back to article US tech CEOs demand Congress programs US kids to be tech workers

A who's-who list of tech industry executives has urged US Congress to pump computer science training into the brains of American kids. The open letter, signed by more than 40 CEOs, board chairs, and company founders, asks all members of the Senate and the House to direct funding and support for programs that would create …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes Congress get right on that or else our under the table collusion won't keep wages down much longer. Keep the cheap fresh outs and H1Bs coming baby. Sadly we can't hide the disaster that is most off shoring any longer. Still quality is generally for the next generation to worry about.

    1. Bucky 2

      +1

      There are plenty of us looking for jobs, but not ENOUGH of us that we're willing to work for less than the offshore folks.

    2. Notas Badoff

      Between the lyings

      People will always say they want to improve situations, especially if they don't have to do anything of substance about it. This is just PR positioning, as they want people to not notice how they are currently making the situation worse.

      Instead, notice that this 'proposal' has a built-in time lag. Get those kids courses and training so that we could employ them years from now. Notice the word 'could', as in, if there were a million applicants, they could choose what to pay the fraction they deign to use.

      In the meantime, keep those H1B workers flowing. Since we don't have the 100K's prospects, we can't be bothered with the 10K's unemployed available now.

      Gee I wonder if recently there haven't been articles about how if NHS had 50K applicant doctors per year that things would go so much better for them. NHS that is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Between the lyings

        Yeah my parents talk about the days when companies actually trained employees instead of just hiring lobbyists to have the government pay for it but in those days companies actually kept employees that produced for them for decades instead of listening to some 27yo MBA selling them on how much cheaper it would be in the short term to get 3 Indians to do the job. Can't say that about my current awesome company but then again they and I are dinosaurs and it took me a while in my career to find them.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put Bernie Sanders in office and free college for all. That'll do it.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Bernie cant do any worse than the past several presidents have done in this respect, and I suspect he would do much better than any of the current crop of GOPpers would do should they rise to the top of the toilet bowl.

      1. Fatman
        Joke

        RE: Bernie

        <quote>Bernie cant do any worse than the past several presidents have done in this respect, and I suspect he would do much better than any of the current crop of GOPpers would do should they rise to the top of the toilet bowl spill out of the septic tank.</quote>

        FTFY!!!

    2. Where not exists

      College not the best model

      College takes too long and often does not necessarily produce people with the right skill set. The whole education process needs to be reconsidered. Tiered education with multiple timely sprints that advance current skills and teach new ones would be the way to go.

      1. rnturn

        Re: College not the best model

        I might expect that what these CEOs want is Ph.D.-level expertise obtained in a trade school time frame. But having worked (as a contractor[1]) with one of the companies whose CEO signed the letter, I'm pretty certain that they're not really looking for expertise at all. My experience is that they -- at least those companies that have large divisions providing outsourced data centers, managed services, etc. -- compartmentalize job skills such that all they really look for is whether someone can follow procedures. Pushing "computer science" into the K-12 education process will, likely, merely produce procedure followers who don't have to be trained on the basics of using a computer by these corporations. If those kids learn a little programming during their primary education, that's just gravy. And programming experience that won't be at a skill level high enough to even be useful to one of these companies. Wouldn't the time spent teaching K-12 students computer science would be better spent teaching them how to think critically?

        [1] - My contract stint with this company followed my job being outsourced to them. The ridiculous part was that the job I had at my old employer was sliced and diced to the point where there were six (count 'em) teams now responsible for the most of the day-to-day things I used to do. And those teams had little to no knowledge of what the other teams did or how their work might affect what the others were doing. Some manager worried about that. Maybe. Turnover on those teams was rather high; I always thought they left because they were bored by the narrow responsibilities. Despite all of this manpower the company had decided was needed to do my old job, a fair amount of stuff I had done for my previous employer wasn't being done via the outsourcing arrangement ~at all~ leaving a gap in capabilities that my former customers within the company had to do without. For example, I was prohibited from writing a script for someone as that wasn't covered under the contract. Even modifying an existing script would have caused "problems" in a management layer a level or two above my supervisor. My former co-workers were dumbfounded when they learned of this restriction.

