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BLS Data On Jobs Projections May Be B.S.

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Suggestions by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on tech job growth forecasts have been disputed.

In the BLS list of the fastest growing occupations from 2002 through 2012, computer application engineers and systems software engineers made the top ten list, as did network systems and data communications analysts.

Those figures, released in February 2004, should be a call for high school graduates to consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences in college, and reverse a continuing decline in computer science enrollment.

Or should it?

Correspondence from John Miano and Kim Berry of the Programmers Guild questioned a publicly discussed contention originating from the NEA’s annual meeting that high school students should consider computer classes. They cited the continued growing practice of outsourcing well-paying programming jobs and computer industry calls for removal of the H-1B visa cap.

In short, why enter a field where US employers have minimal desire or need for domestic computer engineering graduates?

Doctor Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at UC Davis, wonders the same thing. He contends the shortage of computer students is more of a concern for college administrators than the faculty who teach them. “We finally have classes of manageable size. It’s the administrators who are alarmed at the drop,” he writes in a newsletter.

Dr. Matloff places the blame for the problem on the computer industry and its lobbyists who inflated claims of job shortages in the 1990s. Those well-publicized claims led to many students entering the computer science field, only to graduate to an economy that didn’t need them and didn’t want them.

“The industry’s shrill and false claims in the 1990s of a software labor shortage not only provided the basis for Congress’s expansion of the H-1B program, but also produced a huge, unwarranted growth in the labor supply,” Dr. Matloff said.

Should these claims be true, it would seem to indicate the computer industry, through its lobbyists, created enough support to get Congress to lift the cap on H-1B visas to allow it to outsource programming jobs, either through hiring foreign workers or by directly sending those jobs out of the country.

Computer classes at the high school level can be useful to students in later life. The vast majority of them will be purchasers of high-tech items. Even a modest grounding in computer knowledge can help someone competently purchase a PC system, and perform routine updates and maintenance without being dependent on more technically knowledgeable friends and family.

But students and their parents should be very cognizant of the many high-tech workers today, displaced from decent jobs for various reasons, who have minimal chances at finding positions in the IT industry ever again.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

BLS Data On Jobs Projections May Be B.S.
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