Keeping Pace with the Job Demand for Programmers and IT Professionals

Keeping Pace with the Job Demand for Programmers and IT Professionals

There are two major complaints about the status of employment in the United States – unemployment is too high and too many jobs are being outsourced overseas. These are major concerns that hit close to home for many of us – almost everyone knows someone that has recently been unemployed for a long stretch against their desire. But how does this relate to a company that provides 10 to 15 year olds a fun introduction to computer programming?

Econ 101

If you take a step back and imagine these problems don’t personally effect us or someone we love, we see the job market is governed by the basic principle of supply and demand you learned back in Econ 101. Employers look for the cheapest labor that fits their needs – if they can’t find willing workers at a good price in the United States, they will look elsewhere. Let’s take a look at the supply and demand for programmers and other technical computer skills for the next decade.


The first thing to look at is the demand – how many jobs are being created for computer scientists? Computers now play a large role in every industry. Take shoes for example – one of the largest shoe retailers in the world is Zappos, an online only store. Large brick and mortar stores have also been quickly building online presences as a way to drive more business.

This is just one example. If an industry as unrelated to computers as shoes has been so quick to adapt technology, you better believe that almost every industry has the need for people with computer expertise.

There have been numerous studies that forecast job growth in individual sectors. The consensus is that computer programming and information technology (IT) jobs are growing quickly. Below is an infographic that shows the predicted job growth by sector for the next decade. Almost all the bubbles on the right are related to computers (click on the image to see the interactive version).


Now let’s examine the supply – how are all these jobs going to be filled? You may not believe it with 14 million unemployed people today in the United States, but there simply aren’t enough qualified people to fill these positions. They don’t have the right education or experience required. Unfortunately it is too late for most of those 14 million individuals to go back to school and relaunch a new career focused on computers.

But what about the students currently in school? Are they going to satiate the demand for programmers and IT professionals? Not anytime soon. Here is a chart that shows the job demand compared to graduates for the next five years.

As you can see, the education system isn’t producing enough graduates with the qualifications to fill these jobs. These jobs have to go somewhere, even if it means outsourcing them overseas.

Closing Thoughts

The ability of the education system to correct this imbalance will largely determine how many of these jobs are outsourced overseas in the next decade. I don’t feel confident that the entire education system can make the necessary changes, but that does not mean it is too late for the students you know. Make sure they receive a fun introduction to computer science with a focus on creativity as soon as possible.

Posted by Brian Skinner / Posted on 09 Jun
  • career, college, college admission, internships, jobs, school, Stanford, startups
  • Post Comments 2

     Jonathan Hofius
    • Jun 9 2011
    I could not agree with this article more. Recently I attended a career fair at Stanford University focused on entrepreneurship where hundreds of Silicon Valley startups were recruiting talent to help launch their new businesses. As a Mechanical Engineer I figured there would be plenty of openings for me, as I know many businesses form their ventures around physical products. However, I was surprised to see that over 90% of the openings were for Computer Scientists. An overwhelming number of these new ventures were focused on using the internet as the core of their product or service, like in the example of social networks, online shopping companies, etc. However, even the companies whose business revolve around physical products were often not looking for Mechanical Engineers or Product Designers but Computer Scientists to help them use the internet to attract internet sales, expand their customer base, etc, just like your Zappos example. That career fair really made it obvious that Computer Scientists are in very high demand right now, and there is no reason that will change in the future.
      • Jun 14 2011
      Thanks Jon for sharing your experience at the career fair - I definitely noticed the same thing. It sure would be disheartening to be a classics major and regretting that decision long after it is too late.

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