National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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Building a Workforce for the Information Economy

Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Board on Testing and Assessment

Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy

Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation under Sponsor Award Number SRS-9908384 and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Contract Number NASW-99037-Task 103. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology.

Building a workforce for the information economy / Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Board on Testing and Assessment, Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, National Research Council.

p. cm.

Includes index.

ISBN 0-309-06993-9 (perfect binding)

1. Information technology--Vocational guidance. I. Title.

T58.5 .N379 2000

331.7'61004'0973--dc21

00-012827

Additional copies of this report are available from:

National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800/624-6242 202/334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu

Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

Institute of Medicine

National Research Council

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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COMMITTEE ON WORKFORCE NEEDS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

ALAN G. MERTEN,

George Mason University,

Chair

BURT BARNOW,

Johns Hopkins University,

Vice Chair

EILEEN APPELBAUM,

Economic Policy Institute

SARAH KUHN,

University of Massachusetts, Lowell

JOEL MOSES,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

PATRICIA MURRAY,

Intel Corporation

JAMES L. OUTTZ,

Outtz and Associates

ROY RADNER,

New York University

CECILIA E. ROUSE,

Princeton University

IRA RUBINSTEIN,

Microsoft Corporation

PETER SAFLUND,

Northwest Center for Emerging Technologies

JAN SCHULTZ,

IDX Corporation

JOSEPH SMIALOWSKI, *

Bank Boston

ERIC TOMLINSON,

The Scientific World Inc.

ERNST VOLGENAU,

SRA International Inc.

HELEN M. WOOD,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and IEEE Computer Society

Staff

HERBERT S. LIN (CSTB), Study Director

MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL (CSTB)

GAIL PRITCHARD (CSTB)

MARGARET MARSH (CSTB)

CHARLOTTE KUH (OSEP)

PETER HENDERSON (OSEP)

JIM VOYTUK (OSEP)

MARGARET L. HILTON (BOTA)

STEPHEN A. MERRILL (STEP)

PHILIP ASPDEN (STEP)

*

Resigned from the committee in November 1999.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD

DAVID D. CLARK,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Chair

DAVID BORTH,

Motorola Labs

JAMES CHIDDIX,

Time Warner Cable

JOHN M. CIOFFI,

Stanford University

ELAINE COHEN,

University of Utah

W. BRUCE CROFT,

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

SUSAN L. GRAHAM,

University of California, Berkeley

JUDITH HEMPEL,

University of California, San Francisco

JEFFREY M. JAFFE,

IBM Corporation

ANNA KARLIN,

University of Washington

MICHAEL KATZ,

University of California, Berkeley

BUTLER W. LAMPSON,

Microsoft Corporation

EDWARD D. LAZOWSKA,

University of Washington

DAVID LIDDLE,

U.S. Venture Partners

TOM M. MITCHELL,

WhizBang! Labs Inc.

DAVID A. PATTERSON,

University of California, Berkeley

HENRY (HANK) PERRITT,

Illinois Institute of Technology

CHARLES SIMONYI,

Microsoft Corporation

BURTON SMITH,

Cray Inc.

TERRY SMITH,

University of California, Santa Barbara

LEE SPROULL,

New York University

MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director

HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Scientist

JERRY R. SHEEHAN, Senior Program Officer

ALAN S. INOUYE, Senior Program Officer

JON EISENBERG, Senior Program Officer

GAIL PRITCHARD, Program Officer

LYNETTE MILLETT, Program Officer

JANET BRISCOE, Administrative Officer

DAVID DRAKE, Project Assistant

DANIEL LLATA, Senior Project Assistant

MARGARET MARSH, Senior Project Assistant

DAVID PADGHAM, Research Assistant

MICKELLE RODRIGUEZ, Senior Project Assistant

SUZANNE OSSA, Senior Project Assistant

BRANDYE WILLIAMS, Office Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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BOARD ON TESTING AND ASSESSMENT

ROBERT L. LINN,

University of Colorado, Boulder,

Chair

CARL F. KAESTLE,

Brown University,

Vice Chair

RICHARD C. ATKINSON,

University of California

CHRISTOPHER F. EDLEY, JR.,

Harvard University

RONALD FERGUSON,

Harvard University

MILTON D. HAKEL,

Bowling Green State University

ROBERT M. HAUSER,

University of Wisconsin, Madison

PAUL W. HOLLAND,

Educational Testing Service

RICHARD M. JAEGER,

University of North Carolina, Greensboro

DANIEL M. KORETZ, RAND,

Arlington, Virginia

RICHARD LIGHT,

Harvard University

LORRAINE McDONNELL,

University of California, Santa Barbara

BARBARA M. MEANS,

SRI International

ANDREW C. PORTER,

University of Wisconsin, Madison

LORRIE SHEPARD,

University of Colorado, Boulder

CATHERINE E. SNOW,

Harvard University

WILLIAM L. TAYLOR,

Attorney at Law, Washington, D.C.

