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Policy and Research Publications Online Reports

America's New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers (1997)

Abstract: 
The following information is extracted from the document's introduction. The sweep of digital technologies and the transformation to a knowledge-b ased economy have created robust demand for workers highly skilled in the use of information technology. In the past ten years alone, employment in the U. S. computer and software industries has almost tripled. The demand for worke rs who can create, apply and use information technology goes beyond these industries, cutting across manufacturing and services, transportation, he alth care, education and government. Having led the world into the Information Age, there is substantial evide nce that the United States is having trouble keeping up with the demand for n ew information technology workers. A recent survey of mid- and large-size U. S. companies by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) con cluded that there are about 190,000 unfilled information technology (IT) jobs in the United States today due to a shortage of qualified workers. In another st udy, conducted by Coopers and Lybrand, nearly half the CEOs of America's faste st growing companies reported that they had inadequate numbers of informatio n technology workers to staff their operations. Evidence suggests that job growth in information technology fields now ex ceeds the production of talent. Between 1994 and 2005, more than a million new computer scientists and engineers, systems analysts, and computer program mers will be required in the United States -- an average of 95,000 per year. O ne difficulty is that the formal, four-year education system is producing a small proportion of the workers required. Only 24,553 U.S. students earned bach elor's degrees in computer and information sciences in 1994. While many IT worke rs acquire the needed skills through less formal training paths, it is diffi cult to determine whether such training can be adequately expanded to meet the demand for IT skills. This shortage of IT workers is not confined within the borders of the Uni ted States. Other studies, including work by the Stanford Computer Industry P roject, document that there is a world wide shortage of IT workers. That industri es in other nations are facing similar problems exacerbates the U.S. problem since the geographic location of such workers is of decreasing importance to th e conduct of the work. U.S. employers will face tough competition from empl oyers around the world in a tight global IT labor pool. Thus, the United States cannot expect to meet its long-term needs through increased immigration or forei gn ' outsourcing, and must rely on retaining and updating the skills of today' s IT workers as well as educating and training new ones. Since information technology is an enabling technology that affects the e ntire economy, our failure to meet the growing demand for IT professionals coul d have severe consequences for America's competitiveness, economic growth, and j ob creation. This paper is an initial effort to explore this complex and evolving chal lenge. It begins by considering the different ways in which interested parties h ave defined the challenge, and reviewing the various ways of defining the IT worker. It considers the state of supply and demand for IT workers and assesses the potential consequences of a failure to meet the country's ne ed for these workers. To lay the foundation for further development of polic y responses to this challenge, the paper also highlights some of the measur es that companies are taking to meet their short-term and long-term needs fo r IT workers. Examples of partnerships between industry, government, and educational institutions are also provided with the hope of encouraging improved interactions among concerned groups. In exploring these issues, the paper recognizes that information technology is evolving rapidly, wit h resulting shifts in labor requirements. Accordingly, this paper is, at be st, a snapshot of a rapidly changing phenomenon. [Click Here] to View the Complete Report Report in .PDF


There are 36 pages in this report.

 


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