How much does outsourcing jobs overseas affect enrollment in IT courses in colleges? Computer degrees have seen a sharp decline since the dot-com bust and that's putting pressure on colleges to recruit students, reports the Tampa Tribune.
Some teachers such as Kaushal Chari, the head of an information technology department at the University of South Florida (USF), have found that along with their teaching duties, they must promote their department in order to counteract fears of outsourcing.
Chari has to convince students that all not IT job will be outsourced, and that there is actually a shortage of IT-related professionals in the U.S.
"Employers come in and complain to me that no one's applying for these jobs," he said.
The department holds movie nights with technology themes and free popcorn in order to attract students.
When it comes to outsourcing, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction. One study found that 29 percent of all jobs in the U.S. workforce will be potentially "offshoreable" in the next two decades (using 2004 workforce data). Other studies say about 3 percent will be outsourced.
Regardless of the possible percentages, the message to students is clear, and it's having an effect on enrollment.
But what Chari and other academics find difficult to understand is that there are more IT-related jobs available today than ever before. To counteract students' outsourcing fears, many schools are taking steps to teach skills that can't be sent abroad such as project management.
One of Chari's undergraduate students, Bryan Gough, said he switched out of a computer programming course track at USF and into the MIS track that includes management training. He did it partly because he wanted to develop skills that couldn't easily be moved to a foreign country.
"They can outsource all the lower-level jobs, but they can never outsource management," Gough said one of Chari's undergraduate students, Bryan Gough.