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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s
for computing professional jobs is expected to be the smallest for research positions and the greatest for deployment positions. The willingness of employers in industry to train (and retrain) people expands the available talent pool, especially for development and deployment positions. The willingness of citizens of other countries to immigrate (or to work locally for U.S.-owned employers) also expands supply.
Supply is of concern principally as it relates to demand—Are there or will there be enough computing professionals to meet the needs of employers?—and it can be considered from the perspective of current conditions or of anticipated future conditions, which may not be equivalent.
Workshop participants seemed to agree that, given the current economic and public policy context, the total supply of computing professionals today is adequate, although in some specific areas (e.g., systems research, systems integration, certain kinds of software development), especially in those with requirements for very specialized applications knowledge or experience, it is not. Representatives from industry differed in their outlook on supply, depending in part on the amount and kinds of hiring they contemplated. One factor that may contribute to an increase in the available talent pool is the slowdown in defense spending, which is expected to free up computing professionals as well as other scientific and technical personnel. Paul Stevens, manager of Corporate Software Initiatives at Hughes Aircraft Company, noted that this effect on human resources may be disproportionate, since commercial projects tend to use fewer people than comparably sized defense projects.
Workshop participants seemed to agree that supply may not be adequate as we approach the 21st century, for two reasons. First, as discussed in Chapter 3, skill (and education) requirements appear to be increasing. Leslie Vadasz emphasized this trend as a source of concern and a motivator for action: ''[E]mployees of the future will need more . . . baseline education, . . . higher than it was 10 . . . or 20 . . . or 30 years ago . . . ."
Second, too few people appear to be pursuing education and training relevant to work as a computing professional. Betty Vetter underscored the difficulties posed by changing current and future prospects: "One of the worst problems of . . . supply and demand is [seen] in the situation we are in now, . . . where current supply exceeds demand and most of us expect future . . . demand to exceed supply." Vetter also noted that even today, computing professionals are relatively well paid, a sign that they are valued.