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The Battle to Fill IT Jobs

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By Allan Holmes March 26, 2007

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It's no secret that government agencies and the contractors that work for them find it hard to attract young workers with information technology skills. Another reminder of just why appeared in an article in today's Washington Post.

The newspaper interviews Michael Gagnon, a 23-year-old George Mason University student who works at a Fairfax, Va., research lab, about job opportunities he is considering. Although the Post cites stats that show the Washington, D.C., area as a haven for IT workers, halfway through the article Gagnon talks about how he is likely to turn down the many software development and programming jobs he has been offered in Washington (the jobs "bore him," he says) in favor of a job-scholarship package at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he can focus on information security. Gagnon says his classmates, who also are sifting through many job offers from local companies, are considering leaving because "they are also looking for 'more innovative work,'" the Post quotes Gagnon saying. "I don't think people like me will stay here if they aren't offered as stimulating opportunities as there are elsewhere," Gagnon told the Post.

For years, the federal government has found it a challenge to attract and keep young talent because of varying reasons, threatening federal programs and the innovation needed to support them. The Washington Monthly reported on some of those reasons back in 2000.

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