by Gary Beach

IT Staff Recruiting Starts in the Classroom

May 01, 20012 mins
IT Leadership

Chief Information Officers are finding it easier to retain and recruit IT professionals, according to a recent poll by CIO and Deutsche Banc Alex.Brown. Some point to the thousands of tech workers pink-slipped by technology companies. Others look to failed dotcoms.

For whatever reason, the main point is this: The influx of available workers is temporary, and the quality of the available talent pool is not exactly desirable.

Last year, the Information Technology Association of America ( estimated that the U.S. economy created 900,000 new jobs needing tech skills. Of those, 425,000 jobs went vacant, and no amount of fired technology workers, dotcom workers or H1-B visa carriers is going to fill that vacuum–even if the economy continues to languish in its economic fog.

What really worries me is a report from the Computing Research Association. The CRA stated that colleges and universities face a shortage of applicants for faculty positions in computer science and IT because too few students are graduating with doctoral degrees in those fields.

According to the report, 880 IT and computer science doctoral degrees were awarded by colleges and universities in the United States in 2000, the lowest number since 1990. The culprit? Undergrad and master’s degree candidates in those programs realize that they do not need to complete a PhD to get a good-paying, nonacademic job.

All the while, America’s community colleges, four-year colleges and universities face soaring undergraduate enrollments in computer science and IT. Moreover, according to a review I chaired for the Board of Higher Education in Massachusetts, these undergraduates are often walking into classrooms with teachers not schooled in the new technologies. “We will get to XML in May, maybe,” encapsulates sentiments we heard among tenured computer department faculty during the review.

Not having enough technology workers in the workforce is not the most serious threat facing the long-term continued prosperity of American businesses around the world. Not having enough qualified computer science and IT in higher education classrooms is.

Our country must fix this systemic problem with systemic solutions. Business leaders, CIOs and government can no longer sit on the sidelines of this critical academic playing field. What can you do to help solve this problem? Willing to lend your brightest tech workers to academia in an “adjunct professor, Peace Corps” effort? Got an idea? Send it along. We are all in this boat together.