Why Bill Gates Shouldn't Be Worried About Technology Grads

03.27.08 | Work | 0 Comments | by Fred Siegmund

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When Bill Gates testified before Congress on March 13, he had his usual requests: more money for math and science education, more funds for research, and more visas for foreigners to come and work in the United States.

He claims foreigners need to come here to "maintain a competitive edge in technology innovation."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines 7 different computer occupations that need at least BA degree skills, and one in computer and information science research that requires a doctorate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these 8 occupations totaled 3.2 million jobs in 2006 and growing year by year.

However, computer programming jobs are down from over 500,000 in the late 1990s to fewer than 400,000 in 2006. The above mentioned research occupation has reported employment of 25,000 for 2006, but here the Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting annual growth under 1,000 per year.

When we look at the National Center for Education Statistics, we find 1,679 doctoral degrees in computer engineering and computer information sciences for the year ending June 2006.

The remaining 6 occupations needing at least BA degree skills include two specialty jobs in software engineering, and one each for systems analyst, database administrators, network computer systems administrator, and network systems and data communications analysts.

In our logical minds, recent graduates should compare to recent job growth for the United States to fill its computer jobs with graduates from American Universities. For the year ending June 2006, the National Center for Education Statistics reports 72,400 BA and MA degrees granted in computer and information science and degrees in computer engineering.

The average annual increase from 2004 to 2006 for the 6 computer occupations mentioned above was just over 75,000.

However, some of the nearly 20,000 MA degrees undoubtedly went to those who already have BA degrees in computing or computer engineering, so we doubt the 72,400 degrees represent new people available for computing jobs. Even so, jobs as computer programmers dropped an average of 10,000 per year from 2004 to 2006, which makes us doubt the need for 75,000 new graduates to fill those jobs.

The data for the recent years does not suggest large shortages of available degree candidates in computing from American Universities, despite Mr. Gates' worries. More ominous, though, is a decline in jobs as computer and information systems managers, down from just over 280,000 to just under 24,000 from 2004 to 2006, an average drop of 8,000 jobs a year.

We think Mr. Gates should tell us why!

Fred Siegmund covers America's jobs as part of work doing labor market analysis and projections for a client base of recruiters, trainers and counselors. Visit him at www.americanjobmarket.blogspot.com

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