U.S. college students want technology skills to compete for jobs

Amid concerns that the economic downturn could impact their career plans, eight in 10 U.S. college students see a growing need for more IT professionals as technology advances, according to a survey by IBM and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The survey of more than 1,600 college students reveals that more than 50 percent are seeking to improve their own technology skills before they graduate. Eight in 10 expect to encounter new technology that they will need to learn, adapt to and master once they enter the workforce.

The findings come at a time when nearly one million technology-related jobs are expected to emerge as a result of President Obama’s $787 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

The U.S. government has made a call to action to modernize the nation’s technology infrastructure. This includes digitizing healthcare records, adopting energy efficient practices and expanding broadband networks. As a result, companies will look to hire more software developers, IT consultants and managers who possess both the technology and business skills necessary to support these investments.

While students see an increased need for IT skills, 60 percent surveyed — part of the generation which has grown up with the Internet and social networking tools — said personal use and experience have formed their technology skills, leading many to yearn for more formal training in this area.

Additional survey findings include:

  • College students are pervasive users of technology today: 99 percent own a cell phone, 93 percent own a laptop, 97 percent have a profile on a social networking site.
  • Three-quarters of college students are inspired by computers and technology and seven in 10 view technology as “the future.”
  • Among the skill areas students said they needed to improve, technology, writing and marketing ranked in the top three.

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