Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where have all the children gone?

You might enjoy a couple of pieces about computer science education and employment from the March 12th National Public Radio (NPR) news show All Things Considered. The first segment, Computer Science Course Enrollment Dips in U.S., describes the on-going problem of a lack of students in computer science. Ever since the dot com meltdown enrollment in computer science programs have drop dramatically, even as demand for the jobs has rebounded. You will often hear reference to high-demand areas of study, but the problem is that they are in demand by employers, not students. Perhaps the most troubling problem has been the participation of women (and, although not mentioned, non-Asian minority males) in these programs.

The second segment, Bill Gates Targets Visa Rules for Tech Workers, is an interview with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on his call for reform of immigration and increase of H1-B visas available for international students. Although the interview focuses only on the visa issue, his congressional testimony earlier that day dealt with US global competitiveness in technology. His testimony is available here (the first of four points deals with education which you will find starting on page 4 of the document).

Please keep in mind that not every IT/IS job requires a computer science degree, although reading through the jobs ads you might think so. Plenty of people, perhaps most, in corporate setting don't have computer science backgrounds, myself included. That's not to say that Microsoft doesn't need them, they do. It's just that every student in American shouldn't feel as if they need to take that more rigorous course of study to work in technology fields.

Take Bill Gates for instance. He got his degree in, oh that's right, he's a college drop-out. ;-)

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