Good News for IT Grads

Worker shortages, increases in hiring, and growing wages create a perfect storm of opportunity for Information Technology graduates.

A confluence of several trends, ranging from the technological to the demographic, indicate that graduates with an information technology degree are well positioned for lucrative careers.

Worker shortages, industry growth, and faster-than-average wage increases are among the most prominent factors in a host of data that paint a bright picture of the employment landscape for IT workers.

According to data from the 2008-2009 Edition of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Career Guide to Industries, "Computer Systems Design and Related Services" is one of the nation's fastest growing industries, predicted to add 489,000 new jobs by 2016. In addition, the information super-sector is the nation's third fastest growing service industry.

While the number of IT jobs is on the rise, the number of workers qualified to fill them is on the decline. A labor supply already strained by a drop in technology-related degree enrollment will face additional pressure as the baby boom generation leaves the workforce. In all, roughly 43% of today's workers will become eligible for retirement by 2016.

Although there has been talk that offshoring will mitigate the benefits of the IT industry's growth, research indicates otherwise. According to the Association for Computing Machinery, to date only 1-3% of annual IT job loss is attributable to offshoring, a figure that pales in comparison to the industry's growth overall. Furthermore, some fields, such as Information Systems or Software Engineering, are inherently resistant to offshoring due to their complex, multifaceted nature.

"It's not that all of the IT jobs are leaving the country," said David E. Fenske, Dean of The iSchool at Drexel. "But the nature of many of these jobs is changing. There is a large and growing need for educated, versatile IT professionals who understand not only the technical side of the industry, but the human side as well."

Finally, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that average nonsupervisory wages in the "Computer Systems Design and Related Services" industry are more than twice the average for all industries and should continue to grow along with demand for qualified employees.

The combination of several trends points to an exciting future for workers who have the technical and interpersonal skills to capitalize on the needs of employers.


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