What Will Draw Them to IT?: Ethnographic research to explore how an IT career path gets started

Inspiring Success - A blog from Creating IT Futures

What Will Draw Them to IT?: Ethnographic research to explore how an IT career path gets started

Feb 20, 2013
YouthStockPhotoThe new research will try to understand
what triggers urban youth to aim for tech
careers.
The “T” in STEM stands for technology. But even with more emphasis these days on STEM education, there still isn’t a good understanding of what triggers some students — and not others — to move toward technology careers.

The Creating IT Futures Foundation wants to shed a bit more light on this hot issue by kicking off a research study that digs deep into urban high school student attitudes about a tech career path. Creating IT Futures is especially interested in what would motivate teens who aren’t the highest academic performers to consider a career in IT, as well as what would attract more girls, African-Americans and Latinos to the fast-growing IT industry.

“We know that many successful IT workers found their calling through pathways different from a four-year college,” said Charles Eaton, the Foundation’s executive director. “We aren’t going to be able to fill the skills gap in IT if we don’t widen the talent pool. We need to make a technology career relevant to the young person who doesn’t believe they are a good fit, either because they don’t have confidence in their academic skills or they don’t see anyone who looks like them in IT jobs.”

Creating IT Futures has hired Doyle Research to conduct qualitative interviews with several 15-18 year-olds, parents, and established IT professionals in order to uncover key ways in which learning or experiential programs might nudge more young people toward IT careers.

"We really need to look at those watershed moments in a young person’s life when technology isn’t just something they utilize as a consumer."Charles Eaton, Creating IT Futures Foundation Executive Director
“We think that filling the IT worker pipeline is part of our job, and we really need to look at those watershed moments in a young person’s life when technology isn’t just something they utilize as a consumer, but that also appears to them as a viable livelihood,” Eaton explained. “Once we have that knowledge in hand, we’ll begin to deploy programs that can leverage that data and share our findings with educators, corporations and non-profits that we hope can help us move the tech career needle forward.”

Creating IT Futures is looking for companies that would like to co-sponsor the research. The research, set to begin in March and culminate over the summer, is sure to garner a lot of national attention, said Eaton.

“Our country is far behind other industrialized nations in terms of students choosing tech careers, and the IT industry has struggled to attract the work force it needs to continue to expand at a fast rate,” Eaton said. “There are hundreds of nonprofit groups, education systems, private companies, and government entities vexed by this problem, so we believe there will be a lot of sharing of data that this research generates.”  

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Creating IT Futures

A 501(c)(3) charity was established in 1998 by CompTIA, the Information Technology Industry Trade Association, as a way to help people improve their lives through IT careers.

Mission

We help populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in IT careers.

Contact

Creating IT Futures
c/o CompTIA
3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Phone: (630) 678-8300
Email: info@creatingitfutures.org