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Five Ways We Can Prepare the Next Generation of Workers for Tomorrow’s Technology

- September 30, 2014 - 0 Comments

Consider this: Many of today’s top jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago – jobs like app developers, social media managers, and cloud computing administrators. By 2018, it’s predicted that there will be 21 billion networked devices and connections globally. The Internet of Everything (IoE) will bring it all together, but it’s people that will make the connections possible.

The good news… the digital age is creating millions of information technology (IT) job opportunities for people. The bad news… we aren’t developing IT talent fast enough to keep up with the pace of demand.

A ManpowerGroup study shows that in the Americas, 39 percent of employers report hiring challenges caused by IT talent shortages. Acute shortages were reported by employers in Brazil, India, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan, where that number skyrockets to 85 percent.

These numbers show that career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are more plentiful than ever. Unfortunately in the U.S., many students lack foundational STEM skills, as shown by a recent Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education report.

How do we shrink this divide between supply and demand for IT talent?

  1. Create More Ways to Learn
    Massive open online courses (MOOCs) make acquiring new job skills faster, cheaper, and more convenient. Udacity, together with AT&T, launched the nanodegree – compact, job-focused credentials that you can earn in 6-12 months. Nonprofits like Science Buddies, Gooru Learning, and Khan Academy offer free online learning around the world. Cisco expands educational opportunity through its Cisco Networking Academy program, delivered worldwide online through Cisco NetSpace.
  2. Join Forces with Others
    STEMconnector is the first national effort to identify, inventory, and analyze STEM programs across the U.S. Since its launch three years ago, 147 partners have joined the alliance, 6000 STEM organizations have been profiled on stemconnector.org, and 1 million students interested in STEM careers have been mapped to jobs.
  3. Give Veterans a Chance
    The shortage of qualified IT talent creates unique potential for our military veterans. Today’s businesses need workers with leadership skills, the ability to learn quickly and work under pressure, combined with a strong work ethic and commitment. Nothing could be more fitting than a veteran returning to the workforce, and over 1 million armed forces personnel will transition from military to civilian life in the next few years. Cisco’s investments in the Futures, Inc. Pipeline job-matching platform help veterans find training, credentialing, and job opportunities.
  4. Keep Up with Change
    With advances in technology come new, in-demand career paths. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for information security analysts will increase by 36.5 percent over the next 10 years. To prepare people to adapt to an evolving marketplace, we must help them develop skills that will be valued in tomorrow’s economy.
  5. Address Society’s Greatest Needs
    Nonprofit organizations like City Year, AmeriCorps, Teach For America, and the Peace Corps give young, socially aware people real-world experience by allowing them to devote one year or more to supporting schools and other civic organizations. While serving their communities, they learn vital communications, problem-solving, and leadership skills. According to a report by Voices for National Service, these skills make them more likely to be employed and to earn higher salaries over their lifetimes. And young people want to complete national service. In 2011, AmeriCorps received 580,000 applications for only 80,000 positions. Clearly, we need to create more service opportunities.

While some paint a picture of dire consequences when it comes to the growing bridge between IT workforce needs and IT workforce readiness, it’s really a map of possibilities. These days, we literally have the whole world in our hands – through our computers, our smartphones, and our tablets. It is certainly within our reach to connect human potential with our technology future.

Watch this blog and follow Cisco CSR on Twitter as we continue to discuss ways to multiply impact and bring positive change to our ever-changing world.

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