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Women, minorities could solve the country's critical shortage of high-tech workers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Congressional Commission Thursday presented the House Committee on Science with a road map of recommendations that they say will solve the country's critical shortage of high-tech workers.

The way to solve the problem, according to the commission that has been studying the issue for the past year, is to draw more women, minorities and people with disabilities into the high-tech workforce. They added that if IT attracted the same number of women as men, there would be no shortage of skilled high-tech workers.

And yet today that shortage is costing the U.S. $3 billion to $4 billion a year in lost production and has the potential of staggering the nation's economy and its position as a global technology leader.

"I see this as the greatest challenge we have as a nation," says Dr. Neal Lane, former director of the National Science Foundation and the current president of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"We've seen this problem coming for years. We need to do something about it now. If the current trend persists, we, as a country, will fall short."

Congresspeople, scientists and high-tech employers all testified that increasing the number and diversity of Americans joining the high-tech labor force is critical to continuing the boom in the industry, which is largely credited as the current life blood of the U.S. economy.

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, this week said that the U.S. needs to better prepare its workers for jobs in the high-tech industry.

"Every citizen, every citizen must count for opportunities and must be counted for our nation's well being," Greenspan said at a gathering of U.S. governors. "How well we prepare our resources in this area will show in how well prepared we are as a country."

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