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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s
based in industry and government. Nonetheless, a number of notable findings emerged. This report summarizes the discussions at that workshop and the further deliberations of the steering committee that organized it.
The jobs, skills, and numbers of people associated with computing professionals are poorly understood. The reasons are many. First, the individuals who work in occupations associated with computing and who are variously aggregated as "computing professionals" are probably too heterogeneous to be meaningfully considered as belonging to one group. Asked Leslie L. Vadasz, senior vice president at Intel Corporation and chair of the workshop steering committee,
Who is a computer specialist? Is it the scientist doing research in compiler technology or the engineer who is developing a game for a personal computer, or is it the MIS [management information systems] staff that manages our corporate information resources? They all are part of the profession, and there are many, many more who are also really part of this profession.
It is difficult to make useful generalizations, let alone forecasts, about such a diverse group. Nevertheless, attempts to do so are made regularly by people in government and industry; consequently, this report takes the aggregate of computing professionals as a point of departure.
Second, computing and communications systems technologies, applications, and markets are evolving quickly, resulting in a more rapid evolution in skill requirements, job design, and career paths than is the case for most other technical fields, such as physics, chemistry, and mathematics. One crude indicator of computing's rapid growth is the relative impermanence of job titles. For example, advances in software development have led to the emergence of jobs for highly skilled "software engineers"—people who design, develop, and maintain or modify complex software systems—and, simultaneously, to reduced opportunities for less-skilled programmers; now, some production of software code is even automated (that is, generated largely by computer systems).
Rapid changes in skill requirements are being compounded by changes in industrial employers, especially producers of computing and communications systems, who are a significant source of employment for computing professionals. These firms and industries have grown dramatically over the past 2 decades, and they have become increasingly international. At the same time, they have shifted from a primary emphasis on hardware to new emphases on software, networks, and systems. New technologies are fueling an overhaul of