While commentators suggest that college students should pursue high-tech careers, a sociologist argues that there aren’t as many jobs in this sector as people think:
Finally, it is a big mistake to think that the tech sector is a panacea for the jobs crisis. University of Michigan professor of business and sociology Gerald Davis has examined the data and found that the job-producing high-tech’s potential is consistently overplayed.
“Although the handful of teen billionaires who manage to cash in on the latest app may suggest otherwise, surprisingly few people actually work in the high-visibility success stories of the tech economy,” Davis writes in an article to be presented at the American Sociological Association meeting. “The combined global workforces of Google (32,467), Apple (63,300), Facebook (3000), Microsoft (90,000), Cisco (71,825), and Amazon.com (56,200) — 316,792 as of the end of 2011 — are smaller than the U.S. workforce of [grocery chain] Kroger (339,000). Notably, a recent survey of college graduates under 40 found than one in five listed Google as their most preferred employer, followed by Apple and Facebook. They might as well have chosen the NBA as Facebook, given the firm’s minuscule employment, and Apple’s recent surge in net jobs is almost entirely attributable to the roll-out of its retail stores, where most of its current employees work. The Computer and Electronic Products industry has seen a loss of 750,000 jobs since 2000 as production has been almost universally offshored. But even the Information Services sector, which includes telecommunications, broadcasting, publishing and data processing, shed over one million jobs during the same period.”
It sounds like aspirations and the number of available jobs don’t line up. Some could argue that there are plenty of smaller high-tech firms and start-ups along with plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurship but I’m guessing plenty of young adults would want to work for established (and cool!) companies.
Others have argued that people in or going to college should look at what jobs are going to popular in the future, presumably to avoid industries that are losing jobs. But what commentator would discourage young people from going into the high-tech sector even though they would quickly recommend steering clear of liberal arts degrees?