Computer science flourishes in Philadelphia

PIT-PennJobs_IMAGE-0421Written By Magaly Olivero

Graduates with degrees in the fast-growing field of computer science who are entering the job market need look no further than the Philadelphia area, according to industry recruiters.

“Computer science is probably one of the most in-demand technical skills and degrees that companies are looking for right now,” said Beth Dang, recruiting director for information technology at Experis, a unit of staffing and consulting giant ManpowerGroup. Information technology in general hasn’t slowed down at all even during the past five years when we were going through a recession,”

Dang covers the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas.

Information technology professionals (which includes computer science majors) have been a staple on global staffing giant ManpowerGroup’s annual top-ten list of the professionals that companies need most but can’t find.

Forty percent of businesses in the United States have difficulty filling these jobs. More than thirty-five percent of the business leaders surveyed said they couldn’t find talent with the necessary technical skills.

Given this scenario, students with degrees in computer science from a college that offers hands-on job experience through internships and other workplace opportunities have a clear advantage. Even an associate’s degree in computer science can pave the way for a rewarding career. Many computer scientists find positions where they can develop their skills and grow professionally.

The major role of computer scientists

Computer scientists design and create new approaches to technology and find innovative uses for existing technology. They solve complex computing problems that help companies to operate more efficiently and economically, while at the same time meeting the needs and expectations of their customers.

“Computer science is the most popular degree under the information technology umbrella,” said Kevin Maas, division manager for Jobspring Partners’ Philadelphia office, which exclusively works in information technology markets. His team also runs an event series, Tech in Motion, which aims to educate, connect and inspire technical professionals in Philadelphia.

“Anyone who graduates with an information technology or computer science degree is not going to have much trouble finding a job,” said Maas. “The cool thing about information technology is that it’s part of every single industry and every single company.”

Industry giants in business, medicine, science, technology, finance and other fields offer many career opportunities for computer scientists, recruiters said. But with technology at the core of so many endeavors, computer scientists can also find meaningful positions at start-ups and small and medium businesses, they said.

Philadelphia is fast becoming a hub for computer science and information technology professionals, according to recruiters. For example, Comcast Corporation is building a state-of-the-art innovation and technology center in Center City. The proposed $1.2 billion, 59-story tower will be located next to the company’s global headquarters.

Dang estimates that 75 percent of the 10,000 jobs housed in the new Comcast center will be in the information technology field. “There are more jobs than there are viable candidates for those roles,” said Dang. “There just aren’t enough people trained to do that type of work.”

“Philadelphia has done an amazing job at increasing technology funding and incubating a lot of start-ups so they can grow their business organically without having to move to New York, Boston or Washington, D.C.,” said Maas. “They’re doing a lot to keep information technology talent right here in the city.”

More companies want computer scientists “who are technically savvy and have good communication skills,” said Dang. In the past, company employees in information technology, business and marketing were more likely to work in silos with little interaction between departments.

“Now it’s very different,” she said. “Companies what people in their information technology and business departments to communicate and collaborate so each has a better understanding of the company’s goals, products and services.”

With future projections of a robust job market, Dang said she encourages high school and college students to consider a career in information technology and computer science.

“You’ll be able to find a job when you get out of college,” she said.