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Old 13.09.2012, 13:16
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Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

Hi all,

Today I was talking to a colleague and he was saying that there's been quite a difference from some years ago to now in the job market for software developers. He said that some years ago there was a huge demand for us, developers, and that now there's not such a high demand anymore... and, sure, wages are going down as well.

The thing is that it's not the first time I've heard this.

I'm not look for a job or anything, I'm happy at my current company... but it's always good to know how the market is going.

What do you guys think? Is there being a shortage of jobs for software developers? Or is this just the regular trend of all jobs, that all sort of jobs are now declining because of the current economic conditions?
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Old 13.09.2012, 14:28
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

I've read posts from in this forum from several years ago that claim how easy it was to get a job in IT, with those great juicy high salaries. Interesting enough all that was written before Switzerland started being part of the Schengen treaty that eased an host of qualified people from other EU countries to come over and search for a job. I'm not blaming them, this is an open market and if there's an increase in the supply of developers I see a reason for a change in the demand.

If you see the number of job ads and given the ample range of IT related fields I would not say that the job market is exhausted, but it has certainly changed with more skills required for lower compensation.
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Old 13.09.2012, 21:04
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

I see. As I live in the Zurich area, I guess that some years ago the big banks here were greatly influencing the job market for software developers... but I guess that from 3-4 years ago they're not really hiring all that much anymore.

What my colleague also told me is that, for a software development job, you were fine with just English some years ago, but now they require German for 90% of all the offers.

Oh well, I guess I'll have to pay more attention to my German from now on. Thanks for your comments mojado!
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Old 13.09.2012, 21:24
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

I can easily imagine that the demand is not so high now than before, but as far as I see (based on a snippet of experience here Switzerland) the good software developers is still needed. So you are right frogdr, the German is important, but I think the continues self-training in our area is also important.
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Old 14.09.2012, 20:53
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

Yeap, you're absolutely right skzs, that's one of the main reasons why I'm developing a personal project in my free time, to keep myself updated with the latest technologies, and to have something nice to show in my CV.

As a matter of fact, I'm also considering getting a project management certification, i think that for software developers that's always something nice to have.

Your learning doesn't stop once you're out of university, specially in our profession. Life-long learning is always something everybody should pay attention to... but even more us software developers.
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Old 14.09.2012, 20:58
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

One of the key factors is the outsourcing of this skill set and transferring of software development to India and eastern europe.
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Old 14.09.2012, 21:03
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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One of the key factors is the outsourcing of this skill set and transferring of software development to India and eastern europe.
But there must always somebody onsite who understand the whole picture, who knows what's going offsite, and so on.
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Old 14.09.2012, 21:04
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

good software developers are still in high demand because so many people are exceptionally bad at it.
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Old 14.09.2012, 21:32
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

You guys think so? That the trend started many years ago of outsourcing sw. development to other countries is still going?

What I've heard is the opposite, that 10-15 years ago this trend started... but now it's being reversed. Companies now prefer to do the development on-site, projects usually turn out to be more in line with the expectations.

Take Siemens as an example. From what I've heard from a guy who works there, they're bringing many projects that had outsourced back to Germany.
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Old 14.09.2012, 21:39
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

Some large companies split the development; key developers on-site and the rest offshore (e.g. India). However, it can be the same company that provides all the staff; getting business visas for some of its staff to travel to the client's site for a short period. And even arranging long-term visas, where possible, for longer stays.

So, just because some development is done on-site doesn't mean the company is hiring its own staff to do the job.

To stay ahead of the outsourcing you really need to have a customer facing skill. So mix development with some business transformation skills, or domain (such as procure to pay, or order to cash) skills. A bog standard developer could still get work, but it's more tricky.
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Old 15.09.2012, 00:34
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

Still the same as before. High demand for good people locally and often positions can't be filled due to lack of skills. Low level goes off shore but good developers or infra people have no need to worry.
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Old 15.09.2012, 01:06
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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Companies now prefer to do the development on-site, projects usually turn out to be more in line with the expectations.
The trend today is rather near-shoring (Poland e.t.c.).

Couple of month ago I was looking at possible near or off-shore development. Off shoring in India fell away almost immediately because it is very hard to communicate with them and evaluate their skills. They all knew how to do anything you asked about.

In former USSR countries responses where more realistic, I had a lot of interviews with companies and individuals, the result is - anyone who thinks that finding a good software developer in Eastern Europe is easy and cheap is mistaken.

Take Russia for example: gone are the times when you could hire a top notch experts at 2k / Month, you want really good person with solid experience? Get ready to search for a while and expect to pay 4-6k / Month. Then there are costs of office space: more or less decent office space in larger Russian cities costs at least as much as here in Switzerland and in Moscow it get's quite crazy with about $700 / m2 / year.

You may try Minsk in Belarus but the workforce there is also being aggressively hunted by Russian companies, and they offer 2-4k / month, place to stay and live in Russia, no overtimes, good holidays, social compensations.

Add the overhead of remote development, travel costs, risk of technology theft, further rise in wages e.t.c. and local development begins to sound not so terrible after all.

Last edited by kuku-gaga; 15.09.2012 at 01:20.
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Old 15.09.2012, 09:41
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

Somewhat off-topic: don't forget about Romania as a near-shoring opportunity. Very good developers can be had there for less than what you mentioned about Russia and office space is usually cheap (we pay for a pretty big villa with garden and pool <2000e per month...that's for the whole villa).

