C
The Demand For Human Resources and Skills in the 1990s

E.G. Nichols

IBM Corporation

How many computing professionals are needed and what specialties within the profession are most in demand? The outlook has been, and continues to be, that there will be a strong and increasing demand for computing professionals. Recent changes such as the recession, business consolidations, and peace may temper the demand, but overall the demand is still strong.

Many factors influence demand. The evolution of global markets, the rapid changes in technology, computer technology moving into the home and entertainment markets, and shifts in the type of work performed by computing professionals are all influencing demand.

In the 1990s success in this field will depend on highly skilled computing professionals properly equipped with productivity-enhancing electronic tools. It is time to consider a formal approach to skills planning as a means for companies, and perhaps countries, to project their needs for skills and to maintain their competitiveness.

NOTE: A paper prepared for a computer science and technology workshop sponsored by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of the National Research Council, and held at the National Academy of Sciences Beckman Center, Irvine, California, October 28–29, 1991.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s C The Demand For Human Resources and Skills in the 1990s E.G. Nichols IBM Corporation How many computing professionals are needed and what specialties within the profession are most in demand? The outlook has been, and continues to be, that there will be a strong and increasing demand for computing professionals. Recent changes such as the recession, business consolidations, and peace may temper the demand, but overall the demand is still strong. Many factors influence demand. The evolution of global markets, the rapid changes in technology, computer technology moving into the home and entertainment markets, and shifts in the type of work performed by computing professionals are all influencing demand. In the 1990s success in this field will depend on highly skilled computing professionals properly equipped with productivity-enhancing electronic tools. It is time to consider a formal approach to skills planning as a means for companies, and perhaps countries, to project their needs for skills and to maintain their competitiveness. NOTE: A paper prepared for a computer science and technology workshop sponsored by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of the National Research Council, and held at the National Academy of Sciences Beckman Center, Irvine, California, October 28–29, 1991.

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s THE ENVIRONMENT: GENERAL BUSINESS TRENDS Experts predict significant changes in the work force by the year 2000. Already there is evidence that these predictions are correct and that such changes may occur well before the year 2000. Experts expect to see many international alliances. Already the political changes that will make this possible are occurring: the opening of Eastern European and the former USSR. The 1992 changes in Europe encourage alliances among European companies, and many predict even more open trading among nations in the Americas as well. The rate at which countries, previously closed to U.S. companies, are embracing free trade is staggering. In the wake of this rapid political change, international alliances offer solutions that one company cannot undertake alone. For example, companies in Japan and Germany are discussing alliances as a means to improve the communications systems for what was formerly known as East Germany. As the world moves from the industrial age to the information age, information—and the tools for quickly analyzing and distributing that information—will be readily available at the workstation or desktop. Workers, with a large amount of information readily available, will broaden the scope of their work and acquire more skills; they will be multiskilled workers. The computer science and technology professions will provide the products and services to make this possible, and there will be a tremendous demand for those who can integrate powerful tools into the workplace. The marketplace for the 1990s is a global, not a national, marketplace. Many of today's products have parts or components that are manufactured in one country, assembled or integrated in another country, and perhaps sold worldwide under a variety of logos or brand names. In the future, more and more products will be developed in this manner. The work force must be highly educated; the work force must be competent in mathematics and communications (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) and must be motivated and capable of continuous learning. In addition, the work force needs to be computer literate. Although computers will continue to be easier to use, they will also be integrated into more and more products and services. And as computer technology improves, we will need more computer professionals to research, develop, and apply the technology to a wider and wider range of uses. As the demand for products and services becomes a worldwide

