Archive for January 17, 2010

The disconnect between the Geek shortage and the Geek layoffs

Aaron Lanterman pointed this article out to me.  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disappear in a down economy and non-cutting edge skills are easily offshored and new hires are cheaper than retraining outdated workers.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 | Wired.com.

As Aaron describes it:

The comments are *flooded* with *incredibly pissed off* CS/IT/whatever-you-want-to-call-it of various stripes who have been laid off (usually claim to have had their job outsourced to China or India, or had someone with an H1B take over their job). I saw a few instanced of H1B being used as a verb, as in people saying “I got H1Bed.”

It does seem there is a massive disconnect between the “not enough kids are going into computer science” meme and the reality of Electronic Arts laying off 1500 people, Microsoft laying off 5,000 people.

This is a real problem with making this argument.  On the one hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is telling us about all the new IT jobs being created.  On the other hand, there are so many IT workers who have been laid off.  Why is there this disconnect?  Are the 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?  It’s a real problem, to argue for the need for more IT in the face of unemployed IT workers.

January 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm 15 comments


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