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Recruiting crisis fuels Java wages

It's a seller's market out there: Recruiters say they are having a hard time finding skilled staff, and as a result salaries are going through the roof.A shortage of Java developers could hamper uptake of the technology, as companies struggle to find skilled staff, recruitment experts have warned.
Written by Rachel Fielding, Contributor
It's a seller's market out there: Recruiters say they are having a hard time finding skilled staff, and as a result salaries are going through the roof.

A shortage of Java developers could hamper uptake of the technology, as companies struggle to find skilled staff, recruitment experts have warned.

Java is now classified by most analysts as a mature technology, but employment experts say that recruiting highly skilled Java developers, particularly those with knowledge of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and Enterprise Java Beans, is still very difficult.

The use of J2EE in enterprise application development is increasing rapidly, and the average salaries for Java-savvy enterprise architects commonly reach £70,000 to £100,000.

Bruce Jackson, founder and chief technology officer of mobile data software specialist Elata, was involved in defining wireless Java standards for GPRS and 3G mobile handsets. He said recruitment problems in London were delaying projects. "It's particularly critical in the City of London where there are big projects that have been re-architected using Java," he noted.

Jackson added that recent efforts by Sun Microsystems and its partners to promote Java had further aggravated the situation. He said that it is easy to find people with Java experience, but not experience in J2EE. "The really useful parts of the technology are so new that training courses tend to be about 12 to 18 months behind the reality of what you can do," he said.

Mark Ashton, head of technical services at Web software company SilverStream, agreed with this view. "Many CVs have J2EE listed but when you look at the CVs in detail or in interview you find the candidate has read about the technology but not actually used it in anger."

The situation means that companies need to be increasingly innovative in attracting and retaining qualified Java developers. Dave Pye, managing director of the resourcing division of services firm Parity, said companies fighting for Java developers must improve the way they sell themselves to candidates.

"Candidates are doing to organisations what organisations do to their suppliers they're evaluating the companies they want to work for, and they want to know how it will move them on over the next couple of years and what it will add to their CV," Pye said. "Candidates tend to operate on a project by project basis. Talk to them about what they want to do with their career in the short term and what they can be offered once the initial project is finished.

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