Trade secrets are also not advancing the public good nor time-limited nor necessarily novel and therefore do not get the legal monopoly that a patent does, so all the enforcement goes into destroying the personal life of the contracted employee in court as an example to others. This coupled with there being, usually, little clear boundary around what is and is not protected, it gives employers a very long arm to harass anyone who happens to have been a good and creative employee but had the audacity to leave.
Personally, I am not allowed to implement what I suspect to be the better solution for certain tasks because they are trade secrets I invented* for my employer from twenty years ago. If the company had patented it then it would be expired by now, and/or my future-now-past employers might have licensed it in the meantime.
My reaction has been to decline to participate in the patent harvesting games, and to tell the same to everyone I mentor. I am not one to violate an NDA from one employer to another but please don't expect to constrain my ability to use a skill somewhere in the future.
*As far as I knew they were novel then, not that the patent attorneys did their due diligence before telling me they were going to be protected as trade secrets for the rest of eternity and I best keep my trap shut. Meanwhile open source has almost caught up which I guess means I may be released eventually... Not that I want to pony up to prove it in court if someone wants to force the issue.
- Anon because I do not live in California or another place with employee rights, and I still work in a vaguely related field.