You are absolutely right that young engineers can add value. No question about it.
However, the article aptly points to trends that work against the new generation of developers. Outsourcing is listed last but it should have been listed first. A lot of decent developers lost their jobs due to the credit crunch and corporate greed - the CEOs could have save all of those developers if they had forgone their fat bonuses for year or sacrificed a slice of the profit margins. It did not happen.
Now these developers tell their kids and friend not to go for computer science and related fields. IT has a bad reputation because of all the people that got burnt and that is precisely where the article hits the nail on the head.
Older developers offer several advantages:
1. They can pick up new technologies faster because they are familiar with the older ones. For example, if you worked with Struts 1, it would be much easier to pick up Struts 2. If you know Servlets and JSP, it is a lot easier to pick up JSF, Tiles, and Tapestry. So, as a more experienced developer, you are faster on the uptake and the employer does not need to pay extra for training.
2. There is plenty of legacy code in any enterprise system. Legacy could be code dating 2, 5, or 10 years back. Older folks are more likely to maintain that code quickly and efficiently.
3. Managers are crazy with deadlines, and older developers are politically smart about delivering based on such deadlines.
4. Older developers are better at estimating work. A non-technical manager thinks in dollars, not in lines of code, packages, or modules. These managers want someone to rely on. It is a lot more comforting to have someone with 10 years of experience behind his back who knows about estimating techniques than to have a rookie who just knows how to code.
All that said, my position is that companies need young developers and must grow them into top notch IT professionals. Otherwise American IT business will lose its edge to China and India. And believe me, there are lots of young hungry developers in those countries.
The best IT companies in the US are aware of the situation but instead of cultivating local talent they decided to build their offices in Bangalore and Beijing. Wrong move gentlemen! These countries will eventually muscle you out because they will start their own IT companies that will compete head to head with you - a vivid example is Infosys in India. Of course, the current CEOs will be long gone by then with all the kudos and bonuses based on "excellent" financial performance. Long-term strategy is really the pitch in corporate meetings.
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