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Why the Tech Skills Shortage Is About to Get Worse

it gut . / Credit: Information Technology Image via Shutterstock

The search for information technology workers may become even harder in the coming years, as the number of people entering the information technology field has decreased even as demand for those workers has grown in recent years, new research has found.

The study, conducted by CareerBuilder, found that IT jobs in the U.S. grew by 13 percent from 2002 to 2013, but the number of people who graduated with IT degrees in 2013 was 11 percent lower than it was in 2002.  

Graduates have turned to a number of other professions in place of IT. One of the most popular career fields was health care: There were 112 percent more degrees in the health care field in 2012 than there were in 2003. Part of the reason for the popularity of that field is its extraordinary growth: There were more than 1.1 million new jobs added in the health care field between 2003 and 2012.   

The researchers also found that graduates appeared to be turning to business school. The number of degrees in business and marketing grew by 33 percent from 2003 to 2012, while the number of jobs in those fields grew by 1.2 percent. Additionally, degrees in liberal arts and the humanities grew by 47 percent from 2003 to 2012, accounting for 10 percent of all college degrees.

Moreover, the number of jobs in the education field grew by 18 percent over the same time span, while job openings increased by 6.3 percent.   

"The slowdown in IT degrees over the last decade may have been influenced, in part, by the dot-com bubble collapse and by more recent trends of tech workers being trained by employers or trained through informal programs outside of a traditional academic setting," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. "The deficit in IT-degree completions is concerning when you consider that there is already a considerable gap between the demand for and supply of IT labor in the U.S. today. Degrees in health professions, engineering, business, liberal arts and education are growing rapidly, and we need IT degrees to keep pace."

The research was based on data from Economic Modeling Specialists International, a labor market and education database that includes data from 90 national and state employment resources. The research also used data from the National Center for Education Statistics.