China anyway). On the positive, I've never had a project run late here as everyone will get what they need done in time and within budget. On the negative, it doesn't matter if what is being built is 'wrong' - it will get done as originally requested. So there are arguably pros and cons, but the different cultural attitudes definitely has scope for dissatisfaction.

It would be interesting to see if the satisfaction survey was for local hires or ex-pats (or both). The expectations of what should be delivered often creates frustration and dissatisfaction for local managers. Local managers often expect long hours, consistency and respect. A lot of ex-pats focus ruthlessly on delivering what they perceive as value and rapidly adapting to change. Unless the communication is managed well, people regularly get annoyed on both sides because they think they are being inhibited from doing 'what is right'.

I don't think the cultural thing is new, but it is interesting to see how it plays out as things move much faster than in the past.

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Anonymous Coward

They shoudl follow the tried and tested route and outsourece to a small island country :0

They could outsource to the UK :) who inturn wil outsource elsewere :(.

One solution is when they get a pile of CV's, throw half into the bin and go thru the other half. That way you can avoid the unlucky ones at least and in that you may still recruit crud but they wont be unlucky crud :).

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Anonymous Coward

Blame recruitment agencies?

Recruiters mentality = commission and getting bums on seats

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Pint

Re: Blame recruitment agencies?

It says here on my resume keyword search that your reply did not mee the posting requirements!

Just imagine if the same tool was being used online in message forums. It would be automated squelching of information and that is effectively what the agencies have done.

You can not and will never find a great employee except those who know how to game the resume submission process.

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Happy

Not just over there....

...over here too!

I've been in this software engineering game for well over 20 years now, and over that time I have met very few people that I would actually consider "good". Up to a couple of years ago, I worked for about 7 years at a very well known consumer electronics company. The quality of some of the softies there was shockingly bad. Mind you, at the considerable risk of sounding racist or xenophobic, most of them were Japanese (but then it is a Japanese company).

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Anonymous Coward

"The quality ... was shockingly bad."

"I worked ... at a very well known consumer electronics company. The quality of some of the softies there was shockingly bad."

Based on my experience as a customer of various brands of consumer electronics, from routers to TVs and elsewhere, the quality of *most* of the softies in consumer electronics companies appears to be a bit mixed at best, and the quality of the resulting end products is, on the whole, best described as "dire". Or worse.

But it's OK, it's only software, and even when we pay for software as part of a piece of consumer electronics, we are told it comes with NO WARRANTY. And like sheep, we accept this and carry on paying for it, and the crap UI designers and the brainless PHB spreadsheet-jockeys carry on getting away with it.

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FAIL

Ah, you've noticed then? :-)

I'm afraid you are spot on with what you say, and the problems are endemic in almost all consumer electronics companies (where, of course the 'electronics' is increasingly almost exclusively 'software'). The basic issues are:

- Timescales. There is never enough time. Ever.

- Managers that have strange priorities and odd ideas about what is acceptable and what is not.

- Patents. The industry is so riddled with this stuff now that virtually all products are purposely sub-optimal to avoid some patent or other.

- Software kids that are (quite frankly) ...and I'll be polite here ...crap. They have no idea about embedded systems (I can only guess they were taught on a PC with Java, or maybe Python, and gigabytes of memory and trillions of ops/sec). They often have no idea about good software design practice (sorry, did I say 'design'? Oops!). They can't code even if they you pay them (oh, hang on, they ARE being paid!). They're just not up to it.

One other problem that I have seen time and time again is the culture surrounding production of software. This comes from the yanks, but unfortunately has been picked-up by pretty much everyone in the far east, which is why most of the consumer stuff these days is rubbish. That is, given a software project, they chop it up in teeny tiny bits, give each teeny tiny bit to one person, and then try and glue it all together at the end. And while said bod is working on his/her teeny tiny bit, he/she comes across a problem that can't be immediately solved, they decide to split the problem off into an even smaller teeny tiny bit in the (apparent) hope that someone else will fix it at some point in the future. This means that the difficult stuff gets left later and later so when it is eventually tackled, it's done in a rush and probably by someone who's either not very good or who's been working 18 hours/day for the last month (not a joke) to get the thing out of the door. Of course, when it comes to gluing all these teeny bits together, the glue is often bigger than the "working" (I use the term loosely) code, and the whole thing needs a processor upgrade to run at all!! I wish it was funny, but it's not.

These issues all combine and result in products that are far far from optimal. When, for example, did it become acceptable for my DVD player to take 2 minutes to boot up? My old DVD player started up almost instantly. The EPG on my TV often craps out and I have to switch it off. Why? (That's a rhetorical question by the way, I know exactly why).

As for you point re warranties, this was supposed to have been tackled years ago by re-defining software as "goods" rather than as a "service". For reasons unknown, this never happened. If is had, then the software would be subject to the sale of goods act (notably the bit about "fit for purpose"). Your TV and DVD player etc might be a whole lot more reliable if this happened.

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K
Bronze badge
Meh

Good oppotunities

This has been a problem for several years.

