US software talent shortage looming?

Steve Hamm

So says Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, who repeated the warning during press interviews on a recent swing through the United States. He says restrictive immigration policies and failings in the US higher education system are at fault. My sense from talking to US tech companies and corporate IT masters is that he's right. In high skill areas, there are talent shortages. And it could get worse.

There's an irony here. Back in 2003, pundits warned that the global offshoring trend would suck millions of software and back office jobs out of the US. One effect of those warnings was that many of the best and brightest US students promptly decided to seek alternative career tracks to software. The number of computer science degree students dropped off precipitously.

US software employment declined sharply in 2001, in the wake of the dot-com bust, and was still depressed in 2003. But by late in that year it had begun a strong month over month climb that has continued until today. In fact, software employment is back up near peak levels.

So demand is fairly strong, and supply is weak. No sooner does one bogeyman go away when another one shows up.

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