High salaries and plenty of jobs abound for recent computer science degree grads, according to a recent article on ComputerWorld.com. However, the picture may not be so rosy for veteran techies. In fact, some experienced IT workers are actually experiencing cutbacks. What is going on here?
First, the recent college grads: Emanuel Contomanolis, of the Rochester Institute of Technology, told ComputerWorld.com that jobs for computer science degree holders were prevalent in IT firms, thanks to recruiters scouring campuses. He also said that financial services firms are filling jobs for computer science degree holders, because they have realized that IT features "are going to be critical to how they differentiate themselves on the market."
Recent Computer Science Grad Salaries and More
As I mentioned in a previous article, a salary survey published in September by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) stated that computer science graduates have been offered an average salary of $53,051 in 2007, that’s up 4.5% from 2006. In fact, the salaries offered to 2007 computer science grads are the highest reported to NACE in the past seven years.
What is behind the increased salary offers? Recruiters have a smaller pool of computer science students. The Computing Research Association (CRA) says that the 170 institutions in North America that grant computer science degrees reported a total of 10,206 B.A degree graduates for 2006. That was down by nearly 33% from the level at 2000 when there were more than 14,000 graduates.
Surprisingly, the drop in college graduates in this field may not be over yet, at least that’s what Jay Vegso, a CRA staff member, seems to think. From looking at enrollment trend data, Vegso told computerworld.com that he expects the decline in computer science graduates to continue for another two years, or maybe stabilize at best. This will keep the job pool small and strong.
Experienced Computer Science Grad Salaries
For older workers, the outlook is not as good. According to ComputerWorld.com, Ross Perot’s old company Electronic Data Systems Corp. is “offering an early retirement program to about 12,000 of its 50,000 U.S. workers.”
There’s more pain over at Sun Microsystems Inc. The tech giant says it plans to fire 1,500 employees as part of a “workforce reduction program.” The Intel Corp. confirms that its IT staff is being cut by as much as 10%, more ouch!
Whether these are just the restructuring of a few companies that have missed the latest of Web 2.0, or a sign of a larger trend for mature IT companies, remains to be seen. For an example of the later, remember that both Apple and Silicon Graphics crashed badly during the late 90’s, which was otherwise a golden era for computer science grads.
Computer Science Graduates from Overseas
Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at RIT, told ComputerWorld.com that “mid-career workers better beware.” He added, “The same firms that are laying off thousands are clamoring that they need more foreign workers. One interpretation of this phenomenon is that companies have no interest in retraining or retaining incumbent workers to fill those positions.”
It appears that companies as a whole do cutback with one hand and reach for overseas workers with the other. Recently, the U.S. government began issuing around 85,000 H-1B visas for the new fiscal year; not nearly as many as the tech industry says it needs. The industry has tried to raise the H-1B cap, but those efforts have fallen short because they were tied to immigration-reform legislation that failed.
Why would a company hire someone from overseas to do a tech job in the US, when a more experienced worker is available here?
It is all about the Benjamins 🙂 As the following table shows, typical computer science grads with 20 years of experience in the field cost nearly twice as much as recent grads.
If senior employees are not perceived by their companies as being twice as productive as new hires, their jobs could be at risk. Perhaps learning Ruby on Rails on the weekends is the answer 🙂
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Dr. Al Lee