Nowadays, I can’t browse through my Feedly without seeing some news-piece on the shortage of Computer Science or Engineering graduates from American universities. There is a crisis in the US job market–not enough tech-savvy talent to supply to growing demand.  And employers are starting to look beyond our country borders to find eligible candidates. Furthermore, there has been lots of buzz about the scarcity of women in these fields–meaning women are in even higher demand than their male counterparts. Can you say, “Glass ceiling reversal”?

So like any other day I started my morning browsing Feedly. But today something different happened. I finally picked up on the signs that have been there all along, which I chose to ignore.

“Earth to Laurence: Learn a thing or two about computer science!”

So I did some online research. Turns out, CompSci is SO in demand that there are tons of free resources. After looking over a few online “courses” I decided to sign-up for Udacity. Udacity allows you to make a user profile with some basic info (which apparently recruiters can see). You do little lessons online followed by quizzes. Then once completing all the coursework (taking about 7 weeks) you get a certificate. Aka now one can confidently add these skills to a resume.

It’s common knowledge to anyone who follows US current events that anything tech-related is so hot right now: tech start-ups, new social media platforms, creating an app, web developers, web designers… and the list goes on.

All and all, having advanced computer skills is a major asset in the US. But wait a minute, are these skills in high demand elsewhere, like developing economies? I never even thought about it. But, I mean, in a place like Africa where less than 16% of the total continent has internet access, how could there be? Moreover, are high-tech jobs in high demand in Far East and Southeast Asia?

There is obviously a huge digital divide between the “developed” and the “developing” in this part of the world. Look no further than Japan and South Korea when trying to find tech-superstars. In Japan Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba were born. South Korea has many domestic-based computer businesses as well as the international Samsung conglomerate. In fact, at a former internship I had an assignment that revolved around the robotics industry in South Korea–which is insane. Their government invests a ton of money into the sector and they hope to have a robot in every home by 2020. They have an entire city, Daegu, which serves as the “robot-hub.” Oh, and a robot-themed amusement park, “Robot Land”, is to be completed by 2014. AND robots in South Korea teach children English at school.

Apologies. I got a little overexcited about South Korea’s near-obsession with robots. And completely off topic. Aside from Japan and Korea, countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are right up to par, technologically speaking, with the rest of the developed world.

However, what is the demand for programmers in these places? Are universities pumping (CS, IT and the like) students out at such high rates that there are not loads of career openings? And what about other Asian nations that are less advanced–is there a growing need for computer and technology geniuses? More importantly, are countries able to produce enough homegrown talent, or are they looking elsewhere like the US?

I, clearly, do not have the answer. And I have a feeling that the situation may be quite different and complex from country-to-country in Far East and Southeast Asia. Therefore, I hope to focus on finding answers to the questions posed above over the next several weeks. And along the way I am certain more questions will arise.


Image Credit (1) – Baby looking at computer via Pixaby

Image Credit (2) – Screen shot I took myself via Udacity