As demand for Java skills grows, IT departments are struggling to find permanent Java programmers with business experience and are having to train existing staff to fill vacancies.
Recruiters expect the shortage to worsen as an increasing number of City finance houses, telcos and broadcasters, such as BSkyB and Nomura, adopt Sun Microsystems' language to use in core systems.
A Java programmer with a solid CV can command a salary between £40,000 and £50,000, according to Michael Lappin, a consultant at recruitment agency Best. Java staff are keen on challenging work, and can be choosy about jobs, he says.
"You could advertise a post at £55,000 and still not get a response," while some users offering cutting edge work and training get away with paying salaries below £30,000, Lapin said.
Simon Wassall, manager of agency Harvey Nash's contracts division, said many people claiming to be Java programmers only have experience through experimenting with the language at home.
The majority of trained Java staff tend to work as contractors for around £40 an hour, or are employed full time by software vendors, says Lappin.
Ovum analyst Gary Barnett said IT departments must consider cross training programmers already experienced in languages such as C++.
"It's a fairly straightforward transition," he said.
Colin Etheridge, consultant at employment agency Elan, said companies should tackle the 'acute' shortage by training graduates in-house.
Sun's education consulting manager Jay Dear said the vendor's certification scheme included job focused training. The language's rapid growth means it is difficult to say when the skills shortage will end, he added.
For further stories see 6 May issue of Computing
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