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s demand and as new and improved products and services use computer technology increasingly, the demand for computer professionals will become a global demand: workers will migrate to jobs, and work will be moved to the people with the necessary skills. U.S. companies must be aware that they will be competing with other countries, not only other companies, as they seek to hire people with key skills in computer science. The number of foreign students in the graduate degree programs in U.S. universities is large and is increasing. Because of increasing global demand, these foreign students will have more employment options than they have had in the past, including returning to their home countries and emigrating to a third country to take advantage of the best opportunities. Several developing countries are nurturing the development of computer technology and software. The combination of a strong educational system, government support, and a cheaper labor force is helping these efforts in India and China. This trend is significant in two ways: (1) U.S. firms may move their work (demand) to the available, skilled work force, and (2) a larger number of Chinese and Indian graduate students may find a larger number of options for challenging work in their home countries and return there rather than work in the United States. ACADEMIA Recent assessments of U.S. graduate degree programs in computer science have examined the faculty with respect to its strength, anticipated hiring, and other variables. The fields of computer science and computer engineering are new compared to other fields, and the faculty is younger. Thus, for the next 5 years the computer science and engineering departments will have fewer faculty openings resulting from retirement of current staff than other fields will experience. The college-age population has shrunk; fewer students are entering college, and of those entering fewer are choosing the computer fields. Recently there has been only a little growth in the number of faculty in computer fields, and this growth is expected to be 5 percent from 1991 through 1996. However, unfilled demand for computer science and engineering faculty still exists. This demand is expected to shrink somewhat and will be filled more selectively, but fewer new information systems doctorates will find positions in academia. Therefore, as long as other factors remain stable, no shortage in faculty is anticipated through the mid-1990s.

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Past In the early 1980s most of the computing complex was centralized logically and physically. Sites were connected, but usually in a hierarchy of smaller, remote sites individually attached electronically to a central computer room. In this environment the hardware, systems software, and application software were managed and controlled by a single information systems group. Although more than one vendor provided the various hardware and software products, the number of unique vendors that each installation dealt with was generally small. The attached networks were populated with ''dumb" terminals whose applications resided on the host systems. During this time the large backlog of applications requested but not yet delivered drove computer-literate professionals in science and engineering departments to acquire their own hardware and software solutions. If an information technology department could not deliver the needed applications quickly, it was often bypassed completely. The combination of a growing backlog of requested applications and the availability of minicomputers fueled the growth of this trend toward department systems. Next, personal computers became popular because of the relatively small investment needed to get started and because of the personal productivity tools they provided. But as individuals increased their productivity, they expanded their scope and sought additional functions—many of which (such as information kept on centralized databases) were available on the host system. New software and new applications had to be written for this new environment. Many more vendors entered the field in the 1980s, especially vendors with customized offerings. The cost of entry was small for both hardware and software companies. For the hardware companies, with some exceptions, the parts were relatively easy to acquire. Many small software firms emerged with products aimed at particular business applications or environments. Present Now information technology groups have to cope with rapidly increasing complexity. First, they don't necessarily control the computing power of their companies because individuals and departments have bought a wide variety of personal computers and software that are distributed, not centralized. The communications links

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s have grown rapidly with increased complexity, speed, number of connections, and number of different protocols. A large number of different vendors provide products and services in the 1990s environment, and the combinations are huge. This significantly increases the skills required to install, operate, and maintain these computing complexes. The press has been full of news of mergers among tire companies, appliance companies, banks, and airlines. These mergers will affect their information technology organizations, reducing overall investments as consolidations occur and increasing complexity as diverse systems are integrated. Future By the mid-1990s, the leading-edge applications will run on very high speed integrated LANs and with powerful workstations and will have access to a large amount of data kept in data repositories. The interfaces will be standardized, but the underlying structure will continue to contain a variety of systems and communications links, and a proliferation of software and hardware products. Some of the applications and infrastructure from the 1980s and early 1990s will still exist and will need to be supported. There will be significant demand for new applications on the powerful workstations. Completely new approaches to application development (object-oriented programming and reuse) will involve tools to help information technology groups manage this very high degree of complexity. Outlook for Information Technology Investment The outlook for information technology spending through the mid-1990s is that actual dollars spent will increase, but the rate of spending will decline. In the past, spending on information technology has increased during recessions; however, in 1991 information technology has not been immune to the effects of recession. In comparing information technology spending in 1991 to the projected 1992 budgets, Computer Economics found that 22 percent of the companies surveyed expect a decline, 2 percent expect to stay the same, and the remaining 76 percent expect to grow. Also, the larger the company, the more likely it is to increase its information technology spending. Several information technology organizations report that the growth they are seeing is being driven by support for expanding international operations. Spending on mainframes is declining. Of those with large glass-

