It is useful on occasion to immerse oneself in statistics, especially those compiled by objective governmental agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This will enable one to get a sense of how much the DeMatteis School is synchronized with employment needs and opportunities as we develop our strategic five-year plans for growth. After all, what would be the point of graduating more and more students with bachelor’s degrees in computer science or engineering if there were not enough jobs for them to utilize and further develop their skills? Of course, we can point to institutional data indicating that 96% of students who earned a bachelor’s degree report being employed, in graduate school or both. Of those who are employed, 96 percent say they got their job within six months of graduation, and report a median salary of $60,000.
But what of the bigger picture nationwide? There are currently over 600,000 college students majoring in computer science and engineering around the country, more than double the number from 25 years ago. Have academic institutions capitalized on a perceived need that may not actually be there?
The Congressional Office released a detailed report in November 2017 that gives us an as up-to-date answer to that question as is possible. Drawing largely from BLS data, it states that there are currently 6.9 million people employed in the United States in scientific and engineering fields. Of these, computer occupations account for a whopping 57.6% of the total, with engineering occupations at 23.6% being the second largest component. Managers of engineers and scientists represent 8.4%, life scientists 4.1%, physical scientists 3.8% and mathematicians 2.4%. That translates to approximately 4 million people in computer occupations (programmers, software developers, systems and security analysts, etc.) and 1.6 million people in engineering. Those numbers correspond to an annualized rate of increase between 2012 to 2016 of 3.7% and 1.7% respectively. Over that four-year span, differences in subgroups emerge. In computer occupations, the number of programmers fell by 45,000 jobs, but software developers increased by 207,000, and systems analysts increased by 87,000. Among engineers, the civil, mechanical and industrial fields each increased by approximately 30,000 or more jobs, while aerospace jobs (a historically volatile field) decreased by almost 12,000.
Of more interest to current students is the BLS analysis about where job growth will be in the near future. By 2026, it is estimated that there will be about 347,000 new openings per year in computer occupations and 126,000 new openings per year for engineers, taking into account retirements and other factors affecting the current workforce, in addition to the creation of new jobs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, using the most recent fully compiled data, the number of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences was 60,000 for the 2014-15 academic year, and the number of engineering degrees was 98,000. So, computer scientists and engineers will have ample employment opportunities.
We at the DeMatteis School are committed to undergraduate education and the positive outcomes it promises for our students. As long as we focus on maintaining currency with technological innovation continue to teach the core science and cultivate the requisite design skills within each of our curricula, we can be confident that employers and the world at large will be the beneficiary of Hofstra alumni taking their places in the workforce in the coming years. The bachelor’s degree in computer science or in engineering is still a sure route to a fulfilling career of using one’s talents to benefit society.