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The Supply of Information Technology Workers in the United States

Transmittal Letter

May 1999

We are pleased to enclose a copy of the report, The Supply of Information Technology Workers in the United States, for your information.

For the past several years, many people have had the perception that there is a shortage of information technology workers that could have a serious effect on virtually every sector of U.S. society. This report undertakes a careful and balanced review of the contradictory and incomplete information that is available about this topic.

We find that the data are inadequate to count supply and demand in a way that meets the standards of social science. Therefore we cannot state conclusively that there is a shortage or quantify how large it might be. However, the examination of seven kinds of data strongly suggests that there is either a true shortage, or a tight labor market with spot shortages.

To advance the policy discussion of this important national issue, we identify and evaluate the major sources of data, suggest a new way to define IT workers, and give a detailed description of the extensive system that exists for training and educating IT workers. Other issues covered include the political context, types of demand, international considerations, and limitations on action by academia, government, and industry. Questions about women, underrepresented minorities, and older workers are raised, but they need substantially greater attention than this study could provide. We also discuss the "seed-corn" issue3/4whether the flight of faculty and graduate students to industrial jobs is harming the nation's ability to train the next generation of IT workers. In writing the report, we placed our principal emphasis on the analysis of underlying issues. However, a series of recommendations are also provided. These are targeted to five groups: government, higher education, industry, professional societies, and individuals. They cover the following topics: data collection practices, industry-academic cooperation, industry hiring and training practices, certification of educational and training programs, broadening the supply pipeline, improving the research and teaching environment to retain and recruit faculty, and curriculum development.

The Computing Research Association, in collaboration with five other major computing professional societies and with the assistance of a study group of experts, coordinated the report. It was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

We hope you will find the report of interest. Requests for additional copies may be e-mailed to


Peter Freeman
Dean and Professor
College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology
William Aspray
Executive Director
Computing Research Association


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Document last modified on Wednesday, 04-Apr-2012 06:51:20 PDT.