For many years, prolific writers and wise scholars have used phrases to capture a known phenomenon where timing of two separate activities come together to produce a successful outcome. The phrase that I have used for the last twenty years or so is: At the intersection of capability and opportunity lies the road to success. Success is always defined by the opportunity, however the capability is defined by the preparation, the quality and the alignment of individual people taking action in order to meet the requirements of the opportunity.
I would like to use this message to describe what this phrase means in the context of the IT-oLogy mission of advancing IT talent and closing the IT skills gap in this country.
In order to see that this preparation and capability building by an individual is directly correlated to certain levels of opportunity and is best described as a scaled continuum. For the sake of following the examples we’ll use a scale from 0-30, where 0 represents an individual (student or adult) who knows nothing at all about information technology and 30 represents the pinnacle of a career in the profession (Chief Information Officer or Chief Digital Office).
These 3 examples are somewhere between 0-5 on the continuum
Example 1 – a student comes to an IT-oLogy camp or Cyber Saturday and learns how to take a PC apart and put it back together and make it work. Then when an opportunity come at home or at school, the student seizes the opportunity and has the confidence to potentially solve the problem.
Example 2 – a person comes to a 3D printing workshop delivered by IT-oLogy and they 3 learn 3 things. They learn design and innovation, they learn it takes software to drive the printer and they actually produce tangible output. Then when the next problem arises that takes critical thinking, the person knows how to think it through.
Example 3 – a student or adult participates in the hour of code, developed by Code.org and facilitated by IT-oLogy and at various levels, they learn how to write software code. This is like learning a language to communicate with computers, with the digital world. The confidence building and the power of knowing software drives business prepares them for a detailed assignment in computing.
The next examples are somewhere between 5-10 on the continuum.
As high school students pick carer pathways, they now have multiple tracts that line up with categories of IT jobs and occupations and allows for some focused areas of study. This can also be true as adult career changers use IT-oLogy Cyber Studio to determine their aptitude and areas of interest and continue skill building, including writing complete programs or smartphone apps. The opportunity is that credit, certification and credentials are developed prior to entering higher ed or applying for that first job.
The next examples are between 10-15 on the continuum.
Whether an individual enrolls in a Computer Science or IT degree program or just takes the courses in IT-oLogy’s CoursePower 18 hour minor in Applied Computing, the next level of capability is underway and more fully recognized by business partners looking for IT related skills. This step is the basic building block for hands on opportunities like work based projects and meaningful summer internships. Individuals with portfolios of capability place their resume out on IT-oLogy’s IT-Gateway and gain reach to companies across the country posting their entry level jobs and internships expecting greater pools of talent available through their involvement in the IT-oLogy consortium.
The next examples are between 15-20 on the continuum.
The maturity process continues and some candidates begin to pursue developing innovative technology idea with others. Many at this stage in the continuum get connected with a mentor from industry and potentially become a mentor to high school students in a near-pier program like IT-oLogy and the STARS program. Also at this stage, more and more individuals choosing IT as a career may find themselves recruited to become part of an apprenticeship program.
The next scenarios are somewhere between 20-25 on the continuum.
When individuals apply for full time entry level positions in the IT profession, they use the preparation from being IT-oLogists and graduates with real world experience, and meet or exceed the criteria employers are looking for in a qualified workforce, thereby reducing startup costs and improving time to productivity. Let us not forget that these IT jobs are some of the highest paying jobs and that the demand is significant. Everyone involved benefits from the improved supply chain process.
As maturity occurs in the profession, some will start companies of their and certainly advancement is the norm for those in the IT profession. IT-oLogy helps ensure that people stagy current by delivering programs and support for companies, user groups, other organizations.
These final examples are found with the experienced IT professional staying current and continuing to achieve new levels of success in their career and are between 25-30 on the continuum.
Examples are promotions to leadership roles and gaining highly specialized technical roles, possibly managing an IT area and equipping themselves to be in line for an executive position in IT. IT-oLogy delvers conferences and Executive education to fuel this type of advancement in the IT profession.
The CALL to ACTION is simple. Participate in the process and seize the opportunities by being prepared and equipped and connected through IT-oLogy to recognize the possibilities when they come along. For employers, the return on investment in supporting and engaging in this process is recognized in hiring metrics, marketing and visibility for the company, but most importantly in the successful delivery of on time, high quality IT solutions.
IT-oLogy President, Lonnie Emard