WILLIAM T. TRENT,

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

GUADALUPE VALDES,

Stanford University

VICKI VANDAVEER,

The Vandaveer Group Inc.

LAURESS L. WISE,

Human Resources Research Organization

KENNETH I. WOLPIN,

University of Pennsylvania

MICHAEL J. FEUER, Director

MARGARET L. HILTON, Program Officer

LISA D. ALSTON, Administrative Associate

M. JANE PHILLIPS, Senior Project Assistant

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BOARD ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ECONOMIC POLICY

DALE JORGENSON,

Harvard University,

Chair

WILLIAM SPENCER,

The Washington Advisory Group,

Vice Chair

M. KATHY BEHRENS,

Robertson Stephens Investment Management

VINTON G. CERF,

MCI WorldCom

BRONWYN HALL,

University of California, Berkeley

JAMES HECKMAN,

University of Chicago

RALPH LANDAU,

Stanford University

RICHARD LEVIN,

Yale University

DAVID MORGANTHALER,

Morganthaler Ventures

MARK MYERS,

Xerox Corporation

ROGER NOLL,

Stanford University

EDWARD E. PENHOET,

University of California, Berkeley

WILLIAM RADUCHEL,

America Online

ALAN WM. WOLFF,

Dewey Ballantine

Ex Officio

BRUCE ALBERTS,

National Academy of Sciences

WILLIAM A. WULF,

National Academy of Engineering

KENNETH I. SHINE,

Institute of Medicine

GERALD DINNEEN,

National Research Council

STEPHEN A. MERRILL, Executive Director

PHILIP ASPDEN, Senior Program Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING PERSONNEL

M.R.C. GREENWOOD,

University of California, Santa Cruz,

Chair

JOHN D. WILEY,

University of Wisconsin, Madison,

Co-Chair

KENNETH J. ARROW,

Stanford University

RONALD G. EHRENBERG,

Cornell University

CARLOS GUTIERREZ,

California State University, Los Angeles

NANCY B. JACKSON,

Sandia National Laboratories

DONALD JOHNSON,

Grain Processing Corporation

MARTHA A. KREBS,

Institute for Defense Analyses

STEPHEN J. LUKASIK, Independent Consultant

CLAUDIA I. MITCHELL-KERNAN,

University of California, Los Angeles

MICHAEL T. NETTLES,

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

DEBRA W. STEWART,

North Carolina State University

TADATAKA YAMADA,

SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals

A. THOMAS YOUNG,

Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired)

Ex Officio

ROBERT C. RICHARDSON,

CHARLOTTE KUH, Executive Director

MARILYN J. BAKER, Associate Executive Director

JIM VOYTUK, Senior Program Officer

PETER HENDERSON, Senior Program Officer

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Preface

BACKGROUND

In the spring of 1998, Congress conducted hearings on the needs of U.S. industry for high-technology workers. A primary impetus for these hearings was the insistence of information technology industry representatives that companies were unable to recruit sufficient domestic workers and needed to hire additional non-U.S. citizens. Several recent studies supported the industry position. Most notably, a 1997 Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) study estimated a shortage of 340,000 workers in the field of information technology.1 In September of 1997 the Department of Commerce released a report concluding that there was a shortage of information technology workers. 2 This conclusion was based on projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the United States would require more than 1 million additional information technology workers between 1994 and 2005, compared to the small number of U.S. bachelor's degrees in computer and information sciences awarded annually (24,553 in 1994).

In response to the perceived shortage of high-technology workers, bills were introduced in both the House and Senate (H.R. 3736, S. 1723) to

1  

Information Technology Association of America. 1998. Help Wanted: 1998: A Call for Collaborative Action for the New Millennium. Arlington, Va.: ITAA.

