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Building a Workforce for the Information Economy
through follow-up questions or a clearer definition of “IT-related position”—is not specified. The ordering of the question on workforce size in the questionnaire is also unspecified but may have had an appreciable impact on the final estimate; a respondent who has already undergone a battery of questions related to the NWCET skill set may be able to provide a more accurate estimate (and have a clearer idea of what “IT-related position” means) than a respondent asked a vague question at the start of the questionnaire. Thus, the question used by ITAA to develop its IT workforce estimate of 10 million may have been overly broad. The committee also notes that several other aspects of the 2000 ITAA survey, such as the representativeness of the sampling frame, how the final sample was constructed, and the response rate, raise concerns about the reliability of its estimate.
Because they are based on different data sets and count different populations, it is impossible to reconcile the varying estimates of the size of the IT workforce produced by various analysts drawing on U.S. government or private data sources. Nevertheless, it is the judgment of the committee that the size of the Category 1 workforce is very likely now, or soon will be, in the range of 2.5 million or more. It is also the judgment of the committee that the size of the Category 2 workforce is at least equal to that of the Category 1 workforce, and may well be larger. Thus, the size of the overall IT workforce is at least 5.0 million, with approximately 2.5 million Category 1 workers and a number of Category 2 workers that is at least as large. To its credit, the most recent ITAA survey explicitly includes a wide variety of Category 2 workers who are not captured systematically in any government data. The committee urges federal data collection efforts to obtain estimates based on similar occupational categories so that policymakers may have up-to-date data based on large-scale government surveys on which to base policy decisions.