IT graduates face wealth of jobs

Todd Milbourn

When the 1,000 students graduating this spring from the Institute of Technology toss their caps into the air, many might have job offers before their tassels even hit the ground.
A study published last week by the Information Technology Association of America, an industry trade group, indicated there is a major gap between the supply of qualified workers and labor demand within the information-technology industry.
The study found that of the estimated 1.5 million information-technology jobs to be created in the United States this year, companies will only be able to fill about half of those positions.
“If you’re graduating this spring, the IT job market is the best it has been in 25 to 30 years,” said Honeywell spokesman Bryce Hallowell. “There is no question that the market is tremendously hot.”
Information technology is one of the country’s fastest growing industries. Jobs in the field include computer programming, online services, software manufacturing and systems integration.
The ITAA is a trade group based in Arlington, Va., representing the U.S. information-technology industry. Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and DeVry are among the group’s 11,000 corporate members.
ITAA researchers based the study on 700 telephone interviews with managers from technology-heavy as well as more traditional companies.
Pen Yew, University associate head of computer science, attributes the worker shortage to technology and communication revolutions.
“Because the growth-rate curve of the Internet has been so steep, it’s been impossible to meet the demand immediately,” Yew said.
The study found workers with training in technical support, e-business and interactive media are among the most in demand.
To fill those positions, employers are seeking workers with technical skills and personal and team abilities.
“Technology skills might become obsolete in months, but personal skills are needed for the long-run,” said Sharon Kurt, IT career services director.
The deficit of highly trained technology professionals is not, however, limited to private companies. The University and colleges throughout the country are being affected by the shortage.
“We have four or five open faculty positions in the (computer science) department,” Yew said. “It’s been tough to hire people because our situation is common to all computer science departments in the country.”
“It’s been tight all around,” Kurt said.
Although companies are working diligently to fill technology positions, and universities are scrambling to turn out qualified workers, the demand for skilled workers is likely to continue for years to come.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I don’t see anything that will derail this train,” Hallowell added.

Todd Milbourn covers technology. He welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3231.