Techies in demand

December 12, 1997

UNIVERSITY underfunding is undermining the Canadian software industry's already difficult drive to fill its many vacancies, writes Philip Fine.

The information technology industry is thriving and snapping up qualified workers faster than they can be trained.

But the number of computer science degrees has risen by less than 10 per cent a year, not enough to fill North American software industry needs.

Universities, the chief suppliers of those workers, have found it difficult to raise the cash needed to train more students as they are adjusting to the $Can2.5 billion (Pounds 1.1 billion) loss in government funding over the past five years.

One IBM subsidiary looking for 50 employees recently held a contest among students in eight Canadian and United States universities, handing out free computers, holiday jobs and money in their search for top candidates.

Wayne Enright, chair of Toronto's computer science department, said that some students never even finish their degrees while others take a year's sabbatical to fill the vacancies.

Andre Trudel, acting director of Acadia University's Jodrey School of Computer Science in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, said his department, is filled to capacity but there was no money to expand. Both heads would like to see the computer industry fund departments more.

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