Money. It can be very motivating. And studying computer science is a $500 billion opportunity because there are 1.4 million computing jobs and only 400,000 computer science students. So, even in an economy with high unemployment there are plenty of jobs in this field. But money isn’t the only thing that makes computer science an opportunity. These are the jobs that are – quite literally – creating the future. Software touches everything from the gadgets we play, socialize, and surf on to the way we find information to the way we spend money. It’s increasingly built into the things in our home, operating our cars, and taking over medicine. Technology touches everything. And that everything is being created by people, mostly people who understand computer science and engineering. Anyone without those skills will be increasingly left out of the planning stages of the future.
And a lot of Americans are being left out of that planning meeting.
The companies that create technology are having a hard time finding enough Americans with the skills to create their products because less than five percent of Americans learn computer programing. “Computer programming is the single best professional opportunity in the world,” says Steve Balmer. “We need more Americans in the field.” In fact, it’s gotten so bad that tech companies have decided to that solution is to skip right over you and start recruiting young. Very young. They spend a small fortune trying to convince school children to consider a future in high tech. Google has invested more than $40 million since 2010 to expand after-school coding programs, provide teacher training, offer tech resources, and facilitate global access to computer science education for the next generation of tech leaders. Intel reaches out to schools -- starting in Kindergarten and right up to high school -- to help students (in particular girls who choose this path even less than boys) envision a future that includes science and engineering.
Money might be motivating when you are thinking how you are going to pay back your college loans, pay for housing and get a slick car. But this is about much more than money: It’s about the very shape of the future and who will be dreaming it up. The big tech companies – Intel, Facebook, Qualcomm, Google, Microsoft – would like more of those people to be American.