Information technology (IT)is ubiquitous today. However, recent findings has found a decline in students in Australia choosing to major in IT. In a recent survey, they found that only 5.59% of potential students would choose to enroll in an IT major. A sharp dropoff can be seen in IT majors from 2005-2006 and there has not been a significant increase in students majoring in IT since 2006. A similar picture can be seen in the United States where according to an interactive graph by Ben Schmidt shows that students choosing to major in computer science peaked in 2005 and maintained a consistent downward trend through 2010.
There is a misconception that even though technology is everywhere, technology jobs are being outsourced for cheaper labor. In addition, people may feel that it is possible to get a proficient education in IT without choosing to be an IT major. Massive, Open, Online Course innovators like Udacity are promising a job within six months of graduation in various IT fields such as machine learning. While it is true that some IT jobs are outsourced, IT jobs are still growing at twice the average of all jobs. The specific sector that is not predicted to have a good job outlook is computer programming.
Companies are more interested in a person who has technical skills but is still able to collaborate, communicate, and solve business problems. The most important skill for IT majors to have is the ability to look at the whole system and understand how the parts work with the whole. This aligns with recent research showing that employers value soft skills over skills related to a student’s major. In a recent study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities 93% of employers valued skills like communication and ability to solve problems over whatever major the student selected. When working for a company like Google they emphasize that a specific degree is not required to work for them but that the technical expertise is still required. This article stating that one of the reasons students are not majoring in IT as much as they previously have been is that the field of IT evolves so rapidly that a college setting is not the best place to learn skills in a rapidly changing field. It also also found that while 96% of students liked technology they were not actually interesting in majoring in a technology related field.
In a 2009 study by Walstrom, Schambach, Jones, and Crampton business students identified the top two reasons that they did not want to major in information systems because they were not interested in the subject and it did not lead to what they wanted to do in their career.
These are some of the reasons why a student may choose not to major in information technology and it is imperative that colleges and universities who offer this degree understand how to stay relevant in a changing world.