The technology profession is proving to be one of the safest careers available during the current economic crisis, providing good pay and solid job security. "The reality is there's still a very healthy job sector in information technology," says Stanford University professor Mehran Sahami. Unfortunately, technology's struggling image continues to dissuade students from pursuing technology degrees.
Tapping America's Potential, a coalition of businesses dedicated to doubling the number of students earning bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), reported last summer that it has already fallen behind on that goal after only three years. "If more people were aware of how strong the demand is in computing, I think there would be a healthier pipeline of students," Sahami says. The lack of STEM students led the National Science Foundation to start focusing more heavily on encouraging high school students to pursue STEM fields. Unfortunately, the problem is self-perpetuating, as the skills shortage drives the need for more H-1B workers, which further dissuades students. However, there is some hope that today's young adults are reexamining the tech industry stereotype, with recent enrollments in college STEM programs rising slightly. Meanwhile, colleges are adjusting their curriculums to offer more interesting classes earlier in their programs and linking technology classes to other fields. "There's a real social aspect," Sahami says. "There's an image problem in computer science right now that all you do is sit in a cube and program all day."
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