Career Central

A brief compendium of the IT workplace

Climb out of the Valley to find tech jobs

There is a ferocious debate among business, employment, technology and urban planning publications over the location of the next big U.S. technology hub.

Some put their money on the Rocky Mountain region, while others point to massive land purchases by Google and Microsoft in potato country. But one of the things almost unanimously agreed upon is that it will not be in Silicon Valley.

For one, the cost of living is staggeringly high. A $70,000 salary in the San Francisco valley doesnt even ensure that an individual will break even, with costs of living roughly 40 percent higher than in Sacramento, Calif.

Second, technology that enables remote work, such as Wi-Fi, allows for some scattering of where IT job hot spots can spring up.

In his keynote at the May Xtech Conference in Amsterdam, technology essayist and entrepreneur Paul Graham asked, "Could you reproduce Silicon Valley elsewhere, or is there something unique about it?" He hypothesized that as few as two elements could cause the formation of a new tech nucleus.

"I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. ... Everyone else will move," Graham said.

Computer curricula deemed disastrous

A report released June 7 by the Computer Science Teachers Association Curriculum Improvement Taskforce criticized U.S. high schools for not uniformly requiring students to take computer science classes.

The report argued that the United States is "sitting quietly on the sidelines while other countries make improvements to ensure their high school graduates will be ready to meet the demands of tomorrows high-tech society."

Only 26 percent of U.S. high schools require computer science classes, and only 40 percent even offer an AP (Advanced Placement) computer science course, according to the report.

CSTAs research is supported by the College Board, which found that while AP exam-taking rose by 19 percent from 2002 to 2004, the number of students taking the computer science exam decreased by 8 percent in the A category (easier) and 19 percent in the B category (more difficult).

The report states that the lack of focus on computer science education in the United States is "disastrous and shortsighted," in light of an anticipated shortage of qualified candidates for the 1.5 million computer and IT jobs expected by 2012.

Report: IT upswing a jobless recovery

Dismissing industry claims to the contrary, a study released June 14 asserts that the technology market is actually in a "jobless recovery."

The study was released by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago on behalf of the WashTech/CWA (Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, an affiliate union of the Communications Workers of America).

The study argues that recent hiring in the IT industry reflects cyclical recovery in IT labor markets and not sustained growth, finding that just 76,300 new IT jobs have been added since April 2003.

The number adds up to less than a quarter of those lost during the recession, despite the fact that the recovery began five years ago.

According to the report, the IT industry eliminated approximately 402,800 jobs between March 2001 and March 2004, even while the nation began officially experiencing an economic recovery in November 2001.

"Technology job growth is weak at best in most major markets across the country," said WashTech/CWA President Marcus Courtney in a statement.

The news isnt all gloom and doom, however. The report finds "bright spots" such as Seattle, San Francisco and Washington showing even growth.

The discovery of greatest alarm in the study is the transfer to foreign markets of jobs and services. The outsourcing of coding, software design, data processing, claims processing and customer service is called out in the report as contributing to the overall weakness of the IT labor market.

—Compiled by Deborah Rothberg

The Shifting Sands of Your Life

There are plenty of tech hot spots outside Silicon Valley. Here are the top 10 tech metro areas:

* New York/New Jersey: 10,886 jobs

(New York; Long Island and Westchester County, N.Y.; northern New Jersey)

* Washington: 8,548 jobs

(Baltimore, Washington, northern Virginia, southern Maryland)

* Silicon Valley: 8,297 jobs

(San Francisco; Oakland and San Jose, Calif.)

* Los Angeles: 5,218 jobs

(Los Angeles; Riverside and Orange County, Calif.)

* Philadelphia: 3,345 jobs

(Philadelphia; Allentown, Pa.; southern New Jersey; Delaware)

* Boston: 2,699 jobs

(Boston and suburbs)

* Dallas: 2,660 jobs

(Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; and suburbs)

* Atlanta: 2,366 jobs

(Atlanta and suburbs)

* Seattle: 1,901 jobs

(Seattle and suburbs)

* Total available jobs on Dice.com as of May 31: 86,370