The rapidly shrinking number of US undergraduates signing up for computer degrees has prompted concern among high-tech companies that soon there won't be enough skilled workers to meet the demand.
New enrolment in North American computer science and engineering programmes has dropped for four straight years, falling 10 per cent during the 2003-04 school year, according to the Computing Research Association, a trade group for computer professors.
The trend is largely attributed to the dot com bust and widespread worries about the accelerating pace of offshoring by high-technology employers.
The Washington-based group said the percentage of incoming undergraduates indicating that they would major in computer science declined by over 60 per cent between the Fall of 2000 and 2004, and is now 70 per cent lower than its peak in the early 1980s.
Many feel that this phenomenon could lead to more offshoring. Many low-level programming jobs have already been sent to India and China. But high-level jobs combining technical and business skills are still in the US.
However, "that could change if there is not enough workers to fill them," USA Today said.
"If we don't do anything, there are hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of Chinese, Indians, Slovaks, etc, that would love to have these jobs," said Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer professor Jack Rockart.