Creating supply for the new workforce

U.S. companies struggle to fill worker shortage gap in Information Technology

As the millennium approaches, American companies are scrambling to fill a growing worker shortage in the important information technology (IT) industry. This creates ample opportunities for people of color to become computer scientists and engineers, systems analysts and computer programmers (See “Tech Careers 2001,” November 1998).

But how extensive is the problem? The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 1996 and 2006, the U.S. will need over 1.3 million new IT workers to fill newly created positions and replace workers who are leaving the field.

Due to the rapid technological changes occurring almost daily in this sector, colleges and universities haven’t been able to keep up in providing graduates with the skills they’ll need on the job. At the same time, educators have criticized businesses for defining their requirements for IT positions too narrowly; others say that the constant appearance of new versions of software products have given companies unrealistic expectations about recent hires.

Consequently, government agencies, private industry and educators are now partnering their efforts and resources to help American workers sharpen their computer skills. One example is the “Go for IT” online database (www.ta.doc.gov/go4it) sponsored by the Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration, which provides regional listings of participating IT training programs and schools around the country. The information superhighway is the new yellow brick road-paved in bytes of gold.

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