        1. Where not exists

          Re: College not the best model

          "I'm pretty certain that they're not really looking for expertise at all." You got that right. Where I used to work I saw hundreds of years of irreplaceable knowledge and expertise walked out the door of any given layoff day. The software widgets still get cranked out, even though of lower quality, but still at the original full price, so management is happy with their bonuses. Human capital has no value in most places. The problem is for people who decide / need to retool in order to stay in, get back into the pool. Current systems do not support this need. For sure online education is helping, but it still has a traditional base. The process needs further updating. Even if employers don't give a hoot, people need jobs and they need constant availability of good education to help them keep running in place.

          "The ridiculous part was that the job I had at my old employer was sliced and diced to the point where there were six (count 'em) teams now responsible for the most of the day-to-day things I used to do. And those teams had little to no knowledge of what the other teams did or how their work might affect what the others were doing.". Sounds like your former employer is trying to make an assembly line process of your old job. I'd say, good riddance to 'em! Just turn your back and move on. Make their loss someone else's gain.

  3. Herby

    Given how people are taught...

    And some of those who are "learning", the outcome of this will be that EVERYONE will get a "passing grade" and have absolutely no knowledge of the subject at hand. You see, university work is HARD, and takes WORK. Both of these are limiting factors, and those who want everyone to be educated see as barriers to learning. Yes, they will have a piece of paper that says "Computer Science", but will they actually know how to do addition without using a calculator application on their smart phone.

    Good luck! Those hiring will need it. Welcome to mediocrity, the new norm.

    All men are created equal, after that it takes hard work!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Given how people are taught...

      Oh here we go. What is up with old people and f'ing mental arithmetic?

      I wrote a bignum library from scratch, efficient multiplication of large sparse matrices, physics engine on the GPU.

      I don't see how not being able to add a few small (base 10) numbers together without a spreadsheet devalues my comp sci degree.

      1. Alistair
        Coat

        Re: Given how people are taught...

        One point to be made about being able to do math *manually* -

        If you write the code, and run the program.

        How do you QA the results?

        Typically one will use an alternate code stream that is *known good* to verify your results.

        but there *are* cases where one should always be able to do it manually to verify the result.

        <mines the one with GEB/EGB in the pocket>

    2. Geoffrey W

      Re: Given how people are taught...

      I read the letter as saying that everyone should have the "Chance" to do CompSci, not that everyone would do it. I think it also says something about having the chance to follow the subject at University without requiring millionaire parents or an ability to run about with a football. There is a lot that could be done if enough of the political class had the will to do it.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Given how people are taught...

      well, the 'department of education' isn't helping much. Perhaps if schools taught "the 3 R's" as well as computers, and abandoned all of the revisionist history and "social indoctrination", as well as STOPPING IT with the Ritalin (which gets districts MORE MONEY as they dumb down the smart kids with drugs and force them into 'special education' instead of 'fast track'). Let's face it, too many agendas are victimizing the kids instead of educating them. And abolish the teacher's union while we're at it. Hire people who've been in the private sector instead of "professional educators". you know, having the people that understand what the REAL world actually NEEDS might dispense with the CRAP curricula.

      Then kids will learn what they REALLY need.

      I also wouldn't mind teaching actual ARITHMETIC without calculators for the 1st 4 years... it's how _I_ learned and I can do basic math in my head without requiring a computing device. no more blank looks when the teacher asks "what's 6 times 7". [why it's the answer to the ultimate question, that's what!]

  4. Anal Leakage

    And Google's already doing it by datamining students' Chromebooks!

    1. BugabooSue
      Pint

      @Anal Leakage

      Have an update for the comment.

      Just wish it could be two - bloody awesome username!! :)

      Have a beer instead!

  5. cd

    Foreign Companies

    Let them train their own workers, greedy cheapskates. Shut off the H1B faucet while we're at it.

    Should be no representation without taxation, their lobbyists shouldn't even be allowed on gov't property. It's a mark of how stupid Congress is that they lionise these assholes and pay attention to them.

  6. jake_leone

    Yes, and train those young workers quickly, we haven't got much time.

    INTEL might have to move all of its facilities out of the United States...

    Because INTEL just laid off 12,000, mostly old and expensive engineers last week.

    We urgently need 12,000 more, cheaper, younger, cuter, engineers to replace those aweful family men and ladies that so expensive, old, ugly, skilled, and knowledgeable.

    And don't give us any Bull about re-hiring them, their done.

