It’s no secret that Fresno County as a whole is suffering when it comes to employment rates and projected job growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has us at a 17.3 percent unemployment rate, and our growth is much lower than the expected rates for the rest of the states.
Those of us in the computer-related fields (computer science, computer engineering and information technology, specifically) are being hit just as hard as anyone else, perhaps more so.
In a recent article published by The Collegian, we saw what job growth looked like for software development in Fresno County. What we saw was both shocking and disheartening for many of us.
Three hundred and ninety software development jobs will be added in Fresno County, not next year, not in five years, but in 10 years.
That’s 39 jobs a year, not for Fresno, but for Fresno County as a whole.
The message seems clear: if you want a job in software development or some related computer field, get out of Fresno after graduation and never look back.
There are many areas in California, such as San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where we’d be better off, because there will actually be jobs for us in those places. I’m sure this is a problem people face regardless what their major is.
Personally, I don’t mind moving somewhere else, but I know a lot of my friends and classmates want to stay local. That’s one of the many reasons why the Computer Science Club exists.
We’ve only been around one semester, but we’re taking steps to get the community more interested in our field and get people internships and real world experiences. Many of our members recently participated in an event called GiveCamp, where we created programs for charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Currently, we are participating in 59 Days of Code, a competition for local programmers. Perhaps most importantly, we’re focusing on outreach to local companies to help students get jobs during their time at Fresno State or right after their graduation.
Why is it that interest in computer-related technology is so low in Fresno County?
There are several factors of course, but a large contributor to the issue is the lack of opportunities for high school students. Nobody in the Clovis or Fresno Unified School Districts had the chance to take computer programming courses, unless they attended the Center for Advance Research and Technology (CART) in Clovis.
How can kids get interested in this growing field when they aren’t exposed to it?
The club is hoping to do some outreach to local high schools and recruit more of them into Fresno State’s computer science program. By increasing local interest and enrollment in technology fields, we might be able to convince more and more companies to recruit and hire out of Fresno County.
Moving away from our friends and family to seek employment is an issue that many of us are dealing with at Fresno State. Do we risk not getting a job in the field that we wanted, or do we distance ourselves from friends and family for the sake of a better paycheck?
There are no easy answers, but if the Computer Science Club has shown anything, it’s that if you want to stay local you can do something about it.
Tyler Standridge is the vice president of the Computer Science Club.