2  

Department of Commerce. 1997. America's New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers. Washington, D.C., September.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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increase the number of H-1B visas from the FY1998 level of 65,000 per year. After considerable debate, the resulting legislation (Public Law 105-277) increased the limit on H-1B visas temporarily (to 115,000 in FY1999 and FY2000, 107,500 in FY2001, and reverting to 65,000 in FY2002).

Meanwhile, some experts asserted that the methodology of the ITAA survey was flawed and exaggerated the need for information technology workers. An analysis done by the General Accounting Office (GAO) in March 1998 found methodological weaknesses in the Department of Commerce report, emphasizing that the relevant supply of talent is not limited to computer science graduates.3 The GAO found that only 29 percent of information technology workers have degrees in computer science and that the majority of jobs in information technology are held by persons with degrees in math, science, social science, and business. More than 800,000 people graduate with math and science degrees (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.) per year.

When Congress passed Public Law 105-277, it included a section (Section 417) that called for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to enter into a contract with the National Academy of Sciences to report on older workers in the information technology field. Section 418 of that law called on the NSF to report on high-technology labor market needs. Both studies were to be delivered to Congress by October 1, 2000.

Because of the overlap between these subjects, the National Science Foundation asked the National Academy of Sciences, and specifically, the National Research Council (NRC), to conduct a study of needs for a high-technology workforce over the next 10 years, focusing on information technology (IT) and providing broad though less detailed contrast with biotechnology as the other key dimension of high technology with respect to workforce issues.4 In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, concerned about the future availability of technically skilled workers to support the nation's space objectives and industrial base, provided support for this study.

3  

U.S. General Accounting Office, Health, Education, and Human Services Division. 1998. Information Technology: Assessment of the Department of Commerce's Report on Workforce Demand and Supply, GAO/HEHS 98 106R. Washington, D.C., March 20.

4  

The contract between the National Science Foundation and the NRC called for the project to “profile the demographic changes in the U.S. workforce of the future and identify measures to insure access by the IT industry to the full pool of potential talent. [The project] also will consider the extent of future reliance on foreign talent resident in the U.S. and abroad and policies affecting access to that talent via foreign investment and immigration, among others . . . . Comparisons will be attempted to the biotechnology workforce, addressing similar dimensions but with less detail. One important area of contrast between IT and biotechnology will be the educational preparation of the immigrant workforce (post-doctoral emphasis in biotechnology, doctorate and below in IT).”

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Within the National Research Council, four units collaborated in conducting the project. The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) led the effort, joined by the Board on Testing and Assessment, the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, and the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel.

The study was structured to provide an integrated response to sections 417 and 418 (a) of PL 105-277 (see Box P.1); the former calls for an assessment of the status of older workers using the best available data, and the latter calls for an assessment of labor market needs for workers with high-technology skills over the next 10 years. The section 418 (a) (3) requirement for diverse inputs comports naturally with the NRC study process, which emphasizes a balanced study committee plus broad solicitation of inputs. In particular, the NRC sought to develop an integrated analytical perspective that would combine the perspectives of labor economists with those familiar with the issues at “ground level”—people performing or managing information technology work and people involved in the education and training of information technology workers.

By any standard, the story of IT and the economy is one of success. But against this background of success, concerns have emerged that the lack of an adequate, well-trained workforce may have negative effects on the U.S. economy. Furthermore, because the underlying information technologies change so rapidly, there is concern that the labor market does not work as efficiently in this arena as economic theory would predict—i.e., that rising wages will not relieve the tightness, at least not “in time.” Finally, there are concerns that the benefits of employment in information technology or high technology are not being shared equitably.

AUDIENCE AND TIMING

The Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology (Appendix C) is well aware that during the time that it was collecting information and deliberating, the political process moved forward. Indeed, the committee anticipated the legislation that was enacted in October 2000 at about the time its report was first made available. This timing raised questions about when to release the report.

The committee notes that its charge did not focus on the H-1B visa issue; rather, the controversy surrounding this issue provided one element of the context surrounding its work. Although the H-1B visa cap is one of the most hotly contested issues in immigration policy today, it is only one of the issues facing the IT and high-technology (IT/HT) workforce. This report is not—and never has been—a report only or even primarily about H-1B visas.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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BOX P.1 Legislative Charge to the National Research Council Statutory Language: Public Law 105-277

SEC. 417.

