• Persons undertaking software-based enterprise resource planning or just-in-time inventory control and systems integration;

  • Persons who write software code for embedded systems such as hand-held, palm-top devices or equipment controllers;

  • Persons who develop design tools, simulation, and IT-intensive systems for the delivery of electronic content;

  • Persons who are responsible for testing, documentation, or configuration management; and

  • Persons who directly manage IT workers.

Box 2.1 lists some sample titles of IT workers. Excluded are persons who work primarily with “front office” or end-user applications that are necessary to job functions not included in the above definition. For example, most office workers use word processors and spreadsheets, but they would not be considered IT workers in this definition.1 Help-desk personnel and technicians who install the PCs, networks, and software applications would be included.

The committee has a number of reasons for choosing a definition based on what people do.

  • To the extent that IT is a pervasive enabling technology that requires expertise to implement or to apply to specific business problems, IT workers are necessarily found in all sectors of the economy, not just the industries responsible for creating and developing IT. Thus, a definition based solely on industry of employment is inappropriate.

1  

The reason for such an exclusion is that “users” of IT even heavy users—use IT for purposes that are secondary to their jobs. In other words, users of IT generally use IT in support of other job functions that are not related to IT per se. The business manager of an office may use spreadsheets in an extremely sophisticated manner, and the intellectual skills used may be those that characterize highly skilled programmers, but the primary purpose of his or her use of spreadsheets is to manage budgets in support of an office. By contrast, a Web page designer is included, even though his or her work relies in a similar way upon the use of Web authoring tools, because the primary purpose of the job is the management of IT-enabled electronic content. Also, workers such as the business manager described above are not generally the focus of concern that led to the commissioning of this report. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that distinguishing between the class of workers instantiated by business managers (excluded from the definition of “IT workers”) and the class instantiated by Web page designers (included in the definition of “IT worker”) is somewhat arbitrary.

An additional complication arises when dealing with IT hardware. A semiconductor firm manufactures chips and integrated circuits for others to integrate into finished IT hardware systems. But a semiconductor manufacturing plant requires chemical engineers and process control engineers and materials scientists to design and maintain the production line. Such individuals are as critical to the semiconductor industry as are the designers of integrated circuits and microprocessors, but they are not what one might usually imagine when considering the term “IT worker.” The committee had no access to data relevant to such ambiguities, and thus such individuals are omitted from the analysis.



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