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The fact that there’s a shortage of IT workers and developers may come as a surprise to the tens of thousands of tech workers who have been laid off in recent years and now find themselves unemployed or underemployed.
More than 30 years after the lifestyle began inching into corporate culture, there were almost 14 million Americans telecommuting at least part time in 2004, and an additional 7 million running businesses from home, according to the Labor Department. Human resources experts believe the number will continue to climb because more workers are demanding flexibility, and because high-speed Internet connections make telecommuting easier than ever.
"More than half of federal IT professionals still are unclear about how telework programs will impact FISMA compliance," Peterson said. "This is clearly an opportunity for industry, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Office of Management and Budget to step in and tear down a major roadblock for telework growth."
A viable alternative to offshoring "Urban meets Rural" by The Center to Bridge the Digital Divide at Washington State University
"There is a lot of tech-related work that can be handled in rural communities," she says. "In fact, there is little limit to the abilities of the population you now find in rural communities, particularly as more people seek to return home to their roots and look for jobs in those communities."
"A lot of people want to work at home, so they want to work for us," said David Meine, executive vice president of O’Currance. "And once we have an employee start working at home, one of the only reasons why they would leave us is if they move or they don’t need the income anymore."
Fast computers and broadband connections have become so inexpensive and reliable that location is now not an issue for certain jobs, like customer service.
Past tech recoveries tended to bring new lower-skilled jobs as well as high-skill jobs. This time, tech firms — from big companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. to mid- and small-size firms such as Netflix, Adobe Systems Inc., and SanDisk Corp. — have moved lower-skill jobs out of the Silicon Valley area to cheaper locations, or outsourced them to foreign countries.
A 2003 survey of AARP members found that eight out of 10 want or need to work part-time or full-time even after they’re eligible for retirement, says Allen. "We want to help bring these people together with the employers who’ll need them," she says.
"The average high school student and parent thinks all IT jobs have already gone to China or India," said UC Berkeley computer science Professor David Patterson, who serves as the association’s president.
"People who could have wonderful careers in the field aren’t even considering computer science because they’ve got the wrong facts. If you’ve got the talents, this is a pretty exciting field with lots of exciting things to do," Patterson said.
Jobs on farms, not abroad. High-tech companies are keeping jobs in the US by setting up offices in rural areas to cut costs.
"When you look at [farmshore] communities that are becoming successful, they’re saying, ‘Yes, we can compete with offshore, and we add value to these companies,’ " says John Allen, director of the Western Rural Development Center at Utah State University.
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