UK Computer Industry at a Crossroads

    November 22, 2006

The BBC is running an interesting article on the number of qualified skilled people wanting to work in the computer industry, and the lack of said people who are coming through the college ranks.

This is not just a UK issue, but an American issue as well. The number of folks in college in the USA seeking computer science degrees is at an all time low. Something to think about when recruiting, or seeking new employees is that the pool is getting smaller, and those in the pool are going to ask for a lot more than they are getting now.

American Stats on this as stated by computer weekly are:

Experts say this problem will only get worse by 2010. As the demand for IT-savvy staffers continues to grow, the number of people seeking computer science degrees is in a free fall. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one out of every four new jobs between now and 2012 will be IT-related,” says Mark Hanny, vice president of IBM’s Academic Initiative outreach program. Yet according to the Computing Research Association, the percentage of college freshmen listing computer science as their probable major fell 70% between 2000 and 2004. The drop-off has been even more severe among women, who, although they now make up the majority of students on college campuses, account for only 28% of the computer science bachelor’s degrees granted, down from 38% in 1984. (Computer Weekly)

While the BBC reports:

“We believe we have a crisis,” said Mr Shadbolt, who is professor of artificial intelligence in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of SouthamptonProfessor Shadbolt has released previously unpublished research which shows that in the past four years demand for IT and computer graduates has doubled while at the same time the number of students studying the subject has declined by a third.” (BBC UK)

Given that the US and the UK are both facing a similar crisis in good skilled or degreed people in the field how do we make up those shortfalls? Unfortunately the Web 2.0 boom is coming on very quietly and in small groups who are shunning VC’s in favor of going it alone until someone comes along and buys them out. So there is little to no media attention of what is happening in the various computer hotspots world wide.

Nor are there really any incentives to become a “computer geek”, either the rewards are not there, or facing a life time of working with technology just does not have the appeal. No money, no sexy job descriptions (gone are the days were job descriptions included words like super hero, code ninja, sales foo), and really few if any incentives to want to come work in the field.

Since we are also in a moving target kind of field, the requirements for life long learning are a necessity. While it would be great to just stop and take a breather, in many computer fields the pressure to perform, out produce, out think and out whit the competition is always growing. Budgets have been do more with less, productivity up costs down, leading to a really negative view of what is happening in the world of computers.

Computers, technology, security are not for everyone, but overall, it makes for a great time if you like to work with some of the most challenging puzzles of our day. We just need to get a “make over” for technology to bring in the new folks who will be taking over our jobs in 20/30 years. We need a youtube for technology, or a MySpace for technology to show that we are not all just a bunch of folks in a cube farm. Now where did I leave that nerf gun.



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Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both
civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management.
Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through
his blog, Managing
Intellectual Property & IT Security
, and is an active participant in the
ITtoolbox blogging community.