Microsoft admits .Net skills shortage

Microsoft admits .Net skills shortage

Summary: With government agencies struggling to find people with .Net expertise, Microsoft’s answer is to retrain Java and Visual Basic developers


Microsoft has suggested that companies who can't find programmers skilled in .Net should consider retraining their Java experts.

Mark Quirk, Microsoft UK's head of technology for development and platforms, admitted on Monday that there aren't enough developers in the market who can help companies migrate to .Net.

As ZDNet UK reported last week, the UK's Highway's Agency embarked on a move to .Net, only to discover that finding .Net-skilled staff was a real challenge. Quirk acknowledged that this illustrates a wider problem.

"Clearly there aren't [enough .Net developers]. If the Highway's Agency can't find them, then there need to be some more," Quirk said.

Quirk claimed that Microsoft is working with a number of training companies to address the problem.

"We recognise that this is becoming very popular, even faster than even we would have dreamed. So we've spent a lot of time, particularly during the beta programme for the 2005 products and .Net version two, working with training companies," said Quirk.

But companies may still have to look at their own resources and see which staff can be converted into .Net experts.

"It's a modern platform, and if people have looked at the other modern platforms in the marketplace then they can move over and migrate to the .Net platform relatively straightforwardly," suggested Quirk. "Look at your existing skills base that you have —it may be those Visual Basic 6 developers...The 2005 products provide a much better opportunity to take the things that people were used to with Visual Basic, the RAD environment, and there's many more of those things in the Visual Basic.Net environment in 2005."

But some industry experts believe that the cost and complexity of learning .Net is a key reason behind the skills gap.

Julian Divett, chief operating officer at IT training consultancy FDM, said that learning .Net was not as simple as attending a five day course or reading a book but re-learning from scratch an entirely new way of doing things. This complexity combined with a lack of job opportunities is preventing IT staff developing .Net skills.

"It's a Catch-22 situation, to learn .Net you need to work on a project rather than attend training, but to work on a project you need experience in .Net, so it's a vicious cycle," he said.

Getting work on a project when you are inexperienced is virtually impossible according to Divett and this has led to a lack of opportunities for graduates to learn .Net skills.

Another.Net developer suggested that .Net simply can't compete with the popularity of Java.

"There is a general feeling that open source and Java are anti-commercial and altruistic compared to .Net," he said.

It's also possible that .Net is the victim of its own success.

".Net is something that's been moving forward quite steadily and moving closer to achieving critical mass," said Dale Vile, research director at analyst Free Form Dynamic

The adoption of .Net has been led by application vendors and systems integrators whose programs have now found their way into mainstream businesses, Vile said.

"Vendors have been working on product development, building solutions around .Net, but it wasn't until .Net started hitting the market that we began to see the outcome of all that work," Vile added.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • And I suppose Microsoft is going to pay for all these people to be re-trained or run very cheap or affordable Hands on .Net courses .... for say
  • I have been working on the .NET Framework since the beta product. I consider myself an an expert in the .NET Framework. I also recently passed MCSD.NET this year after 6 months hard work.

    I have recently been looking for a new job but I cannot get a job that pays anywhere near the salary I am on.
  • So now it takes _two_ anti-MS ZD shills to reinvent supply-demand economics in to a bad thing? Allow me to retort- if demand outstrips supply, supply grows to meet demand. This is a GOOD THING for MS, a GOOD THING for developers, and a GOOD THING for the UK.

    (Oh, and by the way- a quote attributed to 'another developer'? That was Onion-worthy. What did you do, a Google Groups search on to find that? Check Slashdot some time; you'll find that those in in favor of 'open' systems are _not_ in favor of Java).
  • .net is great but also a work in progress since 5 years

    How surprising people have more opportunities with Java and legacy tools like VB, Powerbuilder and C++ ?

    MS could release a VB 6.5 that makes the bridge with .net plumbing and all problems would be solved in a day.
  • I doubt there is really a "skills shortage".
    But it seems pointless to retrain Java programmers to .net, because .net offers no real advantages over Java. Dot net is just an attempt by Microsoft to lock more people in to their proprietary technology.
  • Idiotic advise that would only make sense if you happen to have a bunch of Java or VB programmers sitting around eating out of their noses the whole day.

    What they're really saying is that decision makers that are out of touch with reality that still don't want to face the music to please drop what they're doing and save their asses.

    Decision makers that are into their neck into .Net and faced with a skill shortage are well advised to re-evaluate their information sources, find their own answers and stop listening to bad advise.
    Most likely you'll want to opt to keep the current flows flowing smoothly and slowly take time to fill the skill shortage gap (it is better to have more then one skill afterall) in your own time frame and budget. Because it is better to take longer and come out well prepared then to dive in head first and duke out the learning curve problems with your paying customers. Because the latter would suck up most of your resources in non rewarding ways sooner or later and then you'll find yourself sinking down slowly but surely to be booted out once the well prepared guy comes along.
  • Use perl & soap instead......
    Everything is free and very easy to use....

    But the goverments don't seems to lack any money. So why not waste several millions on constultants and buggy Micorsoft software. That is how it always have been so it must stay that way....
  • U.S. developers will not use .NET. Microsoft abandoned 3 Million VB6 developers and 3 million ASP developers when they terminated those two platforms. And yes, those ASP developers were the only thing tht kept Microsoft in the game when the Internet threatened. So much for "loyalty".

    Microsoft can burn in Hell. Meanwhile I'll use free and open source - Apache web server, Perl language, PostGreSQL database. All are superior to the Microsoft alternatives and they will never be unsupported, thanks to their high usage and active communities.
  • ,NET 2 framework obsolesces 1.1! We had to throw our newly-written .NET codebase away!

    Just as Microsoft obsolesced VB6 and ASP, so Microsoft has "deprecated" .NET 1.1 and 1.0 code. The new ASP.NET 2 framework has different controls and is "declarative". So we're f**ked, must toss all the code we've written and now must learn the new .NET 2.0 framework.

    The only company to make money from .NET will be Microsoft.

    Joel Spolsky was right in saying that .NET was a way for Microsoft to slow it's competitors by forcing a recode of all applications to a new framework and new languages.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft still writes all their code in C++, not in the new .NET C# or VB.NET.
  • One of the factors is that management is just too short term obessed.

    IT workers can reskill themselves with .Net (via study)but that counts for little in employers eyes. They just want to poach already skilled people from other businesses.

    They not interested in investing in there own staff or hire people with the basics knowledge of .Net and train them up. Most of the jobs want 2 or more years experience along with a ever increasing list of skills.
    Pay levels generally in IT are not very good and actually went down a few years ago.

    A lot of the time you have to put in extra hours often unpaid. And get little thanks from users or management when projects are completed. Everything must be done yesterday is a common requirement.

    If you want to progress to .Net you can't unless you have experience (unless of course you present company moves to .Net).

    Employers in this country just arent interested in investing in there employees. Its mostly their own fault for resulting problems with respect to IT skills.