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“The Labor Gap”

Seattle Business magazine discusses workforce gaps in Washington State.

“According to a 2009 report by the HECB, state universities are producing less than half the number of computer science majors needed to meet projected demand in 2011.  However, state universities are not able to produce these graduates.  Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, says his program turns away between 50 and 80 percent of qualified applicants each year. These are freshman who have already been admitted to the UW and have completed all the prerequisites for the computer science and engineering program, but cannot be accepted due to a chronic shortage of student places in the programs.

“Would-be college students in Washington state who hope to graduate and find jobs in high-demand industries are not getting the training they need.  As a result, these industries end up with vacant positions, which they must fill by recruiting out-of-state or from overseas.  The state of Washington ranks first in the nation for the number of college degree holders from out-of-state as a proportion of the total population.

“’The question is, does every kid who grows up here and has the interest and the capability have the opportunity to compete for these jobs?’ Lazowska says. ‘And the answer is no’ …

“The reason for the low capacity in education is a lack of funding … Last year, the UW faced a 27 percent budget cut, which led to a 10 percent cut in the computer science and engineering department.”

Read the entire article here.

July 2, 2010