    They know way too much and so can't be trained to follow the leader.

    All that experience and knowledge, in older workers, wreaks havoc on the the Reality Distortion Field that Steve Jobs invented (only thing he ever invented, you probably didn't know that (that's why we are executives), P.S. wisely, Steve had to copy all his other "original" - "ideas" from the young engineers he hired or the older obsolete guys at other companies).

    Sorry for the management primer.

  7. jake_leone

    Yes, INTEL needs about 12,000 replacement engineers this week, how soon can you have them?

    1. joeldillon

      Intel isn't an acronym, you know. No need to make it all-caps.

      1. jake_leone

        Oh! Gosh thanks. I also noticed a few other typos, but too late change them (Register delayed my post, I guess they wanted the first belly-laugh).

        All caps on INTEL might have been the way to go though, as it got you looking.

        I hope the use of INTEL didn't stop you from seeing the irony in how industry whines to the government while wasting the talent they already have?

        If you missed that, please read it again, and see if any of it gets you laughing, if not well you have my symphathies, and I wonder how did you get brain damaged?

        Or is the subject so serious, so 100% in you, that can't see just a teeeeeny-tiny crack of irony?

  8. Mephistro

    "...a shortfall in qualified computer science graduates...

    ... willing to work for a pittance."

    FTFY!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Innumeracy

    50,000 new graduates a year is plenty for 500,000 job openings, so long as those aren't 500K new/additional job openings each year. Given that a lot of people end up in tech after getting a non-tech degree we're fine. The CEOs just want to pay people less, and the best way to do that is to increase supply beyond the demand.

    When they're served coffee at a Starbucks by a Stanford CS grad who can't take a job in the field because it would mean a pay cut, they'll be able to declare success!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CompSci grads is not what the world needs...

    ...as these are supposed to do CompSci stuff, i.e. think hard about typing systems, logic, interactive computations, numerical algorithms et.c

    We need engineers able to apply solutions.

    Because currently webclickers and gonzo programmers are filling those jobs.

    WIth the clueless flocking to management, having the strong impression that a manager can stay technically clueless and is supposed to boss people around in exchange for a high salary - as opposed to shunt paper and generally see that work progresses and engineers are kept from idiocy, for the medium salary.

  11. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So fine... if that's what the industry leaders want, then give it to them with follow-ons. For every graduate, we take away 2 H1Bs. And yes, there's all those laid off "old people" in their 40's and above... perhaps a quota even though I'm against quotas. Or maybe a minimum IT wage?

    Damn... those companies might just have to pay people what they are actually worth.

    We can turn out more graduates. Will they have any proficiency or skillsets? Or aspire to be PHB's?

  12. noh1bvisas

    as a US citizen, I DEMAND greedy corporations stop hiring h1b guestworkers and pay a living wage to Americans. wages for IT workers have gone down steadily for 15+ years. kids aren't stupid - why would they go into IT these days?

    .

    as a US citizen, I DEMAND my government end the h1b guestworker program immediately.

    1. gobaskof Silver badge

      @noh1bvisas

      If you end the H1B visa program entirely you are screwed in science. All over the world science is done by the best in niche fields travelling to the best groups all over the world. If America block all talented scientists who are past 5 years on their J1 scholar visas from staying it will fall into ruin. How ever good you try to get your education, science works best with easy spread of knowledge and expertise over borders.

      1. noh1bvisas

        Re: @noh1bvisas

        WRONG. h1bs are cheaper. it has nothing to do with skills or the spread of science.

        1. gobaskof Silver badge

          Re: @noh1bvisas

          I am in the US on a J1 visa in a university setting. There are academics who are exceptionally important to the work that goes on in this physics department who are past 5 years on their J1. These people are on H1B and applying for green cards. This is very common in an academic setting. Yes tech companies abuse H1Bs, but just completely removing a system rather than clamping down on abuses is crazy.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop devaluing the industry if you want new workers

    It used to be that the IT industry paid their workers for the skills that they were trained in. Now, since IT is mainstream and used in every facet of business, companies don't want to have to pay real wages. The salary range for my job is listed at about 70K CDN, but employers are offering a paltry 45K while still requiring University degrees and years of experience.

    YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS YOU BLOODY WANKERS!

