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Java Jobs in Decline? Not So Fast!

04.07.2008
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If you read Tom H's recent posting on Java Programmer Trends, then you may have the feeling that all is not well in the Java jobs marketplace. From a peak in late 2006 to the present there has been a sharp drop in openings for Java software developers. If you're thinking about leaving your current situation for greener pastures, a graph like this might hold you back!

I investigated further, and at the very least the decline (if there really is a decline) is by no means limited to Java. As you can see from the graph below everything seems to be in decline. And even though Ruby is the exception, it doesn't look like anything Rubyists should get too excited about. These results only apply to the United States, unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a job trends search engine for European jobs. But from looking at the job listings from various recruitment websites, there doesn't appear to be such a large amount of development positions offered now as there was in the past few years.

One thing for sure from the graph is that it's not just Java in decline, .NET is on the way down too. There could be many reasons for the trends:

  • Growth in the software development sector is matching the current state of the economy
  • Companies are using recruitment sites less and are hiring using job listings in newspapers and from their own sites
  • Newer languages are on the rise

I'm interested to hear your opinions on this. If jobs in Java are in decline, where should we be looking to to maintain our employability? Do you have experiences that indicate that this isn't the case, and that things are actually looking up for Java developers?

 

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Comments

Rick Ross replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 9:16am

Well, my first question is whether these pictures tell us more about trends at SimplyHired.com than about the industry as a whole? Couldn't we also conclude, for example, that SimplyHired is having less success in attracting job listing for major technologies than for other job categories? Maybe the people who tried SimplyHired simply didn't get good results?

It's the same as it ever was. Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics!

Tom Hickerson replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 9:59am

Interesting to point out that SimplyHired doesn't really state if that's the US job market only, or worldwide. I get the impression it's US-only and doesn't take into accout the already offshored Java jobs in places like India or Russia. Also interesting to note that PHP jobs occupy the same curve as Ruby, in the <1% realm, while Oracle rides the same trend as Java or J2EE:

See the graph here.

John Denver replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 10:08am

I'm not sure about US but outside US, Java is going stronger more than before. Ruby hmm, I have been there nice language it was good hype but I think is done, there are other scripting languages also interesting as Groovy or Python but there is not one language that can replace Java and the Java job market for the moment, maybe in 10 years? or in 20 years it will come the next best thing? nobody knows, maybe Java will be the 100 years language as Paul Graham said in one of his essays.

I'm agree with Mr.Rick Ross it's always the same as before Lies, just Lies. 

 

Guillaume Bilodeau replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 10:16am

Aside from Ruby, these results all look strangely correlated.

James Sugrue replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 11:03am

Ya - I wonder what that bump is about just before Dec 07.  In fact, I thought that was the quiet time for employment. I took a look on Indeed.com, and .NET seems more popular there.

I really want to see what's going on in the European market. And I'm hoping we aren't hitting a Java jobs recession

Andrew McVeigh replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 11:12am in response to: James Sugrue

 I really want to see what's going on in the European market. And I'm hoping we aren't hitting a Java jobs recession

I think it's development in general, in particular sectors.  It could potentially the large enterprises that are hardest hit by the current financial woes, and they tend to be the ones employing more Java programmers. 

In my part-time work (I study also) at a large-ish London investment bank, I can honestly say that the financial outlook is fairly grim.  The financial investment markets (banks servicing these are the largest developer employers in London) have been very hard hit.  E.g. UBS, JPMorgan etc.  Even though the company I work for has done very well compared to its peers, it is still "tighten the belts" time.  Other banks are making redundancies, and shedding contractors, so I'm counting my blessings.

It's all swings and roundabouts.  Assuming the subprime debt crisis is sorted out in a couple of years time, we should see a pickup starting from 18 mths from now, I'm guessing.  Until then, it may get worse, but surely it can't get worse than the dot.com crash.  That was truly grim...

Andrew 

 

Schalk Neethling replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 12:46pm

Maybe the 2008 IT salary and skills report released today will provide some more insight.