REPORT ON OLDER WORKERS IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FIELD.

  1. Study.—The Director of the National Science Foundation shall enter into a contract with the President of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study, using the best available data, assessing the status of older workers in the information technology field. The study shall consider the following:

  1. The existence and extent of age discrimination in the information technology workplace.

  2. The extent to which there is a difference, based on age, in—

  1. promotion and advancement;

  2. working hours;

  3. telecommuting;

  4. salary; and

  5. stock options, bonuses, and other benefits.

  1. The relationship between rates of advancement, promotion, and compensation to experience, skill level, education, and age.

  2. Differences in skill level on the basis of age.

  1. Report.—Not later than October 1, 2000, the Director of the National Science Foundation shall submit to the Committees on the Judiciary of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate a report containing the results of the study described in subsection (a).

SEC. 418.

STUDY AND REPORT ON HIGH TECHNOLOGY LABOR MARKET NEEDS.

  1. National Science Foundation Study and Report.—

  1. In general.—The Director of the National Science Foundation shall conduct a study to assess labor market needs for workers with high technology skills during the next 10 years. The study shall investigate and analyze the following:

  1. Future training and education needs of companies in the high technology and information technology sectors and future training and education needs of United States students to ensure that students' skills at various levels are matched to the needs in such sectors.

  2. An analysis of progress made by educators, employers, and government entities to improve the teaching and educational level of American students in the fields of math, science, computer science, and engineering since 1998.

  3. An analysis of the number of United States workers currently or projected to work overseas in professional, technical, and managerial capacities.

  4. The relative achievement rates of United States and foreign students in secondary schools in a variety of subjects, including math, science, computer science, English, and history.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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  1. The relative performance, by subject area, of United States and foreign students in postsecondary and graduate schools as compared to secondary schools.

  2. The needs of the high technology sector for foreign workers with specific skills and the potential benefits and costs to United States employers, workers, consumers, postsecondary educational institutions, and the United States economy, from the entry of skilled foreign professionals in the fields of science and engineering.

  3. The needs of the high technology sector to adapt products and services for export to particular local markets in foreign countries.

  4. An examination of the amount and trend of moving the production or performance of products and services now occurring in the United States abroad.

  1. Report.—Not later than October 1, 2000, the Director of the National Science Foundation shall submit to the Committees on the Judiciary of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate a report containing the results of the study described in paragraph (1).

  2. Involvement.—The study under paragraph (1) shall be conducted in a manner that ensures the participation of individuals representing a variety of points of view.

More importantly, the committee has tried in this report to provide a way of thinking about workforce issues in IT/HT that is largely independent of specific legislation. It seems safe to predict that the debate over the IT/HT workforce and immigration will not be definitively resolved by any one piece of legislation—such is the nature of controversial issues engaged by the political process. The committee thus tried to develop an intellectual framework and policy guidance for meeting the nation's needs for information technology workers over the next decade.

In the months since the report's initial release in October 2000, declines in stock valuation for IT and IT-enabled companies, together with well-publicized bankruptcies and layoffs, have affirmed the wisdom of the committee's longer-term horizon.

METHODOLOGY AND CAVEATS

A number of prior studies and analyses of workforce issues in IT constituted the committee's point of departure for its own work. In addition, the committee also heard from many stakeholders across a wide range of perspectives, commissioned a number of papers, sought and received white papers and other input electronically, and conducted sev-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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eral site visits to IT-sector firms. The report also draws insights from committee members most closely associated with IT.

One of the most troublesome aspects of the debate over workforce issues is the paucity of good data. Reliable, representative, timely “hard data” are by far the most preferred as the basis for reaching conclusions. But in practice, the available data are inadequate as a basis for drawing conclusions that are unambiguous.5

The committee did not limit itself to considering only those issues for which good-quality and timely data sets were available; to do so would have led to analytical paralysis. Rather, the committee used the best available data, and it relied on testimony and informed speculation when the data were unavailable or inadequate. Its findings, conclusions, and recommendations are based on a mix of data and committee judgment.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many people contributed to this complex study and comprehensive report. The committee took testimony from many individuals at its plenary sessions, including both scheduled briefers and IT workers who were promised anonymity. The committee is indebted to these people for sharing with it their ideas, concerns, time, and facilities. It also appreciates having received numerous formal and informal analyses and reports from a wide range of organizations and individuals with varying perspectives on the IT workforce. Subcommittees also held regional information-gathering sessions, and site visits were conducted in New York City; Austin, Texas; Bellevue, Washington; and Fairfax, Virginia. (Appendix D indicates the dates and locations of the plenary and regional meetings and lists the individuals who participated.)

