I recall a job posting a month after the first version of Java was released. They wanted JAVA EXPERTS with 5 years of experience.
Time multiplexed purple squirrels required... must also have green stripes.
There has been another hudden riding issue here for years as well. That being that many jobs posted for engineers in the US are only posted in order to retain existing H1-B employee candidates at a particular company. Companies are required to post any H1-B positions as open reqs, and hence they pretty much try to exclude anyone that might take a job from an H1-B that a company wants to retain (and typically for lower wages). This process was rampant at the last two large companies I worked at in the Silicon Valley.
It is worse than that. Most jobs require insane qualifications like: must speak English, Mandrin and Hindi fluently, must have walked on the moon, must have an MBA and have two PhDs, must be willing to relocate to China. Most jobs of late also only offer low wages and typically they are only contract positions. For example, of late in the PNW, I**** offers a max of $40 a hour, regardless of experience and education. The toughest requirement lately is that typically you must be employed now. I have been a perfect fit for several jobs lately, but they tossed my resume because I am not employed as an engineer RIGHT NOW. So the engineering jobs pool is limited to those that are employed as engineers.
You know that if shortage of qualified engineers goes from 15 to 60 percent in one year, it has to be the companies themselves that invented this problem. Had this been a time of very low unemployment, MAYBE that statistic would make some sense. As things are, it makes no sense.
It's simple. If companies have ridiculous practices like "don't bother applying if you are unemployed," or the "purple squirrel" approach that Frank mentioned, they deserve all the problems in hiring that come their way.
Let's see: impossible requirements, no ramp-up time, no training and they don't want to pay. I think that about covers it.
The ideal candidate is always the one who is already doing whatever your next project is.
The inflexibility problem has a name -- recruiters call it the "purple squirrel" problem, where a company defines a position with such depth and precision that is impossible to fill, except by some mythical creature like a purple squirrel.
In some cases, the job posting is just plain stupid, like "Senior USB 3.0 designer, must have 10 years experience designing USB 3.0"
This simply put is an issue with job position advertisements. Somewhere in the equation (go look at job boards) HR and hiring manager write these page long thesis on the ultimate employee (looking for superman or superwomen) to save their company. In addition, a string of personality/psychological traits desired that probably no one on the planet could attain. The bottom line is if these companies compared their own personnel with the position requirements, no one would be qualified. So what would a savvy search be, look broad, have someone besides a non-technical HR clerk screen candidates and look for candidate depth. In addition, challenge your job description writers to 6-10 key bullets and thatís it. You would be surprised the effect would have in simplicity vs. looking for that pseudo employee that can walk on water and convert coal into diamonds.
Isn't the 9% of people that are unemployed mostly made up of the Great Unwashed? How many of them are engineers?
Management has always tried to model employees, including engineers, as plug and play lumps of meat. That makes project planning and budgeting spreadsheets much easier even if this fails to reflect reality. This strategy might have worked in the past when a graduate could expect to emerge from college with a reasonable % of industry knowledge under their belts. With the explosion of technical detail that is no longer the case. A graduate is an empty vessel.
It is also not surprising that companies are doing less training. Years ago people took jobs for life and training investment made sense.
These days the workforce is far more fluid and the onus falls far more on the employee to develop their skills. If you want to work in a specific area then start to skill up on that.