SIM targets shrinking IT workforce in US

Seventy-six million Americans will reach retirement age within the next decade, according to an April 2006 study conducted by Boston-based AMR Research Inc. Couple that with Society for Information Management (SIM) estimates that enrollment in IT-related courses at U.S. colleges and universities is dropping by 40 percent each year, and the likelihood of a national IT labor shortage becomes all too apparent.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Technology estimates that about 2.5 million IT jobs will be created in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010. The American Electronics Association estimates that the number of IT workers stood at 5.6 million at the end of 2006.

To help address an anticipated shortfall in the U.S. IT labor pipeline, SIM this year plans to expand its college IT career programs to high school students.

The professional group for IT executives 18 months ago teamed up with Microsoft Corp. to launch a program called Future Potential in IT in which local CIOs and Microsoft executives make presentations about IT career opportunities to groups of 200 to 400 students at U.S. colleges and universities, said Leo Collins, SIM vice president of advocacy and communities of interest.

The presentations are targeted at both technical and nontechnical majors, said Collins, who is also CIO at Lion's Gate Entertainment Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif. "We're appealing to people who will be future IT leaders," including students who are developing business experience and soft skills, added James Noble, president of SIM International and group vice president and CIO at Altria Group Inc. in New York. The presentations are also webcast by participating schools for students unable to attend live meetings, he said.

Noble said that SIM is planning to organize programs at a dozen presentations at colleges and universities around the U.S. this year.