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s house installations, today more are buying used mainframes or staying a generation behind to avoid the large investment needed to upgrade technology. The decline in spending on mainframes from 1990 to 1992 is expected to be 4 percent. The rest of the industry is expected to grow: small growth (4 percent) is expected for mid-range computers, moderate growth is expected for supercomputers (14 percent) and for personal computers (16 percent), and excellent growth is expected for workstations (66 percent). Shifts in spending can be explained by shifts in the types of systems used for new applications. The development and implementation of new applications have shifted to the lower-cost workstations and personal computers, thus accounting for the slowing rates of spending. Further, a key measurement shows decline. Information technology spending as a percentage of a company's revenue is declining from 2.6 to 2.5 percent: the rate is declining for large and mid-sized companies and staying level for small companies. Growth Areas The several areas in which information technology will invest heavily over the next few years are the areas that cause the most problems today: systems integration and systems management. Spending related to systems integration is expected to grow by 22 percent per year, tripling between 1990 and 1995. The systems integration applications are being implemented differently as well. More and more large projects are subdivided into smaller steps. The smaller projects are delivered in a shorter time, and thus the cost is less. Real experience with the results of the smaller steps influences the next step of development, and thus the user's satisfaction with the total project is higher. Systems integration will definitely be a source of new jobs in information technology in the mid-1990s. The other area of significant growth is systems management. This area is expected to grow by 17 percent between 1990 and 1995. The heterogeneous, distributed computing environment for the mid-1990s has many hidden difficulties. The workstations and personal computers distributed on LANs still need support. One estimate is that one person is needed to install, upgrade, move equipment, and resolve problems for each 25 workstations or personal computers on a LAN. Very often an undertrained individual in the end-user department is designated to do the work; in this case it is likely that the resource is never counted in the information technology totals. In addition, undertrained personnel make mistakes that often create large problems for information technology personnel to resolve. Many

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s information technology organizations feel that distributed systems are a key part of their responsibility and maintain the control and support of these assets: these types of organizations will see growth in LAN support personnel as their distributed systems grow. Other groups that are frustrated by the complexity of the environment, or did not have the skilled personnel to assume control of the distributed systems that emerged, are looking to service companies to take over the management of this complex environment. When this is the case only the dollars will be visible in the information technology budget, but the human resource will reside in the new service company. Salaries, the best indicator of whether computing professionals will be increased, are expected to increase only to keep pace with inflation from 1991 to 1992. However, as organizations outsource the operation of their central complex or even the management of their networks, additional resources will be added to the industry, but in the service companies. Summary—Human Resources in Information Technology With continuing growth but a slowing rate of growth in spending, and with a shift in the application environment from the mainframe computer to the workstation, what will be the impact on the prospects for computing professionals? The need for such professionals will also grow, but not as rapidly as in the past. New jobs will be added in the information technology organizations of new or small but growing companies. Large companies will add new jobs for systems integration and systems management. Also, new jobs will exist in service companies that offer to help existing information technology organizations to manage the dramatically more complex infrastructure. Computing professionals will be expected to be more productive in the 1990s and will have more personal productivity tools such as workstations to help them. Operations will be increasingly automated, but the automation will be needed to keep abreast of the increasing complexity. New skills will be needed to handle the integration of heterogeneous systems and to manage large, complex communications systems. Application knowledge will be needed to tailor and customize applications to increasingly sophisticated users of computing. There will be a demand for increased numbers of computing professionals, but increased skills among the practitioners will be especially in demand.

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Past Computer hardware development has undergone considerable change in the last decade. As the hardware community developed new technologies such as large-scale integrated circuits, multiprocessors, microprocessors, and architectures, it did significant hiring. Hardware developers not only developed new technologies, but also developed the modeling, simulation, and design tools needed in these development efforts. The resulting trends in price-performance ratios were dramatic. Between 1980 and 1985 the cost per million instructions per second (MIPS) fell from $250,000 to $25,000. The rate of improvement continued for the next 5 years, so that the cost per MIPS in 1990 was less than $2,500. Present The United States is seen as holding a leadership position in microprocessors, operating systems, user interfaces, databases, applications software, and magnetic information storage. It is regarded as competitive in networks and communication, hardware integration, logic chips, submicro technology, and portable telecommunications. The United States is behind in memory chips, optoelectronic components, optical information storage, electronic packaging and interconnections, displays, and hardcopy technology. The shifts away from mainframe computers to workstations described above for information technology are true for research and development as well. The focus in the research and development communities has shifted from hardware to software and services. Many computer companies acknowledge this change and also indicate that they experience more shortages of people with software skills. One company reports that it takes twice as long to find a qualified software professional as it does to hire a hardware engineer. Another company notes that the rate of attrition for computer professionals in the first 5 years of employment has risen dramatically in recent years, showing that recent graduates with a small amount of industrial experience are in demand. U.S. companies account for 57 percent of the worldwide software industry today, followed by Europe with 21 percent (France with 8

