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Building a Workforce for the Information Economy
in a consistent manner, and validated against indicators of job success). Many such methods have a solid empirical basis, a long and consistent record of validity, and cost-effectiveness, and also have been shown to expand the selection process to include larger numbers of persons from traditionally underrepresented groups such as women and minorities.
At the same time, the success of structured assessment depends largely on a formal job analysis that specifies the duties, responsibilities, and requirements of a job. But, because many aspects of IT work change as rapidly as the technologies change (i.e., very rapidly), it may be difficult to apply traditional methods of job analysis to many IT jobs, especially those in Category 1. Some structured assessment methods have the further advantage that an employer who uses them can protect itself against legal challenges that more often arise when applicants and employees are being evaluated against a set of employment standards less formal than those implied by structured assessment.
There is some controversy in the IT community regarding the amount of productivity gain that can be expected in the coming decade from tools and management approaches. Nevertheless, while individual productivity has been and can in the future be increased through the use of tools and/or the use of different organizational or managerial strategies, such tools and strategies are not likely to play a decisive role in reducing the current tightness in the IT labor market in the coming decade.
Education and training increase the supply of qualified workers by attracting and preparing new entrants to the IT workforce, enabling individuals already working in IT to acquire skills qualifying them for higher-skilled and better-paying jobs, and helping current highly skilled IT workers keep their skills up to date.
Current high school mathematics education in the United States is inadequate to meeting the challenge of increasing the supply of IT workers. By developing reasoning and problem-solving skills needed in IT work and by providing the prerequisites for entry into many 4-year IT programs, improving secondary mathematics education can increase the number of students who are interested in and prepared for IT work or postsecondary study in IT-related fields.
At the postsecondary level, the quality of formal education at 4-year colleges in IT-related fields is such that graduates in these fields are in great demand by IT employers. Exposure to formal computer science education provides an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of the subject, the skills to work successfully on large IT projects, and a greater ability to adapt to new technologies. Although the number of graduates