Outsourcing aside, tech skills are needed in the U.S.

Techies can finally relax: They probably won’t have to move to India to get a job just because they’re majoring in information technology. In fact, it would be better if they didn’t – America needs them just as badly.

The fear that India might “steal” all of America’s tech jobs has been around since the ascension of India’s economy and the bursting of the American tech bubble, when the NASDAQ stock exchange lost more than a third of its value in just over a month in 2000. In November 2004, researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago found the information and communication technologies sectors had lost more than 400,000 jobs since their peaks in 2000. Those kinds of numbers are sure to frighten people planning their future, but things have changed since 2004.

Things have changed a lot, in fact. These days, companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase are asking universities where all the Information Communication Technology majors are. They’re asking Kaushal Chari, head of the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department at USF. According to the Tampa Tribune, Chari’s job is to try to convince people to major in management information systems. After all, enrollment in his department is down by more than 50 percent. Nationwide, the number of students enrolling in ICT-related majors is down by 70 percent from its peak during the tech boom.

But the demand for ICT skills is through the roof. Just ask the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which put as a bullet point in its 2004-2014 employment projections that, “nine of the 10 fastest growing occupations are health or computer (information technology) occupations.” However, that growth isn’t due to the overvaluation of tech companies, as in 2000. It’s because there are so few tech graduates being produced in universities around the nation.

Of course, if those jobs are just going to be outsourced anyway, there’s no point in majoring in those fields. But not all technology jobs are outsourced. The Association for Computing Machinery, a computer trade group, argued last year that no more than 3 percent of the jobs in technology fields are moved to other countries every year, which is actually less turnover than normally occurs in the economy. ICT majors with management skills are in an even better position, but the low enrollment numbers persist.

That’s a shame, frankly. After all, if students can’t manage their own fears, it’s likely they won’t be able to manage anyone else’s.

But those management skills could be the saving grace of the nervous ICT major. In the words of Bryan Gough, a USF undergraduate majoring in Management Information Systems, “they can outsource all the lower-level jobs, but they can never outsource the management.”