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s percent, Germany with 7 percent, and Britain with 6 percent), Japan with 13 percent, Canada with 3 percent, and other countries in Asia and Europe accounting for the remaining 6 percent. Future New Technologies The future will see new technologies and the integration of existing technologies. Growth is expected for supercomputers, parallel architectures, multimedia, data storage and recall, natural language interfaces, pen-based operating systems, hand-held digital computers, digital video telecomputers, and speech and image recognition. Some of these new technologies will be integrated into cars, home appliances, and home entertainment systems. Solutions to Current Problems Much development work will be focused on reducing complexity, especially in developing already integrated solutions and in simplifying the systems management of large heterogeneous systems and networks. Applications In the computer industry now and through the mid-1990s, demand will focus on effectively using the computing power available on powerful workstations. In demand will be integrated solutions that specifically address unique needs: customized integration of a variety of products and applications tailored to specific industry needs. Because there is significant computing power available, there will be significant pressure to develop these customized solutions much more quickly than in the past. Applications developers will be in demand in the computer industry. Computing professionals will need to understand the needs of end users by industry, by common types of work that cut across industries, and individually. Client-server applications and programmers skilled in developing these applications are in short supply, and products are needed to distribute and update software on multiple workstations. In addition, the continuing large backlog of needed applications will fuel the demand for productivity improvements in systems and application development.

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s End-User Productivity Any technology, hardware or software, that improves the productivity of end users or relates to the human interface will be important. Examples of such technologies include animation, full-motion video, graphics, image technology, pen technology and handwriting recognition, and audio technology and speech recognition. Also, technology related to the productivity of end users will be important, for example, artificial intelligence, expert systems, natural language, and standardized interfaces. Software Development Productivity There is now widespread understanding that high quality leads to short cycle time and higher productivity. To address quality, computing professionals need (1) an understanding of the development process and its effect on quality, (2) integrated tools to make the development process efficient, (3) knowledge of the design practices that lead to high quality, and (4) the ability to engineer and institutionalize quality into software development. Very little is taught in the universities about the development process needed to engineer quality into large, complex software projects. Most of this knowledge is acquired on the job or through training programs in industry. Very often tools are separate, not integrated. By the mid-1990s there will be more life-cycle tools, architectures, and platforms that will enhance software developer productivity. Other new technologies are expected to improve productivity as well, including object-oriented programming and program reuse. An important ingredient for achieving higher quality is design expertise. This skill is generally taught in software engineering curriculums found in advanced-degree programs. Currently many colleges and universities teach software engineering courses, but only 15 universities offer a master's degree in software engineering; none offers a B.S. Finding qualified software engineers is becoming more difficult. DEMAND IN THE UNITED STATES Will there be a shortage of engineers or scientists in the computing professions in the 1990s? During the 1980s the computer industry in the United States increased its employment by 68 percent, from 728,000 to 1.2 million. Although most companies were able to hire people with the skills they needed, they sometimes had problems

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s finding particular skills. The Labor Department estimates that the demand for software professionals will double between 1991 and the year 2000. Looking beneath these numbers reveals significant shifts. In the research and development segment the shift emphasizes professionals skilled in software rather than hardware. The older established companies are growing at a slower rate than some of the new or emerging companies. The newer companies are more focused on software and services. The hiring practices of large and small companies vary. Some small companies report that they cannot afford the expense of college recruiting. The smaller companies either target their hiring to a small number of universities or hire experienced personnel. The larger companies generally recruit on many campuses. They find fewer graduates interested in or trained on the more stable technologies that the established companies need to maintain. When recruiting for open systems skills such as UNIX-based development, they find qualified candidates. A survey conducted by Siegel and co-workers, of the Software Engineering Institute and School of Urban and Public Affairs, Carnegie Mellon University, found that defense industry executives and government officials felt skills shortages had been important factors contributing to the failure of military system development contracts to meet schedule or costs. Skills shortages were second only to inadequate requirements, specifications, and changes in requirements. Cited were shortages of systems engineers, software managers, qualified project managers, software engineers, and (of lesser impact) application domain experts. The SEI report further describes current shortages in application domain and software engineering expertise and the growing demand for resources to maintain the current systems. GLOBAL COMPETITION AND DEVELOPMENT PRODUCTIVITY Currently Japan has a shortage of 500,000 programmers and systems engineers that is expected to grow to 1 million by the year 2000. Japanese companies are establishing operations in other countries (the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and the Philippines) to fill their demand. There are 200,000 highly skilled programmers in China, with local demand for only 10,000. Some of India's leading software professionals have given up jobs elsewhere and returned to India, where 360 firms say they do some software development and another 250 firms define themselves as data pro-

