I recently found a pointer to an opinion article by Larry Peterson, Dean for the College of Science & Mathematics at Kennesaw State University, titled "Why Should I Invest in a Career in the Computer Science or Information Technology Field?" They are doing great things at KSU and I’m proud to be on the advisory board for their CyberTech program for high school students.
Dr. Peterson took a group of faculty to India this past summer to learn how things are there in science and technology. One of the lessons they learned is summed up in the following paragraph:
"There is no doubt that Indian students are much ‘hungrier’ in their search for knowledge and an education than students here in the United States. I came away, however, feeling that India (and ultimately China) is not our biggest challenge, but that apathy and misinformation will be more of a factor in our future competitiveness."
Apathy and misinformation is running rampant with regards to futures in computer science. There are still great jobs in the US for computer science professionals. But at the same time if the US does not have enough CS professionals to handle those jobs industry will be forced to send more jobs overseas. I worry that the idea that there are no jobs could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What are the facts? Quoting again from Dr. Peterson’s article:
"Such perceptions are counter to industry projections and those of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics who in fact predict that jobs in these fields will be among the fastest growing and highest paying over the next decade. In fact, according to the New York Times, "jobs that involve tailoring information technology to specific industries or companies like software engineers who make applications and specialized systems, have grown." Today, employment among IT professionals, has reached nearly 3.5 million by the end of last year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surpassing the 2000 high when the technology boom peaked."
And you know what else? Jobs in the computer industry are often fun, interesting and even exciting. We just need to get the right messages out to students, their parents and the people who are not funding enough CS education in middle and high schools.