Rice Prof: Tech Jobs Are Back Again

Despite predictions of a couple of years ago of doom and gloom in the domestic market for computer jobs because of widespread "offshoring," a new study shows the number of IT jobs has actually increased. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams explains.

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The study by the Association for Computing Machinery shows there were 17-percent more IT jobs in the US at the end of 2004 than there in 1999. That comes as a surprise to some who predicted the domestic job market would be gutted by widespread outsourcing to other countries, most notably India. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi was a co-author of the study.

"By the middle of 2004, IT employment had already eclipsed the previous peak, which was the middle of 2002. While the "get worry" period of 2003 and 2004 were about offshoring, this was exactly the period where we had growth in IT jobs very consistently."

Vardi says many of the offshored jobs were call center jobs, while a bulk of the higher-level IT positions have remained in the United States. He says despite the encouraging news, other countries are becoming more competitive in the world of information systems.

"Competition is getting tighter. People should not read our report to say that there was nothing to worry about, chapter closed. What we said was that the worst case scenario did not materialize, but at the same time it is clear there is now global competition where it did not used to be before."

The report predicts IT jobs will be some of the fastest-growing occupations over the next decade, a projection that Vardi says might run into an unexected problem; not enough computer science graduates to keep up with demand.

"The irony is while employment numbers have gone up in the last two years dramatically, the number of students going into computer science has plummeted because the impression is that this is not a promising career. What will happen could be self-fulfilling. If employers are not able to find an educated work force in this country then they will have to offshore, they will have to go somewhere else to look for educated workers."

Dennis Adams is the chair of the Decision and Information Sciences Department in the Bauer College of Business at the University Of Houston and says information systems graduates have their pick of jobs in today's market.

"We're seeing hiring coming back pretty substantially now. I can pretty confidently say that almost 100-percent of the graduates coming out of our program have jobs and many of them have multiple offers. The supply of folks who can fill these jobs went way down and now that the demand is coming up, we're going to have a real labor shortage. It's a great time to be an information systems major."

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...