Sign In

Communications of the ACM


Are There Too Many IT Jobs or Too Many IT Workers?

View as: Print Mobile App Share:
Mark Guzdial

Georgia Institute of Technology professor Mark Guzdial


The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have been updated (as of November 2009), to reflect the Great Recession.  The news is terrific for us — computing is only forecast to grow, and at an amazing rate.

“Computer and mathematical” occupations are projected to grow by the largest percentage between now and 2018 — by 22.2%. In other words, “Computer and mathematical” occupations are the fastest growing occupational cluster within the fastest growing major occupational group.

via Computing Community Consortium.

DARPA is so concerned about the lack of IT workers (and the lack of diversity of the ones that they have) that they have launched a new research project to develop more and more diverse IT workers.

DARPA has launched a “far-out research” project to increase the number of students going into “CS-STEM” (Computer Science and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.  Wired just covered this effort to address the “Geek shortage.”

What makes the Wired piece so interesting is the enormous and harsh pushback in the comments section, like the below:

I’m 43, with a degree in software engineering and enjoy what I do for a living. But I wouldn’t encourage my 12 year old son to major in CS or similar because interesting, new project development jobs are the first to disappear in a down economy and non-cutting edge skills are easily offshored and new hires are cheaper than retraining outdated workers.

Why get a 4 year degree for a career with a 15 year shelflife?

via Darpa: U.S. Geek Shortage Is National Security Risk | Danger Room |

Are these complaints from a vocal small group, or are do they represent a large constituency? Why is there this disconnect, between claims of great need and claims of no jobs? Are old IT workers no longer what industry wants? Is BLS only counting newly created jobs and not steady-state jobs? Is the IT job market constantly churning? Is industry not training existing people and instead hiring new people? It’s a real problem, to argue for the need for more IT in the face of many (vocal) unemployed IT workers.




Mark Guzdial

Michael Klling just wrote an interesting note in my Computing Education blog on Wordpress citing evidence from the UK that is similarly contradictory. While their labor statistics similarly say that IT jobs are in great demand, CS majors are more likely than most STEM majors to still be out of work six months after graduation.

Displaying comments 11 - 11 of 11 in total