To Stop or Not to Stop the Technology Brain Drain
I was email a blog entitled Stopping the Technology Brain Drain by our Marketing department which I felt the need to comment. At the risk of being contrary, I'm somewhat pro-outsourcing...you know, being as how I'm basically an outsourced employee. :)
For what it's worth, I think it does come down to encouraging children at a young age to understand technology, not just use it. As soon as you can show a kid that they can make their computer do something it couldn't do before (and that they can actually make it do almost anything they can dream of if they put their mind to it), then if they have the kind of brain that is suited to programming they'll be hooked. I wrote my first program at about age 7 and haven't stopped coding since. Of course, you still need to encourage and support them along they way - as with the guy who wrote that article, I've heard stories of people actively discouraging IT careers in their kids who show an interest (especially girls), which is utterly insane. It's difficult enough to deal with the stigma that was attached to being a "computer nerd" at school (I think that's probably less bad now, though, than it was when I went through) - I don't know how to fix that; only to support kids so that it doesn't put them off.
Of course, the reverse also applies - there's no point in encouraging kids into IT who aren't interested - that path leads to people who pursue IT because "it's a good job to have" rather than because they have a genuine interest and love of it. I can't tell you how many terrible programmers I've worked with and rejected in interviews who clearly got into programming because it was "good money" or whatever and never really "got" why people actually enjoy it.