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Federal Government Announces New Plans to Support IT Worker Development

January 23, 1998

The Clinton Administration has announced initiatives to finance computer training and retraining programs to meet the dramatically increasing demand for Information Technology (IT) workers. The announcement occurred at the National Information Technology Workforce Convocation, an event to facilitate broad-based solutions to the worker shortage.

The announcement came on the same day that a new study was released by the Information Technology Association of American (ITAA) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The study found extensive IT worker shortages exist throughout the United States. Approximately 346,000 IT positions -- or 10% of the total IT workforce -- are currently unfilled.

In addition, U.S. Labor Department projections show that the demand for computer scientists, systems analysts and programmers will double over the next 10 years, with 1.3 million new workers needed to fill high-tech, high-wage jobs.

Specific programs announced by the Administration include expanding industry involvement in school-to-work. The Departments of Labor and Education will provide $6 million in grants for industry groups that expand private-sector involvement in providing young people vocational skills. The Department of Labor will also invest an additional $3 million to fund state and local programs that train dislocated workers for high-technology jobs.

The Department of Commerce's planned activities include the grant competition for approximately $17 million under the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (see related story for additional information). The Department will also convene four town-hall meetings this year where representatives of business, academia, state and local governments, and employee organizations can discuss IT work force needs, identify best practices, and showcase successful models that others can replicate.

Finally, the Department of Commerce plans to launch an effort based on the National Medal of Technology to promote public understanding of information technology's role in the American economy and to stimulate student interest in preparing for and pursuing careers in IT fields. The program will highlight the achievements and contributions of past Medal winners.

The report released by ITAA presents the consequences if the current worker shortage situation is not improved. The study concludes that in the absence of sufficient numbers of IT workers, the U.S. can expect to see slower growth in the IT industry which will lead to slower job growth and less wealth creation for the nation as a whole.