To be a collaborative partnership among education and employers that will identify high demand IT skills needed in our region and develop education pathways strategies to help increase the pipeline of students entering IT careers.
Accomplishments to date are in three specific areas: employer and education survey development, interviews with employers and educators, and data gathering.
The objective of the employer survey is to understand the current and future job positions, and skills and challenges regarding attracting and training an IT workforce. Survey questions include background questions on number of IT employees, percent hired inside and outside Indiana, where they recruit for IT talent, level of education needed for various job positions, specific position employers currently have, open positions and future needs, importance of non-technical workforce skills, and means of providing training. There is a section of questions on career development such as offering tuition reimbursement, internships, flexible work hours, and to identify work they do to promote education in STEM related fields.
The team identified over 30 employers in Region 9 to interview. Employers are from several industries: health care, manufacturing, banking, software development, casinos, technical services, and power companies. Preliminary data states that the number one need for Southeastern Indiana is broadband infrastructure and reliable internet. Other early findings include the need for resources with two year degrees and/or certifications in IT. Given the rate of change in technology in IT, certifications allow current employees to skill up meeting the new demands of the industry. One additional finding that is important to highlight is that employers need new employees who can communicate well, reason well, think logically, are curious and have problem solving sills. Once an individual learns how to program well, they can easily pick up additional languages, but not having the other skills will not make them as employable as those who do have those sills.
Two surveys were developed for our educators. One for K-12 schools and one for postsecondary educators. Here we are looking for an understanding of courses offered as well as some questions regarding attracting and training faculty. Some best practices found in the K-12 schools thus far that we recommend be shared amongst the other educators are: coding campus, cyber patriot competition, students acting as the Apple Care help desk, students co-teaching classes, PLTW courses in computer science, and career center with a troubleshooting program. Many discussions were held with faculty from Ivy Tech and Purdue Polytechnic. We are in the process of developing a certification map and a course to employment map.