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Computer science grads fielding 'multiple job offers'

Open tech jobs outnumber the current crop of computer science graduates, industry watchers say.

By , Network World
June 01, 2011 06:04 AM ET

Network World - It's a good time to be a computer science major. Job prospects are rosy for today's graduates, who are entering the workforce at a time when tech hiring is on the rise and talent is hard to find.

"We've calculated that there are about two to three open jobs for every computer science grad this year," says Alice Hill, managing director at job site Dice.com.

"We're job-rich, candidate-starved right now," says Stephen Kasmouski, partner and general manager of the software technology group at recruiting firm Winter, Wyman. "The supply and demand has shifted dramatically, and it has shifted very quickly relative to what happened coming out of the last dot-com recession."

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Tech unemployment today is hovering around 4%, while the national unemployment average across all industries is 9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Moody's Analytics is forecasting that 138,000 technology jobs will be added between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of this year. Combined with earlier gains, that means tech companies will have created 164,000 new jobs since the job count stopped falling in the first quarter of 2010. (There's still a ways to go before returning to pre-recession job levels, however. Between mid-2008 and early 2010, the tech industry shed 309,000 jobs, according to Moody's.)

With more than 80,000 current listings, the number of tech and engineering jobs posted on Dice.com is up 60% compared to two years ago. New blood is needed to help fill these positions, but the supply of talent graduating with computer and information sciences degrees is inadequate.

In 2004, roughly 60,000 computer-related bachelor's degrees were conferred, says Hill, citing U.S. Department of Education statistics. That number fell to about 38,000 in 2008.

Over the last two years the trend has reversed. The Computer Research Association reports that the number of undergraduate degrees earned in U.S. computer sciences departments has been rising for two years, climbing 9% in 2010. The total number of new students enrolling in U.S. computer science programs also increased for the third straight year.

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Even though the number of people opting for computer science degrees is rising, "it's still a small population compared to the need," Hill says.

Across college campuses, professors and academic representatives painted a picture of growing demand for new graduates in Dice.com's latest research report, titled "America's Tech Talent Crunch." 

"I can't tell you the last time I had a student, even some of our poorer students, tell me they had trouble finding a job," said Dr. Tim Lindquist, a professor of computer science and engineering at Arizona State University's Polytechnic College, in the Dice.com report. "None of our graduates have trouble getting jobs, and we have weekly requests, very consistent, looking for people."

"There are easily two or three jobs for every computer science grad. Easy," says Anne Hunter, academic administrator for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "There's definitely an emerging tech boom."

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