I have been blessed to be a data integration professional for over 13 years now. I always wanted to be involved in computers, but took some turns off that path along the way. Luckily I now have had the privilege of being in the Information Management business for quite a long time.
I love my job! Data is not necessarily the foundation of business, but it sure is the building blocks. Without data, business ceases to happen. Even the most primitive business collects and relies on data, even if not in a computer system, as part of their daily operations.
So, it pains me to see that in the last 10 years the enrollment in Computer Science degree programs was trending down. In fact, the 2007 class of Computer Science graduates was only about 8,000 students, when the highest point of the decade, 2004, graduated over 14,000 students.
According to an article from Computerworld in 2007, "Interest in computer science soared during the late 1990s and in early 2000, but with the dot-com collapse and the increasing use of offshore outsourcing, it slumped." It is easy to understand how the dot-com collapse would discourage students from seeking computer professions. With the push to send more computer related jobs offshore students could be led to believe that there were not enough computer jobs to go around. These trends have led to the steady decrease in the amount of computer professionals there are available in the U.S.
However, the good news is that the trend seems to be turning. In the last two years enrollments in computer science have been increasing. One reason given for the increase is, "There are a lot of students who were looking at careers in economics or finance, but they realized that computer science is a safer path than Wall Street - they know there will be a job for them when they graduate," said Peter Harsha, director of government affairs for the Computing Research Association. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and mathematical science is one of the fastest-growing occupations, projecting the field will add 785,700 new jobs between 2008 and 2018.
According an article titled "Want a Job? Get a computer science degree", in Network World in February of this year (2010), "Leading universities report that enrollment in computer science and engineering courses is up significantly this year among students pursuing computer science majors as well as those studying other subjects, particularly science or business." The reason given by Professor Bruce Porter, Chair of the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, "I think the job market is what's driving the growth. The government has made it clear that computer science is a growth field, and I think that message is getting back to students and their parents." The University of Texas at Austin saw enrollment increase more than 5% this year.
Despite the poor economy and slow downs in many job sectors, computer-related graduates are still seeing job offers. "We really didn't see a drop in recruiting efforts," says Cynthia Coleman, associate director of external relations for the University of Illinois' Department of Computer Science. "We have seen a significant increase in companies in other industries that typically haven't recruited in computer science interested in our students. What a lot of our students are going to realize is that every industry has computer science needs."
I have always felt that IT was a great field to be in. With the realization that even in tough times businesses need computers to function, enrollments in computer-related degree programs are trending up. Many schools are experiencing these increases in enrollment, and it seems that the state of economy is one of the largest contributing factor. It seems that having a computer-related degree is a safe choice for a career, even in these tough times.