Jobs Report Foresees Bright Future for IT Careers

Susan Hall
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Despite all the debate about the value of a college education - I say college, yes; crushing debt, no - a new report reiterates something we already knew: It's getting harder than ever to attain middle-class status without some postsecondary education.


The report by the Georgetown University Center for Education in the Workforce looks at where the jobs will be through 2018 for those with a high-school diploma, an associate degree and a bachelor's degree. It builds upon previous work showing a growing disconnect between available jobs and those with the skills to fill them.


It found that for those with only a high school diploma, jobs paying $35,000 a year, its benchmark for entry into the middle class, would be clustered in four male-dominated sectors: manufacturing, architecture and construction, distribution and logistics, and hospitality. It concluded that to get there, women would need two more years of schooling in an occupation such as health care.


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Anthony P. Carnevale, who directs the Center on Education and the Workforce, told those at an event Monday hosted by the American Youth Policy Forum:

A woman just can't make it with only a high-school diploma.

The 100-page report looks at clusters of jobs at each educational level and echoes my colleague Don Tennant's mantra that IT will be a good place for our kids to be. It notes that IT careers can begin without even an associate degree, a position that CompTIA's Gretchen Koch stressed during an interview last month. According to the report:

The fastest-growing career cluster, Information Technology, is also the cluster with the highest overall share of postsecondary employment, most of which requires a bachelor's degree or better. Although the employment share for workers with some college/no degree or an associate's degree is not projected to grow nearly as fast as the share for workers with a bachelor's degree or better, shorter-length programs may still have an important role: providing technical skill updates or providing workers with a bachelor's degree in another career cluster (e.g., business) if the worker has initial technical skills

It notes that though manufacturing has long provided career options for those without postsecondary degrees, it, too, will require more education in the coming years as more automation comes into play:

... in manufacturing, the share of employment for workers with some college/no degree, an associates' degree or a bachelor's degree is projected to increase. This trend reflects the continuing shift toward automation and production organization that requires individual to possess problem-solving, math and communication skills.

Overall, the report projects that IT and STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, math) will provide salaries and opportunities well beyond entry into the middle class.

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Nov 29, 2011 3:33 AM Jim Carriglio Jim Carriglio  says:

Is this 1977 again?  Back then, insurance companies were taking people "off the street" and giving them an aptitude test.  Those who passed were hired and trained in-house to be computer programmers (specifically, junior applications programmers using the COBOL language).  A Bachelor's degree wasn't required, not even an Associate's degree.  Keep in mind, however, that those times preceded the heyday of 4-year Computer Science degrees.

Nov 29, 2011 5:56 AM Timothy Loftus Timothy Loftus  says: in response to Jim Carriglio

You make an excellent point.  In 1982, I got my start in IT with only some college.  I made the right moves and met the right people allowing my career to skyrocket.  Times were different.  There were no "IT" degrees available when I was in school and other fields did not interest me.  29 years later - the job market is extremely tight and I find that a degree would help.

I recommend to kids today that they stay in school and get a BS or BA minimum and go for a graduate degree if the opportunity is there.

I feel strongly that a degree would not help me to do better in my career, but unfortunately, this is not the accepted practice of the world we find ourselves in 2011.

Jan 5, 2012 1:28 AM stuart baker stuart baker  says: in response to Timothy Loftus

Interesting post! It's good to note that IT careers are among the fastest growing job clusters. In fact, I read this article sometime back about how there has been a revival of interest in computer science degrees and other Information Technology degrees among high-school leaving students. Another interesting development has occurred across the Atlantic in Britain. To give IT education a boost, they have introduced coding lessons in the fifth year of school. Now that's what is called forward planning!


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