Posted on November 8, 2006

Bill Gates Says West Not Supplying Enough IT Talent

James Kilner, Reuters, Nov. 7, 2006

A shortage of information technology graduates from Western universities is leading companies to call on developing countries to meet research demand, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said on Tuesday.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia’s internationally renowned education system became a cheap talent pool for the West. Now dozens of Russian language Web sites offer computer programming jobs in the United States, alongside visa support and language training.

“Worldwide, a lot of the developed countries are not graduating as many IT students as they were in the past, which is kind of ironic as it does mean it does increase the opportunities,” Gates said.

Russia loses around 700,000 people each year — about 0.5 percent of its total population — to emigration, disease and alcoholism.

Many Western firms have also outsourced data management, software development and other high tech operations to lower cost operators in Asia, where education standards are high in some countries but wages are still comparatively low.

“There is a shortage of IT skills on a worldwide basis. Anybody who can get those skills here now will have a lot of opportunity,” Gates said.