William Grosso over at the O'Reilly Weblogs notes that "less than 5% of the available positions are for junior developers", and is looking for reasons why. He thinks that it's being caused by the economic environment, and that in a better economic environment the proportions would be different.
Maybe so, but I think there's more to it. One of the complaints I had at my last job was the practice of only hiring senior engineers, which predated even the Internet "bubble" years. I don't know whether this is becoming the norm elsewhere, but the thought was that the office didn't have time to let junior engineers grow, and there were enough senior engineers available in the area not to have to worry about it.
I haven't been able to articulate why this bothered me. It's more a feeling that an all-senior shop creates a bit of a fragile ecosystem, but I haven't been able to quantify this beyond such fuzzy terms.
One of the dangers of having an all-senior shop is that senior engineers tend not to have the off-hours time and energy for learning about everything coming down the pike. I know I don't spend as many off-hours learning about new technologies as I did ten years ago.
Another piece of anecdotal evidence: the first place I worked, the environment was about 20% junior, about 70% mid- to senior, and 10% what I'd consider "emeritus": people who had been in the industry since the Altair came out, and were mostly doing interesting research projects and setting technical direction. That seemed like a good mix.
I'm not sure what the mix is here, partially because the ranking system is in flux and we're growing so fast.
An aside: oreilly.weblogs.com forces you to create an account there before it will give you a trackback URL. That's surprisingly slimy from a company that usually does the right thing.