What's wrong with hiring new ICT people, especially in SMEs

I wanted to write this as a rant, but I think it is a better idea to explain what is the source of my problem, trying to keep a constructive approach to the subject.

Finding new workers in the IT, in 2022, in Italy and in an SME is doomed.

Wait… What?

The problem

Companies are struggling to find good people in the ICT field, both juniors (real ones) and seniors. We are a GIS software house, and we are looking for software engineers. We actually know there is only a very remote chance to find someone who could start in a reasonable amount of time (tomorrow is not a feasible, real option) and who’s able to work in a complex ecosystem like the GIS' one. So usually we put people in a long-term learning process, which only relies on scholar knowledge as foundation.

"Great!", you may say. Well, it would be as you say if only people were good enough in the average.

Let’s take a look at the profile we were (are) looking for: “Bachelor degree in computer science or computer engineering. Knowledge of at least an OOP programming language. Basic technical English”.

We tried hiring specialized headhunters, using LinkedIn, using word of mouth and social network advertising.

The average quality of the curricula we collected is unsatisfactory. I would say only a 10% of the CVs is worth an interview.

The role of education

We are looking for computer scientists with no work experience. It should be easy to find candidates. I won’t say everybody is a fit for the open position, but at least the premises should be satisfied.

The reality is different. Average knowledge level is very poor.

In my own personal experience, the new generations of so-called technicians are lacking basic capabilities like reasoning, problem-solving and consequential logic. Exceptions exist, but on the average it is very hard to find brilliant developers or sysadmins.

I think (my 2 cents) education is the main actor here. Schools are not teaching logic anymore, and sciolism has replaced reasoning. Also, technical subjects are less valued in Italian school, in favor of a humanistic approach.

University has a deep an orientation issue. High school students are deceived from distorted statistics. There is no place for a lot of lawyers in this country, nor there is a place for that niche degree you liked a lot.

Orientation should be done using market demand. The market now, since 2000, wants engineers and scientists.

You should choose your future path using data, not opinions.

This should be taught at the elementary school.

The problem with startups and SMEs

Another problem is that is the world of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft, it is really hard to be attractive if you are a very small company.

We are a niche. We work with geospatial data, and we build great tools, empowering people and organizations to apply location intelligence.

At 3DGIS, we use the same tools of great big companies and the average knowledge level you must have to work with us is high. But we are not a FAANG-like company. So if you could work with us, you could work for them.

Bigger the company, bigger the appeal. There is no game here, so it is hard to be appealing.

The bright side is we offer a great work / life balance, which is not so common in FAANG-like companies.

Italy is not an ideal place for ICT professionals

How much can you afford to pay people in a country where the taxation is incredibly high and the ICT added-value is really very underestimated?

For every euro you make, you need to put at least two in taxes. I’m starting to have better consideration of who is supporting “Taxation is theft” movements in the world. Also, bureaucracy is so crazy, you are really in trouble reading your payroll (no jokes here).

Bureaucracy is so fucked up that even accountants can have difficulties explaining what is going on sometimes.

Let’s say your cost for the business is 100K. You would get less than a half of that in your pocket. If you are lucky enough not to incur into a marginal rate of 90% (it happened to me).

This is the first problem with Italy, which hits almost any good professional.

The second one is ICT related. You are not an opportunity for growth. You are a cost for the company. Entrepreneurs here are, in the average, very short term focused, and small companies cannot afford huge projects, which could bring their business from small local company to world-wide enterprise level. Small business are not efficient. But if you want to grow, you cannot count on anyone other than you.

So if you are asking why wages are so low. That’s why!

What to do?

I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a developer. I’m a technical evangelist (I like to teach people how technology changes the world).

I’m a not an economist. I’m not a politician. I don’t know how but, there are plenty of experts. I want a government which is able to listen to the experts.

We need to fix this country. But I don’t know if we are out of time…

But I care about my children future. I would love them to stay here in Italy to make this country grow. Currently, P is 0.05.