NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
The number of undergraduates signing up for computer degrees continues to decline, fueling concerns among tech companies that there won't be enough skilled workers to meet demand, according to Monday's USA Today.
New enrollment in computer science and engineering programs has dropped four years in a row, the newspaper said, citing the Computing Research Association, a trade group for computer professors.
"Students are responding to the alarming rate that the job market changed (during the dot-com bust)," Ohio State University computer professor Stuart Zweben told the newspaper.
Although shortages haven't become a problem yet, the pool of trained tech workers could become problematic in a few years if the number of computer graduates declines while the tech industry grows. For now, numbers are still strong, with more than 20,000 computer bachelor's degrees awarded to North American students in the 2003-'04 school year, the CRA said.
IBM is planning to give schools millions of dollars in software and offer the expertise of more than 1,000 staffers as part of a widespread college-support program, the newspaper said.
The computer company will also announce a partnership with the University of Arkansas to create classes for students seeking tech jobs at Wal-Mart. According to USA Today, the program will be part of the university's information-systems major, which is under the business school's jurisdiction. "You need a marriage of technical skills and business acumen," Buell Duncan, the IBM executive in charge of the program, told the newspaper.
Is the pickup in IBM's services business enough to help the beleaguered computer company? Click here.