For helping to organize the Austin events, the committee is indebted to Robert Glover, research scientist in the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the University of Texas at Austin; Mary Jo Sanna, project director of Computer Science 2000 at the Capital Area TechPrep Consortium; Craig Eissler, from the Capital Area Training Foundation; and David Brant, associate vice president for research at the University of Texas at Austin. The committee also acknowledges management

5  

For example, data are often insufficiently timely. Data that are 2 years old—recent by most federal standards—are unlikely to reflect accurately today's state of affairs in the rapidly changing IT sector. Definitions of data categories (e.g., the definitions for items such as “computer scientist” or “systems analyst”), which are necessarily relatively stable over time, do not necessarily reflect the IT job titles of today because new types of jobs emerge quickly in the IT sector. In particular, data categories are generally too coarse and do not reflect important distinctions between IT jobs.

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and staff at Trilogy Software, BMC Software, and Academic Software for agreeing to participate in focus group sessions with the Austin subcommittee and for speaking with the subcommittee on the challenges and opportunities of working in the high-tech industry.

In Seattle, the committee was assisted by Edward Lazowska, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington and a member of CSTB. (Kathleen) Kay Williams, manager of computing skills management information services for the Boeing Company, and Gary Jackson, co-director of the International Association of Machinists/Boeing Company Joint Quality Through Training Program, facilitated focus group sessions with high-technology managers and workers at their respective companies.

In Fairfax, the committee met at George Mason University and appreciates the assistance of J. Thomas Hennessy, Jr., chief of staff to the president, and Darcy Cors, assistant to the president. Supporting the committee's site visits and focus group meetings were Sue Austin and Kerri Morehart of SRA International Inc., Mike Mendler of SAIC, Sudhaker Shenoy of IMC, (Lorraine) Pat Sherod of Litton PRC, and Rosanne Cuttitta of Celera Genomics.

A number of individuals responded to the committee's call for white papers, including Denise Gurer (3Com Inc.), Joyce Malyn-Smith (Education Development Center Inc.), Eric Roberts (Stanford University), David Lee (Suffolk University), and B. Lindsay Lowell and Susan Martin (Georgetown University). In addition, the committee commissioned a number of papers on its own initiative and received papers from Hal Salzman, Hal Salzman and Radha Roy Biswas (University of Massachusetts-Lowell), Charles Starliper, Kevin Murphy and Zinta Byrne (Colorado State University), and Robert Lerman (American University).

The National Science Foundation provided the committee with important data on IT workers and other scientific and engineering personnel. While the committee appreciates NSF assistance in this matter, the use of NSF data does not imply NSF endorsement of the research methods or conclusions contained in this report. In addition, the committee gratefully acknowledges Mark Regets, senior analyst for NSF, for the administrative and data-related assistance he provided on numerous occasions.

The committee also appreciates the hundreds of suggestions and constructive criticisms provided by the reviewers of an early draft of this report. That input helped the committee to sharpen its message and strengthen its presentation.

Within the NRC, the lead unit on the project was the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. However, the committee received a high level of support from members and staff of the three other NRC

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units involved: the Board on Testing and Assessment, the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, and the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel.

NRC staff assisted and, at critical times, guided the committee in many ways. They provided essential insight into the NRC process and resources. They organized the regional site visits, arranged for briefings, and handled logistical matters for the committee with the utmost skill and patience. They provided research support to the committee, including a number of data analyses that were critical to the analytical content of the report. They facilitated numerous contacts with outside sources of expertise and content.

The issues addressed by the committee were wide-ranging. Any one issue or discussion could involve technical, political, social, ethical, educational, and human resource matters, among others. Similarly, the perspectives and biases of the committee were equally diverse, as were those of the intended audience. Herb Lin, senior scientist for CSTB and the study director for this project, turned discussions, individual ideas, and points of agreement and of initial disagreement into this important report. He crafted meeting agendas in such a way that the committee received the proper amount of diverse external input and had sufficient time to develop its conclusions and recommendations. This study could not have been carried out nor this report written without Herb. The committee is deeply indebted to him.

