Can Xbox Help Stem Future IT Staff Shortages?

Ann All

A number of solutions have been proposed to address what most experts agree will be a shortfall in tech workers in the U.S. in the coming years.


Among them: allowing more H-1B visas, beefing up knowledge transfer efforts and stepping up governmental involvement in promoting technology careers.


Perhaps the oddest idea we've seen so far is Microsoft's suggestion that the Xbox could help create the IT pros of the future.


Included in a laundry list of high-tech ideas aired at the recent Microsoft Research TechFest 2007, billed as a "strategic forum for Microsoft researchers to connect with the broader group of Microsoft employees," was a mention of a virtual robot called Boku, which allows kids as young as four to do some rudimentary programming via their Xbox.


It's a way of showing youngsters the "magic of software programming," says the Microsoft Research SVP quoted in the Microsoft press release. (And not incidentally, of selling more of those boxes to parents who think $300 is a reasonable investment in their child's future career prospects.)


From Bill Gates' recent appearance at a congressional hearing to address the H-1B visa issue to researchers' tireless efforts to use the Xbox to interest toddlers in tech, you've got to give MS props for trying.


Technology managers on a recent Temple University panel also offered some interesting thoughts on the staff shortage issue, as detailed in this ZDNet blog post.


One we especially liked: creating a virtual innovation network comprised of former IT workers who could offer input on new ideas and lend specifiic specialized knowledge when needed.

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