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USG Students in High Demand Regionally and Statewide With Georgia Employers

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Supply Of USG Technology Graduates Increasing To Help Stem Statewide Shortfall

Atlanta — March 14, 2001

Seven out of 10 University System of Georgia graduates working in the field of information technology completed their education in the region where they work, according to a study being produced for the Board of Regents.

In fact, at least 72 percent of all University System alumni who graduated between 1993 and 1997 were working in Georgia during 1998, a number considered conservative by the two researchers conducting the study, because it excludes the self-employed, non-profit sector employees, small and self-employed farmers, and other miscellaneous job classifications.

The migration and occupational analysis sponsored by the University System of Georgia’s Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP) reflects that clear regional and statewide enrollment and employment trends emerge from the state’s 34 public colleges and universities.

The study, soon to be released by Dr. William J. Drummond, associate director of the Georgia Tech Center for Geographic Information Systems and an associate professor in Tech’s City And Regional Planning Program, and Dr. Jan L. Youtie, a research scientist in Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute, was presented to the Board of Regents at their monthly meeting today in Atlanta. According to Drummond, “this is the first time any statewide public higher education system has been able to track their alumni geographically after graduation.”

An early major finding of the study is the conclusion that the University System’s academic programming efforts have been successful in helping the state stem the shortfall of information technology workers that has plagued the nation in recent years. “While a shortfall still exists in Georgia, the University System is addressing the issue,” Drummond stated. “The shortfall has been quantified at 1,400 jobs annually, and measures have been taken to stem that tide and avoid a loss in economic competitiveness. Otherwise, Georgia could potentially experience a loss of 14,000 jobs over the next decade, because businesses are crying for these workers.”

The University System of Georgia’s production of high-demand graduates in the computer and information technology fields has increased significantly during the past decade. In FY 1991, the System produced 1,294 graduates with degrees and certificates in computer science, information technology, electrical engineering and related disciplines. By FY 2000, that number had jumped to 2,674 - more than double the number in the same disciplines.

In addition, the University System currently offers 64 degree programs and certificates in computer science, electrical engineering, information technology and related fields. Of these 64 programs, 11 are in the newly emerging field of information technology, and have been approved by the Board of Regents since FY 1997.

Both the researchers and System officials recognize that “in-migration remains critical for reducing IT shortfalls and other potential shortfalls” in the state’s high-demand occupations. In addition, System officials point to the need for enhanced inclusion of women and minorities in the burgeoning IT professions to expand the workforce pipeline.

Drummond and Youtie posed two critical questions to launch their analysis of USG alumni: “Where do (USG) students come from, and where do they go to work?” and “Are there enough USG graduates to fill high-demand occupations?” The researchers culled data from the USG’s Student Information Reporting System (SIRS) and the Department of Labor’s occupational employment statistics.

The researchers scrutinized data from the Georgia Department of Labor’s employment security database, which includes 96 percent of wage/salary jobs across the U.S., 92 percent of national income, the state’s private companies with one or more employees, most state and local public employers, agricultural firms with more than nine employees, and certain classifications of domestic workers. That data was matched to USG alumni who were 1998 Georgia employees in 800 occupational categories.

Drummond and Youtie then used geographic information system (GIS) software to produce a set of four maps for each of the 34 institutions in the University System. These county-level maps show:

  • The number of institution’s students drawn from each county in Georgia;
  • The institution’s percentage of all students attending all USG institutions;
  • The institution’s 1993 to 1997 graduates employed in each county (during 1998), and
  • The institution’s percentage of all USG graduates employed in the county.

This data from the University System of Georgia’s 34 institutions then was used to measure demand, calculate supply, translate supply into occupational categories, and finally to identify unmet need for high-demand professions throughout the state. The data from four representative USG institutions (Southern Polytechnic State University, Georgia Southern University, Fort Valley State University and the University of Georgia) were presented to the Board of Regents today to illustrate the study’s early findings and conclusions.

The study determined that significant shortfalls existed for three information technology occupations in the state: computer engineers, computer programmers, and system analysts. Also, the research determined that statewide 69 percent of information technology employees are supplied from the same region where they secured their academic preparation. Columbus – where ICAPP has operated a highly successful information technology training program at Columbus State University – well exceeded that statewide average by providing 92 percent of its own information technology employees, the highest regional percentage in the state.

For those professions with widely publicized supply concerns, such as the aging teaching and nursing fields, the researchers acknowledged the impact of “image problems” that could potentially hamper future employee recruitment. “No matter what University System of Georgia officials do to create high-quality academic programs, employment shortfalls are out of their control if insufficient numbers of students enter these fields because they have more attractive options,” Drummond stated.

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