Charles Eaton, executive vice president of social innovation at CompTIA, shares his insight into IT workforce challenges and potential solutions.
What does the IT job market look like right now?
It continues to be very strong. We’re seeing on average somewhere around 5,000 new IT positions every quarter. And, last year, we saw more than 2.5 million. It’s a huge number, and at some point, you’re just fighting with other companies for employees. We need to do more to build that pipeline, especially as there are going to be about 800,000 IT workers retiring in the next six to seven years.
At SXSW, you hosted a panel on solving the skills gap. What interesting ideas arose?
We had a small software development company that was tired of being unable to compete for talent just based on salary. They also heard from software developers with experience that they wanted something purposeful, so they developed an apprenticeship system as a way to provide mission and purpose.
What initiatives does CompTIA have in the works?
One is called NextUp, and it is our effort to define the secret sauce in what would make a young person interested in pursuing continuing education toward a tech career. The research we did tells us that middle schoolers are dreamers, and we need to hit them at that moment, but you can’t just hit them with “Here’s a tech job.” It’s got to be through abstraction, hands-on projects, and it’s got to be with a mentor who shares why they love what they do—not about what they do, but why they love what they do.