Daniel Lemire's blog

, 1 min read

No shortage of Information Technology Workers

At my school, the dean of the Science Faculty claims that we should see a surge of enrollment in Computer Science given the current shortages in Information Technology workers. I have my idea on who is feeding him this information, but I believe it is nonsense.

First, I do not believe there is a shortage right now in Information Technology at large. I have seen numbers quoted left and right, but my friends who work in industry still work long hours and their pay is not increasing substantially. In fact, I believe that there never was a shortage except in some specific areas like Silicon Valley or Boston. Elsewhere, the shortages were mostly hype. Second, even if there was a shortage in Information Technology workers, it may not translate in more Computer Science students. If we ever ran out of factory workers, we may not get more engineering students as a result. Beside, many of the higher level positions are management positions that can be adequately filled by people who studied Information Systems in some Business School. Third, Information Technology workers are very good at making themselves obsolete, and so, even if there was a shortage right now, it may not last. With Google Mail as good as it is, I do not believe we will need local email servers much longer. There will always be a need for local applications to answer specific business needs, but these can be most often built with MySQL and some PHP glue. Knowing the difference between P and NP is hardly required. There are technically sophisticated problems out there. For example, few people know how to handle very high volumes of data or to build applications that will become widely adopted. People able to solve these problems will always be able to get get good jobs. But these needs for highly qualified people do not constitute shortages.