In an increasingly technological world, computer science is an unlikely field to be going out of fashion.
But the number of NSW students studying IT and software design for the HSC has shrunk rapidly over the past decade, prompting fears from companies like Google and Australia's chief scientist of a shortfall of workers in the sector.
Last year, 3334 year 12 students studied information processes and technology, which is just a third of the cohort of 10 years earlier. Over the same period, the number of students taking software design and development dropped from 3730 to 1829.
Those working in the sector attribute the drain to the profession's ''image problem'', as well as a backlash from the dotcom crash at the turn of the century.
''When you ask students what they think of IT, I've been told they've all got in mind some nerdy person they've seen on TV who can work wonders with a laptop and doesn't have a life,'' said Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb.
The industry is projected to grow by more than 33,000 workers, or 7 per cent, between 2012 and 2017. Yet the supply of computer science graduates is falling.
Professor Chubb says some of the big technology companies are already reporting difficulties recruiting graduates. ''I suspect that undoubtedly is going to be a growing problem,'' he said. ''Because the demands are much more likely to increase more rapidly than the capacity to supply. And these are long pipelines.''
''Could we hire more if they were there?'' asks Google Australia's head of engineering, Alan Noble. ''The answer is absolutely yes we could.''
In the coming weeks, year 10 students will be asked to select their HSC subjects. And Mr Noble is keen to push the message that ''computer science is today's version of a law degree''.
''If you believe that software will continue to be a huge part of society then these are the skills that will be required to essentially build the products of the future,'' he said.
''It ticks so many boxes in terms of flexibility and opportunities. And at risk of stating the obvious, the jobs pay well.''
The claim is backed up by the latest GradStats report, which found the median starting salary for ICT graduates last year was $52,500, putting it above professions like accounting and vet science and alongside law.
Employment outcomes are also strong, with 75 per cent of computer science graduates and 80 per cent of electronic and computer engineering graduates securing full-time employment upon completing their courses. That compares to 83 per cent for law graduates.
The government's 2013 ICT workforce study found a substantial increase in the domestic supply of ICT specialists will be required, as Australia competes with emerging economies for this skilled labour.
Part of the solution could be encouraging more women into the male-dominated sector.
Among those helping to make that shift are 15 young women who gathered at Google HQ in Sydney on Friday, as finalists for a scholarship aimed at encouraging more women into the field.
When Tiffany Leung decided to study a bachelor of science in IT at UTS, many, including her father, tried to deter her.
''I think it's society's idea about what girls should do and when you go against convention people really do challenge you.
''I've got a creative side and a technical side and IT really does give you an opportunity to play around with both.''