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Demand Exceeding Supply of Info Tech Workers

October 10, 1997

Job growth in information technology (IT) now exceeds the production of talent, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Technology Policy (OTP) study, America's New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers. A recent survey of mid- and large-size U.S. companies by the Information Technology Association of American (ITAA) concluded that there are about 190,000 unfilled IT jobs in the U.S. today due to a shortage of qualified workers.

Because information technology is an enabling technology that affects the entire economy, the failure to meet the growing demand for information technology professionals could have severe consequences for the United States' competitiveness, economic growth, and job creation.

Evidence suggests that job growth in IT fields now exceeds the production of talent. Between 1994 and 2005, more than a million new computer scientists and engineers, systems analysts, and computer programmers will be required in the U.S., an average of 95,000 per year. In 1994, only 24,533 students earned a bachelor's degree in computer and information sciences.

The study explores this problem by considering the state of supply and demand for information technology workers, and assesses the potential consequences of failing to meet the country's need for these workers. The study also highlights some of the measures that companies are taking to meet their need for workers.

The study concludes that it is essential to improve the understanding of the information technology labor market. In particular, there is a lack of detailed indicators and statistics, the need for a better understanding of linkages, and a need for stakeholder partnerships.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Education, the Information Technology Association of American, and the University of California-Berkeley, has formed six task forces which bring together leaders in industry, government, and academia to discuss the underlying factors which may be causing an information technology worker shortage. The task forces will meet throughout the fall of 1997 to explore these issues and develop strategies to address them. These strategies will be discussed at a national convocation in January 1998.

America's New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers is available on the Internet at http://www.ta.doc.gov/otpolicy/reports.htm. Acrobat 3.01 is required to download the report.