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s cessors. U.S. companies are also outsourcing software development in India, Singapore, and Korea. In addition, the Japanese government is funding research to improve programmer productivity. To combat shortages of skilled programmers in Europe, 14 companies and institutes from five countries are working together to automate computer programming on a project named the Eureka Software Factory. SUMMARY The computer science and technology field will continue to grow for the next 5 years. For information technology, jobs will be added in systems integration and systems management; in research and development, new opportunities will be found in software and services, in the development of client-server applications, and in development efforts to simplify the information technology environment, to standardize and improve the human interface, and to improve development productivity. BIBLIOGRAPHY ''Can the U.S. Stay Ahead in Software?" Business Week, March 11, 1991. "Client Server Users See Tough Times Ahead." Network World, January 28, 1991. "Client/Server Software Lags." Computer Systems News, February 11, 1991. Corbi, Thomas A. "Findings: Software Process and Academia." IBM Research , Hawthorne, N.Y., April 1991. Eaton, Catherine. "Redressing the Balance." Systems International (UK), October 1988. Eerkes, Gary L. "Computer Science Master's Programs." Communications of the ACM, Vol. 34, No. 1, Jan. 1991. "Eureka May Be Europe's Ticket to Sovereignty." Business Week, March 11, 1991. "Feeling the Economic Pinch—IS Purchasing Plans Start to Account for Flat Spending." Information Week, October 7, 1991. Finn, Michael G. "Personnel Shortage in Your Future?" Research Technology Management, Jan.–Feb. 1991, pp. 24–27. Goldstein, Gina. "Joseph F. Coates: Engineering in the Year 2000." Mechanical Engineering, October 1990.' "Is Outsourcing the Answer?" Information Week, July 29, 1991. "Japan Stakes Future on Research Co-ops." Information Week, July 3, 1989. Jaruenpaa, Sirkka L., Blake Ives, and Gordon B. Davis. "Supply/Demand of I/S Doctorates in the 1990's." Communications of the ACM, Vol. 34, No. 1, Jan. 1991. Kandebo, Stanley W. "Engineer Shortfall Still Seen, Despite Industry Doldrums." Aviation Week and Space Technology, March 4, 1991. Lee, Dinah. "India's Becoming the New Asian Magnet for U.S. Business." Business Week, May 1, 1989. Lucky, Robert W. "Engineering Education and Industrial Research and Development—the Promise and the Reality." IEEE Communications Magazine , December 1990, pp. 16–22.

OCR for page 136
Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s Nolan, Richard L. "The Knowledge Work Mandate." Stage by Stage, Vol. 10, No. 2, March–April 1991. Oshima, Keichi, and Keichi Yamada. "Continuing Engineering Education in Japan." European Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 10, No. 3 & 4, 1985. Rappaport, Andrew S., and Smuel Halevi. "The Computerless Computer Company." Harvard Business Review, July–August 1991. Reich, Robert B. "Who Is Them?" Harvard Business Review, March–April 1991. Siegel, J.A.L. National Software Capacity Study. Software Engineering Institute and School of Urban and Public Affairs, Carnegie Mellon University, February 1991. Siegel, J.A.L., S. Stewman, S. Konda, P.D. Larleey, and W.G. Wagner. National Software Capacity: Near-Team Study. Software Engineering Institute and School of Urban and Public Affairs, Carnegie Mellon University, May 1990. Tapia, Robert. "In Search of the Ideal Operator." Computing Canada . June 23, 1988. Valigra, Lori. "Japan's Programmer Crunch." August 26, 1991. Workforce 2000, Competing in a Seller's Market: Is Corporate America Prepared? Hudson Institute, Towers Perrin, August 1990.