Tech Republic 2008 IT Salary and Skills report 

Roland Carlsson replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 12:51pm

Tiobe has run this kind of suvey since before christ (or somehing similar in internet-time)

http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html

 

 

Andy Gibson replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 1:22pm

www.itjobswatch.co.uk might be a good source for UK jobs.

It shows a current decline of Java over .net, not sure about longer term declines (and since I'm at work, I'm not going to look right now either ;-)

I'm more concerned about the lack of Seam & JSF jobs. Having come from a career in Delphi, I've spent most of my time using superior technology for which there was no jobs market. I don't wish to make the same mistake as I move over to Java.

However, the intent of the linked original post was really quite misleading as I'm sure they knew as they were careful enough not to come out with a deceptive statement and hoped that the charts with downard lines for Java and upward lines for Ruby would carry their deception for them.

Regardless, I still see .net adoption picking up, and the jobs numbers following. Consider the chart included above. Java had twice as many jobs as .net 18 months ago and now the lead has narrowed to 50%.

 

From itjobswatch.co.uk, .net has a slight edge over Java.

Tom Pridham replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 8:27pm

Greetings,

Here in the Tampa market, some contracting shops are finding it hard to locate qualified Java Enterprise Developers.  All of my J2EE peers are fully employed (praise God!).  Since taking my new position, I receive at least one "contractor calling - are u working?" hit by phone or e-mail each business day.

If I had to guess why this trend is happening, I believe companies are looking for some quick automation and data harvesting to increase / create revenue streams.  I am a senior Java Enterprise Developer who also is a business junkie, so I get myself involved in the business of employers that I code for.  That is a key piece of talent if you really wish to keep your career moving in a positive direction.  Most "heads-down-don't-bother-me-don't-care-how-the company-operates" programmers don't have much more of an existence in the coming roles of well paid Technologists.

 Just my 2 cents.

Kind Regards,

Tom Pridham

http://thomas1of12.blogspot.com 

Statistics replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 10:57pm

Oh. My. Word.

I am in a state of shock. Not because of the graph, but because so many people can be so ignorant of statistics.

Allow me to illustrate this for you:

This graph can show might represent:

A) A steady increase in Java jobs on simply hired

B) A steady decrease in Java jobs on simply hired

C) A fluctuation of Java jobs on simply hired

D) A continuously flat number of Java jobs on simply hired

Which is it? Tick tock tick tock!

Who guessed E) ALL OF THE ABOVE?

The above graph can represent data that models ALL OF THE ABOVE CONDITIONS.

That is because you are only seeing a percentage, which would vary based on the number of seasonal jobs posted to simplyHired, the weather, if more truckers are needed to move harvests, or indeed as new job categories are added to simplyHired (and those get filled up at the usual accellerated adoption curve).

If someone posts 100 jobs for barkeepers in holiday resorts, this doesn't mean the job market for Java developers is falling.

The very fact that ALL are combined, to me, shows that an entirely unrelated factor - the overall number of jobs, and limited population of jobs on simplyHired is causing the fluctuations in the number of jobs.

It is likely the number of jobs for the categories shown are staying almost exactly the same (or growing steadily, but similarly), and the total population of jobs on simply hired is varying. I'd say that each trough is more likely an even whereby simplyHired has taken on jobs from a third party niche job site, to improve their listings for things like 'Truck Drivers'. This activity of having people pull in data and clean it might account for large changes in many job fields.

I cannot believe you guys are wasting the ink on the internet! Stop writing before someone has to change the cables or something.

I am speechless. This is something a 10 year old can grasp. Wow. Shocking. M-M-M-MATH-BREAKER.

Statistics replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 10:58pm

Just to make it clear, I blame the idiot Ruby guy for this fiasco.

Chris Clark replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 12:46am in response to: Tom Hickerson

Valid point, Tom - offshoring is certainly a point that has to be taken into consideration, especially when key IT  outsourcing companies are reassigning Java developers as Designers/Architects, and requesting Java development resources in India / Egypt.

Tom Hickerson replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 1:49am

I posted a follow-up on this on my blog: http://www.jroller.com/wj/entry/more_on_the_java_job.

