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Business and Tech Education

It Takes Confidence to Close the Skills Gap

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Todd Thibodeaux

President and Chief Executive Officer, CompTIA

You hear a lot about the skills gap from employers. They can’t find people with the skills they need to do the jobs they need done. That deficit is real and growing. But any motivated individual can acquire these skills if employers are willing to provide the training necessary to get motivated individuals where they need them to be.

The bigger issue centers on confidence, or rather, a lack of confidence. Confidence is a great thing. Having it allows you to open your mind to learning which brings new opportunities and new experiences. A lack of confidence causes you to shut down, lose faith, and close yourself off to the same opportunities and experiences.

Confidence gap

This confidence gap is the main reason we see a lack of diversity, both ethnic and gender-based, in the tech industry workforce. The confidence gap keeps potentially qualified and motivated individuals from even considering certain fields, with technology at the forefront. Consider these findings from CompTIA’s 2018 report “Role of Confidence Gap in Tech Career Development.”

  • Seven in 10 individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 cited confidence as a factor that contributes to discouragement, which may hinder or thwart altogether someone from pursuing a career in technology.
  • Less than half (44 percent) reported receiving encouragement from someone in their life to pursue a career in tech.
  • One-half said that concerns over their perceived deficiencies in math and science skills left them underprepared for a job in tech.

Beyond STEM

For too long now, we’ve been telling kids about STEM and about how all the best jobs of the future will require STEM degrees. That rhetoric couldn’t be farther from the truth. The vast majority of good, paying jobs in the next 30 years not only won’t require a STEM degree, but a huge number of them, if employers are willing to open the door to non-traditional candidates, won’t require a four-year degree of any kind.

STEM has so brainwashed kids and parents into believing you need to be a math and science genius to work in the tech industry, that you need to have coding skills or that if you’re not good at “computational thinking,” you don’t have a chance. Don’t believe it! It’s not true! What we need to be doing is telling kids and parents that anyone can work in the tech industry.

Programs for success

Our charitable foundation, Creating IT Futures, proves our case every day. The program provides a free eight-week course of study on technical skills and knowledge with a healthy dose of soft skills and professional development. In the course of eight weeks, lives are changed forever and employers couldn’t be happier with the results.

One of the first steps to bridging the confidence gap is talking to students and prospective workers in plain and simple terms about tech: communicating all the places and ways the skills can be acquired. Telling them about what the jobs really entail. Making sure they understand working in tech means working for any size company in virtually any industry. It’s not about engineering, coding, calculus, and Silicon Valley. It’s about customer service, teamwork, curiosity, communication, and problem solving.

The tech industry is on the verge of a massive new wave of innovation, from the Internet of Things to smart cities and autonomous vehicles to artificial intelligence and machine learning. We’re seeing advances in renewable energy, bionics, robotics, and health care. These advancements and innovations will change virtually every walk of life. Magnifying their impact will require millions of skilled new techs to make it work. And while it’s absolutely true that some companies will need a higher proportion of very highly skilled people, it doesn’t mean every company needs that, and it certainly doesn’t mean every tech job does.

Todd Thibodeaux, President and Chief Executive Officer, CompTIA, [email protected]

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