As for Switzerland, I personally am currently feeling the pain of not finding qualified people to fill some positions. If jobs were declining I'd expect tons of good candidates to come knocking, which doesn't seem to be the case unfortunately.
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Old 15.09.2012, 10:26
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

I see. So probably the thing is that the difference in costs of outsourcing vs employing own developers is not so dramatic as maybe 15 years ago. Makes sense, if wages here have declined a bit, and other regions are now asking for higher compensations.

One of my colleagues told me that he was contracting in 2008 for 190k / year, and now he's employed for around 100k. Wow That's a huge difference. Yeah I know, if you're a contractor you get paid gross and you have to pay many taxes, social security and all these things... but still! 190k / year!!!

I would say that generally, middle management get paid around 150 - 200k CHF / year... so that means that a simple contractor in IT was getting around the same money as a guy who was leading 10 more people. And almost right out of university!

I should've come study university here :-S
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Old 15.09.2012, 11:36
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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I would say that generally, middle management get paid around 150 - 200k CHF / year... so that means that a simple contractor in IT was getting around the same money as a guy who was leading 10 more people. And almost right out of university!
It was, and probably still is, the same in the UK. I was earning more as a freelancer than the managers of the teams I was working with. But they got holiday and sick pay, and some job security.
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Old 15.09.2012, 12:09
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

I think the job security of a permie is all relative, even compared to the one of a freelancer. I don't know about the UK but when they decided to go for a round of redundancies at work(here in Switzerland), those who were asked to go were the permies while most of the externals stayed.
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Old 15.09.2012, 13:05
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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I think the job security of a permie is all relative, even compared to the one of a freelancer. I don't know about the UK but when they decided to go for a round of redundancies at work(here in Switzerland), those who were asked to go were the permies while most of the externals stayed.
That's rare situation, here contractors are currently being fired while permies stay (contractors are practically ALWAYS more expensive than permies). Generally job security is of course better for permies, since you have something like 2-3 months notice period. My last contracting I didn't know whether I will work next month in the middle of current month. Prolongation were never more than 1-3 months. Very frustrating, indeed.
Average consulting can get practically same income as very good perm position, when you take into account paid vacation, bank days, sick days, cost of your nerves etc. Calculate at least per year, not per month (there contracting always wins, of course).
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Old 15.09.2012, 14:42
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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One of my colleagues told me that he was contracting in 2008 for 190k / year, and now he's employed for around 100k. Wow That's a huge difference. Yeah I know, if you're a contractor you get paid gross and you have to pay many taxes, social security and all these things... but still! 190k / year!!!
Contractors get no vacations, no sick leave, no job security and unless they are on payroll of recruiter they also get no unemployment benefits. Contractors are usually expected to work harder and start being productive almost instantly. Rule of the thumb: Subtract 1/3 from contractor's pay to get more or less equal fixed salary. So your friend was making around 125k in fixed salary in 2008.

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I would say that generally, middle management get paid around 150 - 200k CHF / year...
You are too optimistic. I poked into the employment world in Q1 2012 and my impression was that going rates today are 100-110k for senior IT specialist and 110-130k for mid level management. There where also rare exceptions to both sides of the scale with up to 180k for mid level management or 110k for upper level manager of entire IT.

This list did not include large financial corporations though as I generally do not apply there.

Personally I believe it was lost time, I regret doing it and should have better invested it into continued development of my own product.
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Old 15.09.2012, 15:32
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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Rule of the thumb: Subtract 1/3 from contractor's pay to get more or less equal fixed salary.
Not sure I'm buying that.
Day rates given to contractors include the employers contributions which have to be made. This is typically around 5% so knock that off for starters. How many days do you think you will work in a year (holiday and sickness should be taken into account) 0.95 x day rate x number of days = 'salary'

This will give you a basic value for the year.

Now you have to look at other benefits you may receive as a permy in the same role e.g. bonus (ha!), reduced mortgage rates (they're practically zero anyway), free canteen, free gym etc

Also don't forget to factor in employers pension contributions (assuming you think that this gigantic ponzi scheme will still have any money left in it in 20-30 years time)

If you honestly think that all the 'extras' that you get as a permy are things that you would genuinely take advantage of, then you can add them on to your base salary, and now you have the 'other' value to compare it to.
base + bonus + employers pension contribs + 'benefits' = 'salary'

Contracting - less security but more money and more choice of how that money gets spent, ease of moving in labour market

Permy - lots of training courses, potential of working overtime, other benefits, horrendously long notice periods, job security <cough>, possibility of promotion

In finance especially, with bonuses gone and headcount being cut, I don't really think there is a great deal to choose between them, assuming the 'salaries' are similar

----
On the subject of 'are jobs declining'
Yes
That said, there are some terrible practices right now involving onshoring - where a foreigner is brought to Switzerland to do the work.

This is where a company like cognizent or wipro will charge marginally less than a 'normal' employee or contractor, but they'll pay their own staff slave wages. Imagine the quality of employee that will get you!
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Old 15.09.2012, 16:30
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Re: Are jobs for software developers declining in Switzerland?

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Not sure I'm buying that.
Day rates given to contractors include the employers contributions which have to be made. This is typically around 5% so knock that off for starters.
Make it 9% for the start... See attached screenshot with details.
This is sample calculation from recruiter. Difference between "Anspruch" and "Bruttolohn" is what counts.

Add 4-5 weeks holidays, 2 weeks sick leave, 1-2 weeks public holidays and you have another 16%, then add almost guaranteed idle time between projects, no unemployment benefit if not on payroll e.t.c. and you'd be actually over 1/3.

Not that I say that contractors are poor but I think many people see only "fat numbers" and do not understand how much hassle the contracting is.
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