In general, the whole set of diagrams was inspired by a post from Paul Kedrosky here: http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2008/03/26/checking_employ.html.  On further review, the trends aggregator only claims to represent the US job market, so jobs even in the EU are not presented here.

Walter Bogaardt replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 10:26am

I don't know, I think there needs to be more data, because from my standpoint it's hard to find java developers as they are getting snatched up left and right. We interview a candidate and they run off with other offers by the end of a day or two.

Tom Pridham replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 11:04am in response to: Walter Bogaardt

Walter,

Where are you located? The description of sparse (or no) valid Java Enterprise Developers is very much alive in the Tampa metropolitan area (which also includes St. Petersburg & Clearwater FL). It appears that the Orlando area (think Walt Disney World) is in a Java Developer drought

For clarity, when I mention either Java Enterprise or Java Developers, I mean that type of skilled labor with a bare minimum of experience!

As a side note, as strange as it seems, the entire Walt Disney World set of theme parks in Orlando Florida USA are very recession proof. I always was told that healthcare was the recession proof field of choice....just chalk it up to the strange land of Florida. We can't vote correctly, we called in "The Lone Gunman" (think X-Files) to snuff out Al Gore's dream of winning the Presidency....we have the Southern Command of the "Rush Limbaugh" show (east coast of FL)...and the list goes on!

 

Regards,

Tom

http://thomas1of12.blogspot.com

Peter Karussell replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 4:59pm

Good point 'Statistics'.

We in physics say noise to it. But I think the signal-to-noise-ratio is sufficient for Java and .net. But not for the others, which have to small absolute values.

Nevertheless, I think it makes no sense to me to discuss those (theoretical) things. The only important thing is that every one gets a good job, right?

Or do you really think that a decrease in job postings is a cause of a possible going south of Java? I don't think that Java will go south in the next years, but other languages gets more important.

 

Regards,

Peter.

phil swenson replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 8:21pm

"nobody knows, maybe Java will be the 100 years language as Paul Graham said in one of his essays."

Haha.... If you've read Hackers and Painters and follow his essays, you would know that Paul Graham thinks Java is an abomination.

PG thinks Lisp or a Lisp like language is the way to go. Or failing that Ruby, Python or another dynamic language.

I don't think that the 100 year language he talks about is around yet....

Anthony McClay replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 9:03pm in response to: Tom Pridham

 

I too am in the Tampa metropolitan area. And the trends that I am finding is that there are alot of jobs, and few java developers are being let go, but the salaries are not moving. The pressure from outsourcing is greater and greater.

 

One drawback of outsourcing, is that most companies work out deals with the outsourcing companies to offer the outsource consultants jobs. So I see alot of jobs going straight to H1-B Visa sponseres, through the outsoucring company.

 

I have heard this from 3 of my other peers, that their comany is hiring, but only from thier outsourcing source.

 

This alows them to lower the starting salary significantly for new employees, so much that Native developers would not be interested in the position.

 

Such as a Sun Certified projrammer, with EJB, Spirng 3 years experience for 50-60K and H1-B sponsorship. Alot of oursourced oversees employee would jump at the chance, since this is significantly more than what thier companies are paying them.

 

A very very sad game. But I don't blame the developers, it's the companies we work for.

You really have to be much more than a strong developer in today's job market.

 

Tony McClay , Enterprise Architect/SOA Architect/Developer
------------------------------------------------
Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP)
Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD)
Sun Certified Business Component Developer (SCBCD)
Sun Certified Enterprise Architect (SCEA) (1 of 3)

 

 

Tom Pridham replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 9:21pm in response to: Anthony McClay

Anthony,

It has been my experience in the Tampa area (and I'm sure this is happening all over the country), the H1-B developers (with their 6 years of college) are being paid about 20 to 30k less than an American that may not have the college degree, but has 6 years of solid experience.

In the current environment, experience is worth it's weight in gold. Employers want their expensive developers up and running as soon as humanly possible.

Regards,

Tom

http://thomas1of12.blogspot.com

Statistics replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 10:02pm in response to: Peter Karussell

[quote=peathal]

Good point 'Statistics'.

