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Gates sees looming shortage of U.S. tech professionals

Posted: 23 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:U.S. tech professional? computer science? engineers?

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates warns of a possible shortage of technology professionals in the United States in the coming years given a recent study which found that less than 10 percent of U.S. computer science programs graduates are black.

"The United States is not turning out from any group as many of the great engineers as there will be jobs for," said Gates, who added that blacks are particularly under represented in the tech industry because high school dropout rates in the black community exceed 50 percent.

"That is a stunning number ... the trends are very much working against somebody in that situation," he said during a conference hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. "There will be a huge number of computer science jobs created over the next ten years, and the number of people majoring in those subjects is falling short of that."

According to a study by the National Science Foundation, fewer than 6,000 of the 52,500 computer science graduates in the United States in 2004 were black. "The shallow pool of skills is due, in part, to the lack of minorities being drawn into technology," said NSBE executive director Carl Mack, in a statement.

Microsoft said it's trying to change that by partnering with NSBE and hiring and promoting African-American programmers and engineers. The company also announced a software developer grant to the NSBE that gives its members a three-year membership in the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance. The memberships give NSBE faculty and students access to a range of Microsoft products and technologies, including Windows Vista, SQL Server and Visual Studio.

Gates assured that Microsoft will continue its efforts to build a diverse workforce. "We want to get black engineers, Hispanic engineers ... everyone that we can," he said.

- Paul McDougall

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