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April 11, 2020

Why IT Training Remains a Strong Investment for Talent Development Dollars

In trying times like the current national crisis, many people for varied reasons are considering their career options more closely than ever.


Just as many organizations spread across diverse industries are weighing best ways to spend talent development dollars more heavily than ever.


In their Technologist Talk podcast debut, Mark Plunkett and Jason Mangold of CompTIA Custom Training make the case for individuals contemplating career transitions and organizations pondering workforce development investments to keep IT training high on their lists of options – especially when courses can be delivered by instructors virtually, an option their group offers.


Despite difficult times, the potential benefits of tech careers remain promising for businesses, state or regional economies – and most important of all – the workers in their local communities.


In this excerpt from our award-winning podcast program, Plunkett and Mangold tell Technologist Talk host and CompTIA columnist R.C. “Bob” Dirkes how – in any times, tough or otherwise – their team’s mission is narrowing the IT skills gap for all types of people and organizations in need – corporations, government entities, state and national workforce boards, and non-profits – across industries, and our nation.


Here's an edited transcript of their conversation:


Mark Plunkett: So, we really need to train individuals from other industries, or really find ways to attract the youth, and we really need new ways of upskilling and educating individuals to be able to take these jobs… getting flexible and creative in terms of how we build these training programs, training offerings, and going out to new areas.


Our role is to lead with that, to engage with the tech industry… provide innovative solutions in order to get more people the skills that they need to be able to get a job, get a foot in the door within some of the large corporations that we work with through our certifications.


Many large tech organizations, the likes of Dell, Intel, Google, IBM, and others … They utilize our certifications for their job ads.


Jason Mangold: One of the big focuses throughout the U.S. [economy] is: How do we serve the harder to serve communities, right? And so, what we're tasked with quite a bit is how do we get more women into tech? How do we get folks off of [programs] like SNAP and TANF benefits?


That's where this is really needed, because we have the ability to go and create customized programs that can fit those needs and get people to work in a shorter period of time.


Mark: A lot of what we do is consult with workforce leaders and boards around the country, and we're often driven into rural areas because individuals aren't getting the opportunity to gain the skills needed to get a successful job.


So, a flexible approach, a customized approach to bring in trainers to deliver it in areas that perhaps aren’t being serviced effectively is a key component as well. We're not designed to compete with academia or the training partners that we have out in the field. But it's really to complement a different solution that goes in and really builds something from soup to nuts.


We understand: What does the industry need? What are employers asking for? Where are the open jobs? We scale that to build a solution that really meets the need. And that could be over 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks… 16 weeks. It could include different certifications. We could take individuals on a cybersecurity track, taking them from an introduction into IT, all the way through to cybersecurity. It could be focused on infrastructure.


[We ask] What is the goal of the customer that we have? Whether that's a city, whether it's a workforce board, whether it's a corporation. It’s actually building that solution that meets the need of the organization and also appeals to the individual… Do we want to do it virtually? Virtual, online instructor-led training is a growing desire within the U.S.


Bob: I hear three themes in your comments so far.


First, I hear you talking outreach. Reaching out to groups that maybe need a boost to have an opportunity to engage in the tech workforce.


Second, I hear you talking adaptability to serve across industries. What you do has to be adaptable.


And third, I hear you stressing speed. If we intend to close a skills gap in the U.S. workforce, or any gap in our economy for that matter, the faster we do it, the better.


Jason: I believe… everyone needs to have access to our certifications, and they have to have access to getting into these jobs, right? …We're giving individual [workers] a way to do that at no cost [to them.]


There also need to be alternate pathways to education, traditional education. We all know that a [college] degree is not for everyone. We have students that may have gone through high school, and they didn't do great in high school. But they were still good at math. Or they may have been good at other things.


We have to give them a route that is beyond them just going to college and going through that same cycle again…  And that's the feel-good of all of this… is being able to help that group with support.


Mark: If we're going to build the [talent] pipelines and shorten the skills gap, then we really need to break down the barriers, or the perceived barriers, to a career in tech….


We've got tons of those stories, where it's really had a direct impact on an individual's ability to get a job, to flourish in their career, to get a foot in the door with, whether it's a large multinational or a small, medium business. …These skills are transferable. They mean something. They're recognized out in industry. And if we can play a part… to help to change people's lives, then that's a great place to be.


Technologist Talk is an award-winning podcast produced by Creating IT Futures, CompTIA’s tech workforce charity, where we talk to business leaders, workforce professionals and talent developers about shaping the careers of today’s and tomorrow’s technology workers.


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