The Future of Information Technology


There is widespread concern within the higher education IT sector about the job market in Australia, and the falling demand for IT degree places. I've been collecting counter stories for sometime, but only recently decided to assemble them here.

20090322: Computer Science Stages a Strong Comeback

By Margo McCall: On 3/17/09 10:55 PM (
After six years of stagnation, students are flocking back to computer science. Total enrollment per department by majors and pre-majors in US computer science programs is up 6.2 percent over last year. If only majors are considered, the increase is 8.1 percent, according to the Computing Research Association’s annual Taulbee Survey. The CRA surveyed 264 PhD-granting institutions in the US and Canada.

PhD production was up 5.7 percent this year, and the total number of new PhD students was up by 10 percent. Although enrollment is up in computer science departments, diversity in undergraduate programs remains poor. According to the survey, about 88 percent of computer science degrees were awarded to men and two-thirds to whites.

20060322: Job Outlook in the U.S.

Employment of computer systems analysts is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014 as organizations continue to adopt and integrate increasingly sophisticated technologies. Job increases will be driven by very rapid growth in computer system design and related services, which is projected to be among the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy. In addition, many job openings will arise annually from the need to replace workers who move into managerial positions or other occupations or who leave the labor force. Job growth will not be as rapid as during the previous decade, however, as the information technology sector begins to mature and as routine work is increasingly outsourced to lower-wage foreign countries.

Workers in the occupation should enjoy favorable job prospects. The demand for networking to facilitate the sharing of information, the expansion of client-server environments, and the need for computer specialists to use their knowledge and skills in a problem-solving capacity will be major factors in the rising demand for computer systems analysts. Moreover, falling prices of computer hardware and software should continue to induce more businesses to expand their computerized operations and integrate new technologies into them. In order to maintain a competitive edge and operate more efficiently, firms will keep demanding system analysts who are knowledgeable about the latest technologies and are able to apply them to meet the needs of businesses.

Increasingly, more sophisticated and complex technology is being implemented across all organizations, which should fuel the demand for these computer occupations. There is a growing demand for system analysts to help firms maximize their efficiency with available technology. Expansion of electronic commerce - doing business on the Internet - and the continuing need to build and maintain databases that store critical information on customers, inventory, and projects are fueling demand for database administrators familiar with the latest technology. Also, the increasing importance being placed on "cybersecurity" - the protection of electronic information - will result in a need for workers skilled in information security.

The development of new technologies usually leads to demand for various kinds of workers. The expanding integration of Internet technologies into businesses, for example, has resulted in a growing need for specialists who can develop and support Internet and intranet applications. The growth of electronic commerce means that more establishments use the Internet to conduct their business online. The introduction of the wireless Internet, known as WiFi, creates new systems to be analyzed. The spread of such new technologies translates into a need for information technology professionals who can help organizations use technology to communicate with employees, clients, and consumers. Explosive growth in these areas also is expected to fuel demand for analysts who are knowledgeable about network, data, and communications security.

As technology becomes more sophisticated and complex, employers demand a higher level of skill and expertise from their employees. Individuals with an advanced degree in computer science or computer engineering, or with an MBA with a concentration in information systems, should enjoy favorable employment prospects. College graduates with a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, information science, or MIS also should enjoy favorable prospects for employment, particularly if they have supplemented their formal education with practical experience. Because employers continue to seek computer specialists who can combine strong technical skills with good interpersonal and business skills, graduates with non-computer-science degrees, but who have had courses in computer programming, systems analysis, and other information technology subjects, also should continue to find jobs in computer fields. In fact, individuals with the right experience and training can work in computer occupations regardless of their college major or level of formal education.

Repost from Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition U.S. Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bulletin 2600 See the original here.

20060308: Outsourcing of Computer Jobs a Misconception

While the perception that computing jobs are migrating overseas dampens interest in math and science among college students, a recent ACM study has found that the widespread outsourcing of tech jobs is largely a myth. The fear that jobs are disappearing could sap the domestic labor supply, warns Robert Walker, associate professor of computer science at Kent State University. ACM's task force of computer scientists, economists, and social scientists found that between 2 percent and 3 percent of computer-related jobs are being lost to foreign countries, while new, higher-level domestic jobs are being created in their place. "The offshoring of jobs in the computer industry isn't a big problem," said C.C. Lu, computer science professor at Kent State. "No matter how offshore it's going, we still need a lot of software engineers here."

The ACM study also found that Canada is the most popular destination for outsourced positions, followed by Ireland. India ranks third, though much of the work there is in low-level call center jobs. Call center work is considered a career in India, and Walker contends that the country lacks the infrastructure to establish the research required for advanced computer jobs. "I hope the guidance counselors and teachers don't give students wrong information," Walker said. "Things aren't bad now, there are plenty of good-paying jobs." Walker cautions, however, that fears of outsourcing could become a self-fulfilling prophecy if they discourage students from studying math and science, forcing U.S. companies to look overseas for skilled workers. The NSF has found that computer science graduates earn the highest median income among all science graduates. To view "Globalization and Offshoring of Software -- A Report of the ACM Job Migration Task Force," visit this link

Daily Kent Stater (03/08/06) Whinnery, Megan

20060111: New BLS Projections: IT jobs to grow by more than a million between 2004 and 2014

At the CRA Bulletin, Jay Vegso has the first part of what will be a three-part look at the new Bureau of Labor Statistics workforce projections for 2004-2014. Some noteable bits:

Of course, the usual caveats for long-term projections of anything should apply here ("notoriously unreliable," "a crap shoot," etc) but this is the current "best guess" of your Federal Government.

