I found this brilliant blog post by Jose Aguinaga (here) and it got me thinking about the reasons behind the shortage of software developers in London – especially in front-end. I want to reflect on and summarise some of Jose’s ideas and add a few of my own.
I don’t have the frustrating experience of many recruiters – when I speak to most companies, they tend to struggle to find developers, which makes it a much easier conversation for me! Often, they are happy to talk about the difficult condition of the market, and how I can help. That’s a nice position to be in! But it leaves me with a problem to solve; I need to know where the front-end developers are…
It’s Not as Challenging?
Jose quotes a user who points out that, since front-end development is easier than other fields of engineering, the shortage seems odd. It’s a premise that I’ve come across in many conversations actually – particularly when speaking to back-end developers who believe their job is harder or, at least, more ‘serious’ engineering. I’ve also had clients comment they’d like ‘a back-end developer who has turned to the front-end – but that never happens’, as if front-end development is just a step one takes in the journey to becoming a ‘proper’ programmer. Perhaps this stigma (though diminishing quickly I would say) is still a reason why many developers don’t focus on the front-end, abandoning it completely to move into back-end or choosing to use it as part of their full-stack skill set.
I think the big problem is distinguishing between being a ‘front-end developer’ and a ‘front-end engineer’. Another of Jose’s arguments is that front-end engineering is a relatively new area, with the ‘engineering’ part being added only recently. No longer is the front-end just visual design (not to undermine that, either), but what is technically demanded of the front-end is getting so much steeper. What many people might believe a front-end developer does is vastly underestimating the role, if you’re looking at the responsibilities of a front-end engineer. Which skill set does a company need, what is it really looking for?
There is a Low Barrier to Entry?
Lack of Exposure