Finally, the assistance of Bill Spencer (Sematech), William Eddy (Carnegie Mellon University), Stephen J. Lukasik (SAIC), and John Kreick in the launch of this project is appreciated.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Tom Bailey, Columbia University,

Libby Bishop, WestEd,

Scott Bradner, Harvard University,

Henry Braun, Educational Testing Service,

Richard Fonte, Austin Community College,

John Glaser, Healthcare Systems,

James Heckman, University of Chicago,

Ken Kennedy, Rice University,

Henry Lichstein, Citibank,

Deborah Malamud, University of Michigan,

Ray Marshall, University of Texas, Austin,

Demetrios Papademetriou, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,

Robert Prince, Anderson Consulting,

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9830.
×

Wolfgang Sadee, University of California, San Francisco,

Paula Stephan, Georgia State University,

Robert Weatherall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Alan Wolff, Dewey Ballantine Law Office, and

Stephen Yale-Loehr, True, Walsh & Miller and Cornell University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Stephen J. Lukasik, appointed by the Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications, and Samuel H. Preston, appointed by the Report Review Committee, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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2.3  Intellectual and Knowledge Requirements,

 

54

   

2.3.1  Formal Education and Type of IT Work,

 

54

   

2.3.2  Core Knowledge and Abilities for IT Work,

 

55

   

2.3.3  The Role of Experience and Situated Learning and Knowledge,

 

56

   

2.4  Characterizing the IT Workforce,

 

60

   

2.4.1  Size of the IT Workforce,

 

60

   

2.4.2  Growth in the Category 1 IT Workforce,

 

61

   

2.4.3  Demographics of the Category 1 IT Workforce,

 

66

   

2.4.4  Compensation in the Category 1 IT Workforce,

 

68

   

2.4.5  Educational Background,

 

79

   

2.4.6  Distribution of Category 1 IT Workers by Size of Employer,

 

83

   

2.4.7  Unemployment of Category 1 IT Workers,

 

84

   

2.4.8  A Note About the Hardware Subsector Within Information Technology,

 

84

   

2.4.9  Characteristics of the Category 2 IT Workforce,

 

85

   

2.5  Recap,

 

90

   

3  Characterizing the Workforce Problem

 

92

   

3.1  Framing the Problem in Context,

 

92

   

3.2  Reports of Difficulty in Hiring,

 

92

   

3.3  The Inference of a Worker Shortage,

 

97

   

3.3.1  The Overall Labor Market,

 

99

   

3.3.2  The Size of the Applicant Pool,

 

99

   

3.3.3  Skills Shortages Versus Worker Shortages,

 

102

   

3.3.4  Compensation,

 

102

   

3.3.5  Time to Reach Equilibrium,

 

107

   

3.4  The Committee's View of the IT Labor Market,

 

109

   

3.5  Segmentation of Demand for IT Workers,

 

110

   

3.6  A Perspective on the Federal Government and Workforce Issues in IT,

 

113

   

3.6.1  Competition with the Private Sector,

 

113

   

3.6.2  Incentives,

 

114

   

3.6.3  Recruitment and Retention Issues,

 

116

   

3.6.4  Coping with Tightness,

 

116

   

3.6.5  Security,

 

117

   

3.6.6  Concerns Expressed by Government Contractors,

 

118

   

3.7  Projections for the Future,

 

119

   

3.7.1  The Relevant Time Horizons,

 

119

   

3.7.2  The Quantitative Outlook,

 

120

   

3.7.3  Skills for the Future,

 

122

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3.7.4  Project-based Employment,

 

123

   

3.7.5  Reducing Relative Needs for Personnel Through Tools and Techniques for Greater Productivity,

 

126

   

3.8  Recap,

 

131

 

 

Part II

 
   

4  Older IT Workers and Possible Age-Related Discrimination

 

135

   

4.1  Introduction,

 

135

   

4.2  Legal Dimensions of Age Discrimination,

 

136

   

4.2.1  The Definition of Age Discrimination,

 

136

   

4.2.2  Legal Theories for Showing Age Discrimination,

 

137

   

4.3  The Empirical Evidence on the Labor Market Experiences of Older and Younger IT Workers,

 

139

   

4.3.1  Data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,

 

139

   

4.3.2  Labor Market Survey Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

 

140

   

4.3.3  The AARP Audit Study,

 

146

   

4.4  Discussion,

 

