IT workforce development: Losing the numbers game

IT workforce development: Losing the numbers game by Joe Vanden Plas

This article is somewhat regional, dealing with the software industry in southeastern Wisconsin, but the topic of declining enrollment in Computer Science and other computer technology fields is dealt with very well.

Fundamentally, there simply are not enough students in the pipeline to replace the technologists that soon will be retiring in droves, and with computer science enrollment dropping precipitously, IT jobs are either being unfilled or are taking long periods of time to fill.

As a result, businesses are having difficulty finding creative problem solvers in an era where “IT genes” exist in just about every job, even those that seemingly are irrelevant to technology.

Robin Pickering, a recruiting manager for Manpower Professional in Milwaukee, said the talent shortage started several years ago when colleges and universities experienced a dip in the number of students going into computer science and engineering.

That’s a good characterization of the problem. This next quote is, in my opinion, right on in its assessment of some of the key factors in the current crisis.

Several culprits have been cited. Certain segments of the media are blamed for the way they covered the dotcom bust, which coincided with the start of declining enrollments in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines, and their inability (or unwillingness) to cover issues like offshoring in their full context. The coverage has played a role in creating the myths that IT salaries are low and all the jobs have been moved overseas.

I believe the market for software and computer talent in the U.S. has never been stronger (and that’s even in the presence of offshoring and outsourcing).

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