Computer-science: CS degrees down, CS degrees up?

A recent report states that the number of people receiving degrees in computing and IT dropped by 11% over the 10-year period between 2003 and 2012.  However computer and IT jobs grew by 13% over the same period.   This echoes what people and companies are saying about an upcoming shortage of programmers.  They say that demand will outstrip supply because of this disparity and that many jobs will go unfilled.  “Despite job boom, fewer students study tech”, says CBS News Moneywatch (cue ominous voice).

Where did those graduates go?  Perhaps they instead received engineering degrees and they are still doing something engineering-related, right?  Not so much.  It looks like many pursued health degrees (+18.6%) and business degrees (+33%) while only 5.7% more received engineering degrees.  Atlanta in particular was singled out with a -33% drop in tech degrees.  This happened in the land of GA Tech, Emory, and GA State!  Plus with all the numerous smaller colleges offering tech degrees around the Atlanta metro region this is especially low.  One small bit of hope is that this is a lagging indicator and that students graduating in 2012 started back in 2008 when the recession was just getting started.

But wait!  The Seattle Times says students are “flocking to computer-science programs”.  Public universities across the state of Washington are seeing a big increase in computer-science, engineering, and other high-tech fields.  The majors are so popular that one college is even running out of room despite being in a new building.  Hundreds are being turned away at UW from the computer-science program due to a lack of space.

Seattle is the land of Microsoft and Amazon among many other successful tech companies that today’s youth would recognize including Popcap, Wizards of the Coast, Penny Arcade, and ArenaNet.  Technology is in the ethos of that area and so that might explain a rise in demand as the tech economy takes off again.  Hopefully this is a sign of improvement in enrollment nationwide.

“Computer science has ‘change the world’ potential like no other field.” - Ed Lazowska, University of Washington

At Start Code, we want to instill a creative passion for programming and technology in our students.  This is the first step toward a potential degree and career.  We want them to see a possible future path for themselves that can be enjoyable and rewarding as well as valued by employers and the marketplace.  Then when the students are ready to move on to college or whatever their next step will be, they will have the confidence and skills to flourish because these skills cross all careers today.  And even if they follow their own interests and pursue a degree that is not traditionally considered a tech degree, like health or biology or medicine, they can use their skills to do the job more efficiently.