...

Or do you really think that a decrease in job postings is a cause of a possible going south of Java? I don't think that Java will go south in the next years, but other languages gets more important.

[/quote]

Hi Peter,

I am glad you think I made a good point, however you seem to have missed it.

The graph actually shows a net increase of 10,435 Java jobs. So this graph shows more Java jobs, not less.

So I am puzzled by your question regarding a 'decrease in job postings' as I do not see any supporting figures for that, please clarify.

Here is a revised graph, as this is obviously harder than 9 dimensional long division:

its maths, stupid

Alex(JAlexoid) ... replied on Tue, 2008/04/08 - 11:20pm

Who cares...

Does anyone here plan their future?
And life sometimes throws a RuntimeException* to us all.
So noone has a catch clause with a backout profession to handle these exceptions?
C'mon... Developer is one of the most volatile profession ever! One day your're here the other you're out.

 

*- though my favourite is CoderMalfunctionError

John Denver replied on Wed, 2008/04/09 - 7:27am in response to: phil swenson

Phil you didn't get what I mean. Lisp who use Lisp?, Java 6 million of developers, in 10 or 20 years Java will still be the language of choice for IT, Enterprise development and Applications, so on. Maybe yes Python or Ruby is the next but it takes time. You have to move 6 million of Java developers plus another maybe 2 million of .Net and another bunch of C/C++ to a new paradigm and language in just a few years? I don't think so. Maybe it takes 100 years to move all the developers to the Lisp like language of the future, that is why I said maybe Java will be with us for 100 years as Paul Graham said that the 100 years language it will not change much almost it will be the same thing as we use now. For the record yes I know what Paul Graham said in his essays That he doesn't like Java, I read them all the time and I learned Scheme at University and I use Java everyday and is my language of choice and use little bit Python.

 

PS. The application that PG did for Yahoo they rebuild it  in C++ and now I think is based on PHP so I think Lisp is only used in the academia at this times, same as Scheme beautiful languages but nobody use anymore. 

Walter Bogaardt replied on Wed, 2008/04/09 - 4:42pm in response to: Tom Pridham

Located in LA on the other side of the united states. Its been a slow process, we've lowered the requirements bar in terms of knowledge in frameworks and focused on potential learning capability through problem solving to find candidates.

Tom Pridham replied on Wed, 2008/04/09 - 6:42pm in response to: Alex(JAlexoid) Panzin

JAlexoid,

It is VERY true that being a technology worker is extremely volatile. Just a few months ago, I was happily working through a contracting company on a 10 year, 10 billion dollar VA project to modernize the Veterans Administration's key software programs.

As a U.S. Army & Desert Storm veteran myself, I figured that since we are at war and trying to care for a large number of new type of injuries, that this VA software project was safe. One day, the project manager at the VA needed to scapegoat some folks because of (choose anyone of the myriad of Project Manager failures), so he canned all of the technology help coming through 3rd party sources for this project (which dealt with Spinal Cord injuries, a very serious injury that needs the best of everything, including technology). One day I have a great and meaningful job, the next day I am FedEx'ing my laptop from Tampa to the SAIC field office in San Diego. Unbelievable!

I love working in Technology, so the advice I give to young IT workers is save about 3 months worth of bill money in your savings account. If you are a true & dedicated technology worker, you will find another job, it just takes a while.

Kind Regards & God Bless,

Tom Pridham

http://thomas1of12.blogspot.com

Jeroen Wenting replied on Fri, 2008/04/11 - 12:35am

yes, it's hard to find qualified people. But that doesn't tell you anything about the growth or stagnation of the job market, or even its decline.

The "top 10%" of people (which is what everyone claims to hire and look for, I wonder how that's possible) all have stable jobs and won't leave them easily, so they're hard to find.
At the bottom of the pile people are giving up, moving into other professions where they can still find a job.
At the same time because of the bad prospects there have been for years (and which once again are looming after a year or 2, maybe 3, of growth) the influx of new people is low.
As a result the pool of qualified people (of any skill level) is shrinking, or at least growing at a smaller pace than available jobs. That tells you nothing about the growth of that job market itself, it could be shrinking by 10% a year (AFAIK it isn't) but as long as the availability of people to take on those declining numbers of jobs is dropping even faster you'd still have a lack of people to take on available jobs.

