It’s not just the video-game industry that’s scrambling to hire computer-science graduates. UBC lecturer Kimberly Voll says that all industries are suffering from the shortage. “We’re not getting as many people through our doors as we should be,” she said at a recent showcase of games developed by UBC undergrads, “and we’re not able to fill the jobs that are out there.” Students from UBC’s program are routinely hired by companies like Google and Microsoft, Voll noted, at starting salaries as high as $100,000 annually. “They are clamouring to get our graduates.”
Part of the problem is the lingering stereotype of computer science being the bailiwick of people living in their parents’ basements. “We’re a very rich and varied discipline,” Voll explained. “These are rich, creative, wonderful people.” And because computers now affect every part of our lives, computer science can connect to nearly every field imaginable, from entertainment to health to finance, which means that students can almost build their own degree path within the computer-science department. “It’s very powerful,” Voll said.
But that ubiquity is also why the general public takes for granted computers and the people who program them, according to Voll. “These are the jobs that are building the infrastructure of absolutely everything we do,” Voll said.