I am not a military expert – but as a follow on to yesterday’s very long blog entry on the Three Tiers of IT Workers and where the money is, there is some follow through that needs to be looked at.
The US Government, its various extensions and the US Military are the owners of some of the most advanced technology in the world. From spy satellites to GPS to monitoring the internet like a Hoover vacuum cleaner to technology that simply runs the affairs of state, the US Government presents one of the most dynamic and interesting IT Systems in the world.
There is a serious shortfall in people who graduate with an IT degree in any sense against the skills needed to run the technology of the nation. There is also a significant hitch to all this – to get a security clearance it is good to be an American. Not saying that foreign nationals cannot get a security clearance, but that it is part of the job description for many jobs in government security to be an American. If I was in charge of ensuring that the nation is ready for anything that has to do with computer science, at this point I would be worried.
Top Secret America – an investigative piece by the Washington Post shows that the demand for people with clearances is huge. With over 850,000 people with Secret or above clearances keeping that level of employment up is going to be difficult given the competition that exists for similar skills throughout the industrial process. Government work is not deemed sexy, nor is it deemed to be a “best and brightest” place to work outside of some of the cooler three letter acronym agencies.
From the road, it’s impossible to tell how large the NSA has become, even though its buildings occupy 6.3 million square feet – about the size of the Pentagon – and are surrounded by 112 acres of parking spaces. As massive as that might seem, documents indicate that the NSA is only going to get bigger: 10,000 more workers over the next 15 years; $2 billion to pay for just the first phase of expansion; an overall increase in size that will bring its building space throughout the Fort Meade cluster to nearly 14 million square feet. Source: Top Secret America
Just one agency is looking to hire some 667 new employees a year, or a little under 2 new employees a day. The competition for IT workers in these specialized enclaves is in danger given the current IT graduation rates in the USA.
Romney urged state leaders across the country not to view each other as competitors in a race to attract new industries. He identified the real threat as the possible movement of technology leadership to overseas locations. “We can’t have a tier one military with a tier two technology position,” he argued. Strengthening public education should be the focus of every state. “We must raise the bar,” Romney said. “We must make a wholly different commitment.” Source: Innovate America
Realistically then we are looking at the requirement to develop through education and colleges people who cannot only make cool things happen, but understand the complexities of IT through a wide range of its implementations. Where the money is, and where having a clearance will pay off for the American IT worker might just be in the vast and growing government services that run this nation from the Military through the Intelligence Services to the IRS. The need for good quality IT workers is simply going to continue to grow.
(Cross-posted @ Managing Intellectual Property & IT Security)