I've been given quite a few opportunities to relocate to the Shanghai area, the issue is they don't offer the remunerations expected by western workers. You never know, this may go the way of the oil industry, where they offer low to mid 6-figure salaries and bonuses to bring in foreign talent. If that happens, I'll be upping sticks :)

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Anonymous Coward

"Water wet, fire hot"

...announce Scientists. Our Helldesk went to India about five years ago. They have about thirty people doing a job which formerly took eight. They are f***ing useless. Staff turnover is enormous. But they're cheap, which enhances shareholder value.

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Re: "Water wet, fire hot"

No, they're not "cheap" if they're not doing the job as a department. If users are unproductive while waiting (longer) for fixes, that's a cost to be offset against the salary savings.

But try to get that through to management!

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Unhappy

consumer electronics is the *worst* of both worlds

*properly* done its military grade reliability at wholesale prices.

It's about as "embedded* as it gets. Telecomms devs use various methodical development processes to handle the problem but I'll guess it's a bit more hit and miss for set top boxes, sat navs and down to the proverbial microwave oven controller.

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Yag

Re: consumer electronics is the *worst* of both worlds

You seems to either

- under estimate the amount of work needed for milgrade products.

or

- over estimate the real grade of military projects.

Perhaps even both...

Military requirements are sometime less drastics as the civilian ones, especially for airborne system. They have an "acceptable loss percentage" which is strangely not applicable to huge airliners :)

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Anonymous Coward

Look ant many I/T departments in London and you will see about 50% or more 'bad hires' who are unable or unwilling to do their job well despite years of employment. The British way is just to lower our expectations.

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Facepalm

VERY TRUE

I knew some who are hired and on Day ONE they were tired of their co workers and were taking adderall or some other drus that take away your emotions to make you a walking zombie.

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A lot of CV's are 'made up'

I've been doing some recruitment recently for a relatively simple low-level role within my company, and quite honestly, I think that candidates are actually making up their CV's in some cases. If my experience is anything to go by, Recruitment Agencies are doing the following things:

1) Actually believing the content of candidate's CV, because they know that they won't be checked. Most recruiters don't know anything ABOUT the industry they are trying to recruit for [sad and true]

2) Not doing even the most basic of background checks.

Anybody can learn some text, and squirt it out at the other end; experience is harder won and fought for !

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Devil

Reason why they are failing in Asia is...

Of all the asians I knew and have met in USA that have had the following tech learning curve went though this process:

A. PUT TITLE OF TECH BOOK HERE - FOR DUMMIES.

B. Their entire cd rom collection for IT training is 100% pirated. Does not matter who or where it is from but its all copied and not legit at all.

The chinese are flying by the seat of their pants going for the short cut route to success.

While in America - Sorry we only hire people with Certs. Then they hire these chinese who appear to have lots of skills and only have CHINESE CERITIFICATION that maybe was also pirated. Certification software learning tools are pirated more so than microsoft software.

And you wonder why they are hired so cheaply. I must say we europeans and americans must also do the same as the chinese plus it will save us tons of money in the long run.

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Re: Reason why they are failing in Asia is...

I work extensively with Asian coders, I have done for years... If I ever come across one we hire who compares to a homegrown coder I'll buy them enough drinks to hospitalise them with severe alcohol poisoning!

It's not education, or experience, it's cultural! And without severe cultural shifts the coders are obstructive to the way we expect to work in the western world!

To put it in context I was 'provided' with an 'experienced' developer. The project was a disaster, I had to step in and rewrite almost the whole thing due to the timescales. A year later I was working on a different project, luckily it happened to be the same pm who asked an important question... "do you recognise the name of the 'experienced' senior developer we've been provided with as it sounds familiar?" yes was the same person, who had been promoted from dev to senior dev, despite having had all their work scrapped due to being unacceptably poor. I mean, we've come to expect poor quality from the 'cheap' offshore resources, but this was really, really, bad!! They had, however, stuck rigidly to the letter of what the were asked for, unfortunatley the real world doesn't generally fit with the ideal fantasy of how a project should progress.

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Happy

Re: Reason why they are failing in Asia is...

"Then they hire these chinese who appear to have lots of skills and only have CHINESE CERITIFICATION that maybe was also pirated. Certification software learning tools are pirated more so than microsoft software."

In the UK we have something similar, unfortunately. We call them "former polytechnics".

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FAIL

Meaningless Survey, Meaningless Conclusions...

Remember, 50% of people have a below-average understanding of statistics.

For HK, 37% of hires were considered average and 9% bad. Therefore 54% were good, but this is seen as an unsatisfactory result?

If, as seems reasonable, executives are comparing the latest employees with their past experience, then the current batch are better than their predecessors, and, in the next round of recruitment, executives should have revised their expectations upwards. Over the long term, exactly half of the employees should be above average, and exactly half below average.

On the other hand, the executives asked were just putting down the first thing that came into their minds, and the recruitment agency was analysing this according to their preconceptions. GIGO.

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