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Dated: May. 15, 2005

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By Hackman

There Is A Shortage Of Technology Workers, And Going To A College Will Help You Fill That Gap

The first part of this myth is half-true; It really comes down to what sector of technology you are talking about. It is popularly believed that all branches of computer technology have huge deficits in the number of workers needed, and that anybody with any kind of skill in the computer industry is ready to make a good living. This thinking is fueled by the constant reports that there are tens of thousands of technology job positions which lack people with the skills to fulfill them.

But a look at the job postings, and the people coming out of college, will tell you the real story. The truth is that the popular technology sectors have not only been filled, but flooded with more workers than are needed. Many people believe, to this day, that not enough people know how to install a video card or create a web page with basic HTML. This is not true; Essential web design skills and PC servicing knowledge are popular subjects for people new to computers, and by now we have more web designers and hardware techs than we need. If you are A+ certified or you know HTML, you'd best believe that this alone will not net you a good job. Maybe 5 years ago it would have, but not now. The supply of these kinds of basic technology workers far exceeds the demand. The result is a lot of umeployment among those people, and much lower wages among those who do have jobs in those fields.

Myths of the IT WorldEven the major development languages are pretty much full by now. Java, for example, is a hot technology; But so many people have learned Java that there is no longer a great need for Java programmers. It is not a completely flooded market yet, but with the way the industry is going, it will be soon; So many students are studying Java that it will soon be a common skill.

Colleges love to quote the figures, declaring that there is still a huge need for computer technicians and that a course in networking or web design will guarantee students a comfortable living. This is not true; The things that are taught in most technical colleges are exactly the very skills that are no longer needed.

Instead, the need for technology workers has shifted to the more exotic fields. An important field right now is that of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and the database-like products it shares ties with; Within this field are a few major products such as PeopleSoft and SAP. If you are knowledgeable in one of these products, you certainly stand a much better chance of getting a job, and you are likely to make more money if you do get employed than a PC repair tech. Yet I have yet to see any colleges teaching these products; Instead, all the career colleges continue to offer the same stale courses in HTML, Java, and Windows administration... The same subjects that do not offer many employment prospects anymore.

Believe it or not, there are still many professional opportunities working with mainframes. Despite many people who believe that the mainframe era is long gone (and many ultra-hip colleges that try to make their students believe the same), many businesses are running on proprietary mainframe technologies, most notably AS/400. Yet I have not seen any colleges that teach any mainframe technologies. The reason for this is simple: It's not glamorous. Young people have been so tricked into believing that new, hot technologies are where the money's at that they want to learn things that everybody else knows. There seems to be a general lack of understanding that business is still business, even in the Internet Age, and businesses are more interested in what makes money than what's new and cool. If a career college advertised courses in mainframe education, they would be laughed at, and it would damage their reputation. That's why they don't do it; The purpose of a college is to make money. Make no mistake, the college itself is a business, and they are more in the business of taking students' money than educating those students.

If you want to see where the real money is, just go to some tech job listings on any of the major Internet job portals, and see what technologies the companies are really asking for. When you do this, you will start to realize that the real money lies in technologies you have probably never even heard of, and which are not taught by any college. The best education is still to teach yourself; When you teach yourself these skills using books, you will be a more marketable employee than most of the people coming out of the career colleges.

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