And I think that's what we're going to see later this year, next year at the latest. A shrinking market but a labour pool that's shrinking even faster, leading to a lack of people despite a declining volume of work.

Anthony McClay replied on Fri, 2008/04/11 - 5:16am in response to: Jeroen Wenting

 

Jeroen

 I think you are right.

<blockquote>The "top 10%" of people (which is what everyone claims to hire and look for, I wonder how that's possible) all have stable jobs and won't leave them easily, so they're hard to find.
At the bottom of the pile people are giving up, moving into other professions where they can still find a job. </blockquote>

The overall pool is shrinking.  For the reasons you gave or for a number of other possible reasons.

 My Chief Technology Officer or VP at where I am currently working, in a question and answer session, told us employees that he suggests that we discourage our children from getting into technology based jobs, like computer development, because the globalization of this market, will continue to drive the salaries down to the point, that it's not worth the pain and heartache for young Americans to get into Computer Systems.  The work, complexity, and dedication effort to the  payoff is just not there, as we known to be good at this job takes an enormous amount of effort that must be given throughout your entire career.

I both hate him and respect him for saying it.  Head of IT (VP) He's a bit bold by his own admissions, blatantly told us IT works that we have it good and be happy.  because he could replace each one of us, with 3-4 resources from his outsourcing source, and asks can I do the work of 4 people?  Well, no one can really answer that question, because the people factor into that equation, and it changes over time, but his point was made.

So through job rifts, or the reduction of staff through some greatly named new business process, such as "Work Force Optimization" = grab the people that are not top performers, or the people who can easily be replaced by outsourced staff, and anyone else that can be talked into retirement or moving from one technology (or Language) to another or lured by a severance package, or host of other factors <b>to the pool of Unemployed Development Staff.</b>

Most HR Staff can Identify them and avoid them.

My only advise, is to try to stay a part of that top 10% or close to it as much as possible.  Gartner suggests this as well.

Certifications, self study, anything you can to become truly great at the work you do.  This sound obvious, be it takes discipline, dedication, and can be expensive(books, training, computers).  But remember this.  Companies have an interests in you doing what they want you to do, not what is marketable to other positions.  You must always have your eyes on what the market is doing, and stay on top of that curve. Also remember, <b>Don't let your job, drive your career</b>  As much dedication as you have to your company, you are only new company owners, a new manager, a new market downturn in your industry, or a host of hundreds of other factors from being on the job market again.  Always be prepared for it.

 

I am an African America, and I am use to the idea of doing way above my peers to be noticed or promoted. The IT community is very poorly represented by African Americans which in my opinion is still second class, such as with woman in the America workforce as well.  The notation of being a IT superstar is natural with me, and something I continually strive for in my career, because even if this unequal inferiority complex of the IT Community is real or not, competition is tough in the IT business world, and getting tougher.

I have only to look at my IT Director’s development staff which exists of about 60 white Americans, 85+ Indian based developers (Consultants and Full Time Employees), 2 Hispanic Developers, and 1 African America (Me).  And the “Good Ol’e Boys network” is stronger now, because they are the minority to the offshore developers, so the community is very tough and changing. 

 I am fearful of the technology field as a carrer choice for all Americans.

 

 Tony McClay , Enterprise Architect/SOA Architect/Developer
------------------------------------------------
Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP)
Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD)
Sun Certified Business Component Developer (SCBCD)
Sun Certified Enterprise Architect (SCEA) (1 of 3)

 

Ahmer Ali replied on Thu, 2008/08/21 - 10:47pm in response to: Anthony McClay

hello big guy,

lucky me to find you here in Florida.

 So how is life. I hear JOB market is very tough these days.

tell me about your family.

Aqil and Tanveer are also saying Hi.

Ahmer

Pls use me direct mail ahmer68@gmail.com

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