We've put some additional IT workforce data over at our IT Workforce page. There you'll also find a link to an article written by John Sargent, a senior policy analyst at the Department of Commerce's Office of Technology Policy for Computing Research News on the last set of projections. And to top it off, Jay also has a number of good posts on the IT workforce debate at the CRA Bulletin.

Repost from here

20050921: What Makes a Great IT Pro

Australian IT managers predict that skills requirements for professionals in their field will be more business- and people-oriented five years from now. Sydney Harbor Foreshore Authority IT manager Virginia Orr says there was a greater concentration on operational and technical skills five years ago, mostly because more manual intervention was necessary for systems and applications; looking five years ahead, she thinks IT managers will need to be more assertive "about working with the business to understand its needs and identify where technology offers a better solution." Orr advises managers to expand their skills, possibly by pursuing studies in accounting and law, or MBAs. IDC Australia's Peter Hind foresees better communication and writing skills as critical considerations for IT managers in the next half-decade. Among the qualities of great IT managers Hind expects are a lack of tech zealotry, an openness to options, savvy without recklessness or foolishness, a priority on IT output, and boldness. Orr describes a vital IT manager as one with skills in business analysis, budget management, risk management, people management, and negotiation; a strong focus on customer service; the ability to cultivate an environment based on teamwork and personal development; and proficiency in managing competing demands in a high-volume setting. Former SunWater IT manager Luke Smith does not think managers' shift in focus to business needs is necessarily a positive step, as the emphasis on non-IT areas may cause IT-centric issues such as security to receive less attention. His advice for IT managers is to be honest about their unfamiliarity with technology, to act as a leader rather than a director, to be aware that the IT staff's requirements and desires differ from those of other personnel, and above all, to listen. Click Here to View Full Article

Computerworld Australia (09/21/05); Gedda, Rodney. Repost from ACM technical News, Volume 7, Issue 847: Wednesday, 28 September 2005

20050916: Computer Science Majors Find Jobs Easily

College students in the El Paso-Las Cruces area came out for a free seminar involving IBM executives to learn more about the opportunities available to them in pursuing a career in information technology. "Hundreds of thousands of high-tech jobs in the United States go unfulfilled because of the lack of qualified computer science graduates," said IBM's Mark Hanny. Hanny participated in the seminar at the University of Texas El Paso, along with Irene Hernandez Roberts of Austin IBM, as part of a series to get Hispanics and women more interested in the IT industry. Ann Gates, director of the UTEP Computer Science Department, said too many students believe the computer science field is for geeks who enjoy sitting alone in front of a computer all day. "Computer science majors are all over the world, as well as in the local business community, coming up with innovative ideas and applying them to solve problems," she said. UTEP launched a computer science doctoral program this fall, but Gates said the number of computer science majors has reached a 10-year low because of the poor image people have of tech jobs. Click Here to View Full Article

El Paso Times (TX) (09/16/05); Flynn, Ken. Repost from ACM Technical News, Volume 7, Issue 843: 19 September 2005

20050916: Mainframe Programmers Wanted

Mainframe technology still pervades the industry, flouting the oft-repeated prediction that its days are numbered: Indeed, roughly 70 percent of corporate data are stored on mainframes. As the baby-boomers near retirement, businesses are seeing a shortage of programmers proficient with mainframe technology; the brain drain is quite measurable, as only one mainframe programmer is added for every two that leave the workforce. "There is a growing concern we are rapidly losing qualified people who understand mainframes, and we are subsequently losing the capability to use the systems, which means ultimately if you can't use them, they'll be left to rust," says Air Traffic Software Architecture's Robert Stanley. University programs do not adequately educate students about mainframes, and outsourcing efforts have also compromised the influx of mainframe programmers. Other analysts argue that the crush is not so severe, noting that the average salary of mainframe programmers has not skyrocketed as it would were the shortage dire. Still, outsourcing efforts are undermining the job pool for those programmers who are proficient with mainframes, which often produces work of lesser quality. IBM has announced a program of partnering with universities with the goal of introducing 20,000 mainframe programmers into the workforce by 2010. More universities are including mainframe programs in their curricula, but it remains a challenge to convince students to pursue them, as many are being steered toward object-oriented programming and believe that mainframes will soon be obsolete. Click Here to View Full Article

InformationWeek (09/12/05) No. 1055, P. 62; Dunn, Darrell. Repost from ACM technical News, Volume 7, Issue 842: Friday, September 16, 2005

20050627: IT Field Now Faces Worker Shortage

In a dramatic reversal of the dismal job scene that followed the dot-com collapse, many students graduating with computer science degrees are finding jobs right out of college. While the demand for computer scientists has cooled, the level of interest among students in a field perceived as unstable and risky has dropped off precipitously. The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA reports a 60 percent decline in interest among freshman in computer science from 2000 to 2004. Declining enrollment has many experts worried about the future of America's IT workforce in the face of greater foreign competition. "Students who majored in [computer science] because they thought it meant instant riches dropped away," said University of Virginia associate professor of computer science Kevin Sullivan. With that myth now shattered, students are looking increasingly toward other disciplines. In an effort to address the problem, Intel is partnering with colleges to renew interest in IT, and has given universities in California $2 million to create a program that will offer dual degrees in math or computer science and teaching. Some schools, such as George Mason University, are also shifting their curricula to emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to computer science. "The logic is, if we can teach people how they can apply computer science to one discipline, they may be able to apply the same tools to another discipline," said Arun Sood, chair of GMU's computer science department. Click Here to View Full Article

Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) (06/27/05); Kan, Michael. Repost from ACM technical News, Volume 7, Issue 810: Wednesday, June 29, 2005

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