148

   

4.5  Recap,

 

149

   

5  Foreign Workers in the IT Workforce

 

152

   

5.1  The Impact of Foreign Workers on the U.S. Economy and Workforce,

 

152

   

5.2  Foreign Workers in the United States,

 

156

   

5.2.1  Foreign Workers Overall,

 

156

   

5.2.2  Foreign Worker Programs,

 

157

   

5.2.3  Issues Regarding the Foreign Worker Programs,

 

170

   

5.3  Availability of Foreign IT Workers to U.S. Firms,

 

177

   

5.3.1  Competition for Foreign Workers,

 

178

   

5.3.2  Locating IT Work Abroad,

 

179

   

5.4  Interaction Between the Use of Foreign Workers and Locating Work Offshore,

 

185

   

5.5  Recap,

 

186

   

6  Making More Effective Use of the Existing IT Workforce

 

188

   

6.1  Attracting and Using IT Workers More Efficiently,

 

188

   

6.1.1  Increased Use of Overtime,

 

189

   

6.1.2  Improved Recruitment and Retention,

 

194

   

6.1.3  Making Clearer Distinctions Between Essential and Optional Attributes,

 

199

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6.2  Expanding the Pool of Immediately Available Workers,

 

201

   

6.2.1  The Role of Assessment,

 

201

   

6.2.2  Targeting Underrepresented Groups for IT Careers,

 

212

   

6.3  Recap,

 

216

   

7  Longer-Term Strategies for Increasing the Supply of Qualified Labor: Training and Education

 

220

   

7.1  The Role of Formal Education,

 

220

   

7.1.1  Secondary Education,

 

221

   

7.1.2  Higher Education—Baccalaureate,

 

228

   

7.1.3  Higher Education—Postbaccalaureate,

 

240

   

7.1.4  Higher Education—Community Colleges,

 

245

   

7.1.5  Industry Certification,

 

251

   

7.1.6  Distance Learning,

 

253

   

7.2  Training IT Workers,

 

254

   

7.2.1  The Need for Lifelong Learning,

 

254

   

7.2.2  Disincentives for Employer-provided Formal Training,

 

255

   

7.2.3  Other Factors Affecting Training,

 

257

   

7.2.4  Support and Infrastructure for Training,

 

258

   

7.2.5  Training Opportunities in the Economy and in High Technology,

 

260

   

7.2.6  Training Realities,

 

261

   

7.2.7  Historical Experiences in Training,

 

264

   

7.2.8  Approaches to Shared Training,

 

266

   

7.3  Integrating Work and Learning,

 

268

   

7.4  Recap,

 

270

 

 

Part III

 
   

8  Synthesis, Principles, and Recommendations

 

275

   

8.1  Synthesis and Findings,

 

275

   

8.1.1  On the Available Data,

 

278

   

8.1.2  On the Nature of Business in the IT Sector (Chapter 3),

 

279

   

8.1.3  On the Assessment of Talent (Chapter 6),

 

280

   

8.1.4  On Education and Training (Chapter 7),

 

280

   

8.1.5  On Age Discrimination (Chapter 4),

 

281

   

8.1.6  On the Use of Foreign Labor (Chapter 5),

 

282

   

8.1.7  On the Use of Temporary Foreign Nonimmigrant Labor (Chapter 5),

 

283

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For every complex problem, there is a solution that is neat, simple, and wrong.

—H.L. Mencken

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Building a Workforce for the Information Economy Get This Book
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A look at any newspaper's employment section suggests that competition for qualified workers in information technology (IT) is intense. Yet even experts disagree on not only the actual supply versus demand for IT workers but also on whether the nation should take any action on this economically important issue.

Building a Workforce for the Information Age offers an in-depth look at IT. workers-where they work and what they do-and the policy issues they inspire. It also illuminates numerous areas that have been questioned in political debates:

  • Where do people in IT jobs come from, and what kind of education and training matter most for them?
  • Are employers' and workers' experiences similar or different in various parts of the country?
  • How do citizens of other countries factor into the U.S. IT workforce?
  • What do we know about IT career paths, and what does that imply for IT workers as they age? And can we measure what matters?

The committee identifies characteristics that differentiate IT work from other categories of high-tech work, including an informative contrast with biotechnology. The book also looks at the capacity of the U.S. educational system and of employer training programs to produce qualified workers.

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