Trucking and the IT degree drop-off

Aug. 1, 2013

Here’s a scary thought: even as the trucking industry relies more and more on a variety of information technology (IT) systems to conduct everything from freight manifest delivery to compiling vehicle inspection reports, there are fewer and fewer college graduates available specializing in vital IT disciplines.

That’s the result of a new study conducted by CareerBuilder and its Economic Modeling Specialists (EMSI) division, which notes that U.S. colleges and universities are producing fewer IT graduates than they did a decade ago.

The study uses EMSI's labor market and education database – which pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers – combined with higher education completion data (including associate's degrees and above) gleaned from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The results are worrisome to say the least: even as the number of computer and IT jobs grew 13% nationally from 2003 to 2012, the number of computer and IT degrees completed in the U.S. declined 11% during that same period – a drop-off in tech-related completions even starker in some of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas such as New York City.

"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,” noted Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “This 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.”

Here are some more statistics concerning this IT drop-off from the CareerBuilder/EMSI study:

  • Some 13,576 fewer computer and IT degrees were awarded in 2012 versus 2003, an 11% decrease
  • Meanwhile, related IT jobs in the U.S. have increased 13.1% from 2003 to 2012; translating into an additional 311,068 positions;
  • Of the 15 metros with the most computer and IT degrees in 2012, 10 saw decreases from their 2003 totals;
  • The biggest decreases in computer and IT graduates among the largest metros included New York City (a 52% drop), San Francisco (55%), Atlanta (33%), Miami (32%), and Los Angeles (31%);
  • Notable metros to increase their computer and IT higher education output were Washington, D.C. (a 31% rise), Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 14%), and Salt Lake City (up 117%).

By contrast, look at how college degrees in other fields are increasing: Health degrees climbed 112% from 2003 to 2012 according to the CareerBuilder/EMSI study, most in nursing and allied health positions; Liberal arts and humanities degrees increased 47%; Engineering went up 37%; business, management and marketing degrees jumped 33%; and education degrees climbed 18%.

“Degrees in health professions, engineering, business, liberal arts and education are growing rapidly and we need IT degrees to keep pace,” stressed CareerBuilder’s Ferguson.

Where trucking is concerned, that need for IT will be even more acute in the years ahead. So let’s hope, then, that this falling IT degree trend line can be reversed.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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