Growing Need for More Trained IT Workers

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-01-30 Print this article Print

And at IBM's THINK Forum in September 2011, former IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano said he planned to take the P-TECH model to Baltimore. "We're going to do one of these schools in Baltimore, because that's where I'm from," he said.

Meanwhile, in a Jan. 13 blog post, Joel Spolsky, co-founder and CEO of New York City-based Fog Creek Software, raised the issue of The Academy for Software Engineering. Spolsky said the academy, which will open in the fall of 2012, will be "the city's first public high school that will actually train kids to develop software."

Spolsky, who is on the board of advisers for the academy, added, "The project has been a long time dream of Mike Zamansky, the highly regarded CS teacher at New York's elite Stuyvesant public high school. It was jump started when Fred Wilson, a VC at Union Square Ventures, promised to get the tech community to help with knowledge, advice and money."

Mayor Bloomberg also mentioned the academy in his State of the City address:

"And now, thanks to support from CUNY, we plan to open three more schools using this same model including one right here in the Bronx. In addition, with support from venture capitalist Fred Wilson, this September we'll open a Software Engineering Academy, the brainchild of one of our own teachers - Mike Zamansky from Stuyvesant High School. We're honored to have both Fred and Mike with us today.

"The new school will be located in Union Square - home to a growing tech community that includes companies like Yelp and General Assembly. Those are the kinds of companies we want our students to work for, or to start."

In his post, Spolsky, who always seems to be looking for new talent for his organization, cited the need for more trained IT workers, saying:

"OMG do we ever need more software engineers. The US post-secondary education system is massively failing us: it's not producing even remotely enough programmers to meet the hiring needs of the technology industry. Not even remotely enough. Starting salaries for smart programmers from top schools are flirting with the $100,000 mark. Supply isn't even close to meeting demand. This school is going to be pretty small (in the 400-500 student range) but the Board of Ed has promised that if it's successful it'll be used as a template for more schools or for special programs inside larger schools. I predict that they will be overwhelmed with applicants and this will be the most popular new school in New York City in years."

"I want to personally thank the mayor, his education team led by Dennis Walcott, and his economic development team led by Robert Steel for adopting an integrated set of technology, economic development, and education policies and then aggressively rolling them out city wide," the aforementioned Fred Wilson said in his own Jan. 13 post on Business Insider. "The Academy for Software Engineering is just one part of a much bigger strategy of developing new industries and new jobs in New York City and making sure we have the education resources, both in K-12 and at the college/university level, to properly staff these new industries."

With the help of companies such as IBM and Lenovo, and venture capitalists and interested educators, more high school students will gain access to IT skills and training. And as the model for schools such as P-TECH begins to catch on and proliferate, perhaps the supply of trained youngsters prepared to enter the IT field will begin to meet the demand.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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