OSS Age-ism

Why would any company pay a computer programmer with out-of-date skills a salary of say $150,000, when it can hire a fresh graduate — who has no skills — for around $60,000? Even if it spends a month training the younger worker, the company is still far ahead. The young understand new technologies better than the old do, and are like a clean slate.”
Vivek Wadhwa
in a blog entry entitled “The Tech Industry’s Darkest Secret: It’s All About Age

There are aspects of this that are true in the world of OSS, that programming tools are evolving and the younger generation tend to be more up-to-date with these technologies. However, the linchpins of the industry are the ones who can make cross-domain connections and are far more than just programmers. Cross-domain knowledge takes far longer than one month of training and an OSS-newbie will generally take six months before they start producing value to their organisation.

The relatively few OSS linchpins out there deliver far more than $150k of value to their employers and the graduate probably delivers less than $60k of value, in the first year at least. The real value of the graduate is the clean slate and their net present value if they have a thirst for learning and the ability to become linchpins in the future.

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