by Kathleen Scalise
At a packed press conference on campus Jan. 12, three Clinton cabinet members declared that a shortage of information technology personnel could imperil billions of dollars in corporate profits and announced federal initiatives to train more workers.
"Today as I visit with CEOs it's definitely one of the two or three top issues they want to discuss," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley. Also participating in the press conference were Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Deputy Secretary of Labor Kitty Higgins.
They project the demand for computer scientists, engineers and systems analysts will double over the next 10 years to create more than 1.3 million new high-wage jobs. To fill these jobs would call for the equivalent of 40 times Berkeley's annual graduating class in all disciplines, they said.
The officials unveiled four new federal projects to address the shortage: $6 million in industrial grants to expand vocational outreach; $3 million in seed money to train dislocated workers in information technology; four national town hall meetings to discuss work-force needs and solutions; and a "shadow day" where young people accompany and watch workers in the high-tech industry.