    Start paying people real wages and maybe you'll find more students training in the sector. Who wants to incur massive post secondary debt, for training in a career that pays at the poverty line...nobody you dumb asses.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Does this effort include some relevant kidlit??

    "Code Harder, Maggots!!", and other inspirational titles :)

    More seriously, I am glad that this is being considered, but if I were advising kids (mine or others), I would tell them to review the ins and outs of computer science before committing to it. Its a career that requires a lot of attention to detail, logical construction, hours spent at a keyboard and there does seem to be too much age discrimination. There are too many companies I walk into, look around and wonder where all the middle-aged or seniors have gone.

  15. Howard Hanek
    Childcatcher

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

    Intel since 2010 has been granted 41K H1B visas and just announced they're laying off 40K, the vast majority of which are Americans.

  16. Someone Else Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Complete and thorough BS

    First, no chance of additional funding from a Congress dominated by a party that has repeatedly vowed to eliminate the Dept. of Education, and that disavows science in general.

    Second, assuming America comes to its collective senses and removes said party from a controlling position in said Congress, why bother? Those same CEOs will still not be willing to pay the going rate and will continue to import indentured servants to fill these jobs they claim to be holding for this new inrush of fledgeling CompSci grads.

    Third, there is already enough available talent to fill these jobs. The problem is that there isn't enough talent that is willing to work at the indentured servitude slave wages that said CEOs are willing to pay for that talent. So the only reasons that these rat bastards CEOs want more CompSci (and presumably, SWEng) graduates would be to attempt to saturate the market for these jobs, thereby commoditizing the candidates, and driving down their wages.

    They're a bunch of cock suckers, these guys, and are not to be trusted!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slap that Education Bitch around...

    Tech Multinationals to Education:

    Hey education bitch, we avoid most taxes, so we don't provide financial support to you, but hey, start cranking out techies to keep our payrolls down, while the same said techies get saddled with a lifetime of college loan debt. Works for us.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think people are confusing "qualification" with "competence", and somehow forgetting that little startups like Google and Microsoft started with totally unqualified staff, and recruited more of the same in their early stages to get to where they are now.

    Sure, these people were competent, but it's somewhat amusing to reflect that the founders and initial staff that made most of these companies what they are now wouldn't have got so much as an interview from their own HR departments had they have had those HR departments on day 1!

    Why not say "must be competent" and create some form of *affordable* certification scheme (ie, financially affordable from disposable income for people in an average job) to qualify the competence of the vast masses of people who actually do this stuff either all day or as a hobby without having had a university degree?

  19. Eduard Coli

    Sad really

    Pre- outsourcing and visa abuse CS departments were supporting entire universities, whole levels of bookstore were dedicated to comp-sci. IT paid well and demanded competence.

    Then we had the politicos set it up so taxpayers would fund outsourcing and visa hires. CS is now generally dead, India now considers it a trade item and all competence has gone by the wayside.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A further question -- who's supposed to do the teaching? If I read the article correctly, we're talking about K-12 education, not uni. That means we're talking about (mostly) public-school curricula and public-school teachers.

    Any IT curriculum that starts with relevant knowledge and skills ends up being taught by teachers on the front lines who are -- by and large -- not themselves technically proficient. I've taught in enough schools to see who ends up "teaching technology" and how it's taught. Get enough of these semi-technical teachers in a district, get enough of them rising to positions of power, and the result is that hardcore tech skills wind up being diluted to the point that "Use Microsoft Word Art to make a fun headline" becomes a grade-worthy outcome.

    Computer Science -- _real_ compsci, and not "how to create a Facebook page" -- requires a level of technical sophistication that is attainable by a small number of people, and those people are -- by and large -- NOT inherently cut out for teaching in the risk-averse, numbed-down bureaucracies that are American schools, where a single misplaced word at the wrong moment means termination. Even worse are the power games played by students, parents, administrators, and co-workers -- games of innuendo, power, and control that IT workers are notoriously bad at playing.

    Considering how good IT people tend to be with matters of tact, subtlety, and judicious silence... a career in teaching technology at American (and Canadian) schools is almost guaranteed to be both unpleasant and short.

    What's left are the microscopic number of technically-competent teachers who are cunning enough to stay one step ahead of the different varieties of police (political, moral, religious, racial, sexual) and those who are simply too dull to have any opinions at all.

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