Information Technology:

Assessment of the Commerce Department's Report on Worker Demand and Supply

T-HEHS-98-144: Published: Apr 21, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1998.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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GAO discussed the Department of Commerce's report on the demand and supply of information technology (IT) workers.

GAO noted that: (1) Commerce's report has serious analytical and methodological weaknesses that undermine the credibility of its conclusion that a shortage of IT workers exists; (2) however, the lack of support presented in this one report should not necessarily lead to a conclusion that there is no shortage; (3) instead, as the Commerce report states, additional information and data are needed to more accurately characterize the IT labor market now and in the future; (4) the report appears to appropriately establish that the demand for IT workers is expected to grow, but it does not adequately describe the likely supply of IT workers; (5) although Commerce reported that only 24,553 U.S. students earned bachelor's degrees in computer and information sciences in 1994, Commerce also stated the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects increasing job growth--an annual average of 95,000 new computer programmers, systems analysts and computer scientists and engineers will be required to satisfy the increasing demand for IT workers between 1994 and 2005; (6) pointing to the disparity between these two numbers and referring to evidence from other sources, Commerce concludes in the report's title and introduction that there is a shortage of IT workers; (7) Commerce did not, however, consider other likely sources of workers, such as college graduates with degrees in other areas; and (8) as a result, rather than supporting its conclusion that a shortage of IT workers exists, the data and analysis support the report's observation that more needs to be known about the supply and demand for IT workers.

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