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Tech-based research must for nation to remain in IT world-Study

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New York, Feb 26 (UNI) Educational policy and investment in research and development are critical elements for countries seeking to stay competitive in today's global environment in the information technology sector, according to a study.

This new study was done by the New York-based Association for Computing Machinery -- a group of noted computer scientists, industry leaders, labour economists and social scientists.

It acknowledged that global competition in higher-end technology-based skills such as research is increasing.

It said policies designed to improve a country's ability to attract, educate and retain the best IT talent are necessary to foster innovation and remain competitive in the present-day world.

The study, titled ''Globalization and Offshoring of Software,'' noted that globalisation trends in the software industry have been fueled by rapid advances in information technology itself as well as government action and economic factors.

''We changed the world, and now it is changing us'' said Moshe Y Vardi, Co-chairman of the study group, and Director of the Computer and Information Technology Institute at Rice University.

He cited the wide availability of low-cost, high-bandwidth telecommunications and standardised software platforms and applications as well as digitalisation of work processes as driving factors.

''But we also have identified the keys to continued innovation and invention, which will sustain competitiveness in this global environment,'' he added.

With a comprehensive approach, it considered nearly a dozen case studies of diverse firms facing offshoring challenges. The study team members conducted an extensive review of available data and literature on offshoring and outsourcing, and heard in-person accounts from many international experts.

The study found that, despite intensifying competition, offshoring between developed and developing countries can benefit both parties.

It cited data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which indicates that more IT jobs are available today in the United States than at the height of the dot-com boom.

This trend is evident despite a significant increase in offshoring over the past five years. In fact, America's IT employment in 2004 was 17 per cent higher than in 1999, and the BLS data reveal that IT jobs are predicted to be among the fastest-growing occupations over the next decade.

Daniel T Ling, corporate Vice-President for Microsoft Research, cited the report's confirmation that the United States faces long-term challenges from falling interest and skills in mathematics and science subjects in its primary education system.

He said, ''The perception that employment opportunities in software and related technologies are vanishing has led to a significant drop in enrollment in IT educational programmes, which will in turn lead to shortages in highly trained and qualified professionals in the future. '' ''This report helps to raise awareness of the realities that face industry, students, educators and policy makers, and is important reading to advance the discussion of these issues.'' The study concluded that the future depends on the nation's commitment to acknowledging the challenges of the global environment.

The brightness of the future for individuals, companies, or countries, rests on their ability to invest in building the foundations that foster innovation and invention, the report said.

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