A new CompTIA survey shows that while more teens are interested in tech careers, there’s a lack of mentors to inspire them. The group’s NextUp Initiative looks to help solve that problem.
Interest in tech careers is rising among teens, but many don’t have a role model to help grow that interest. That’s according to a recent CompTIA report “Youth Opinions of Careers in Information Technology.”
The survey of 1,006 teenagers in the 13-17 age bracket found that seven out of 10 are open to a future career in tech, but only 33 percent of boys and 24 percent of girls know someone who works in the tech field.
“The needle hasn’t really moved with kids knowing people—whether it’s older siblings, whether it’s parents, family members, neighbors, friends, whatever—that hasn’t changed too much,” said Steven Ostrowski, director of corporate communications at CompTIA. “So, they don’t really have firsthand access to people who are actually in the business, which can make it challenging because what we’ve found over the years is that having an adult mentor—someone you can talk to, someone you can bounce questions off of—is one of the best ways for them to get information about what a career in technology entails.”
To help fill that gap, CompTIA is using its NextUp initiative to conenct teens with the mentors and resources they need to spur passion for tech careers.
“NextUp was created to introduce teens to the many possibilities of technology careers,” said Charles Eaton, CompTIA’s executive vice president for social innovation and CEO of Creating IT Futures, in a press release. ” Through curricula, projects, partnerships, and mentorship, we aim to tap into their passion for technology, spark their curiosity, and build a generation of technologists for tomorrow. Our CompTIA volunteers mentor students in hands-on STEM projects, while sharing why they love their careers.”
CompTIA has also partnered with other likeminded organizations to better engage with teams. These include FUSE, a Northwestern University project that’s expanding STEAM learning for middle school and high school students, and TechGirlz, which provides hands-on workshops and summer camps to middle school girls. The Technology Student Association, made up of 250,000 students in 38 states who go head-to-head each spring in team-based STEM competitions, is another partner.
“The intent was rather than us trying to create something from scratch, let’s team up with somebody who’s doing good work already and give them some additional resources, so they can extend their footprint and their outreach,” Ostrowski said.
Still, CompTIA is encouraged that interest in the tech field is perking up. That’s “a very, very good thing, because we’ve got a very sizeable gap coming up here currently in the next five to 10 years, in terms of jobs that are going to be open, and not enough people to fill them,” Ostrowski said.