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April 3, 2018

Columnist’s Corner: Busting 7 Myths About Tech Careers

Opinion: 7 Busted Tech Myths Scaring Teens Away from Tech

By Charles Eaton


A recent survey from CompTIA, one of the world’s largest technology associations, shows that nearly half of the 600 IT and business executives polled said skills shortcomings within their organizations had grown during the past two years.


While these skill gaps widened in a variety of domains—marketing, sales, business development, accounting and finance, etc.—perhaps none of these deficits is as troubling as the one in the IT realm.


Iabout_staff_charlesn brief, some analysts say at least half a million open IT positions are going unfilled. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts IT occupations will grow 10 percent by 2026, when many existing tech professionals will begin retiring. In combination, these factors could create a national tech talent deficient with negative consequences for workers, employers and our entire economy.


Creating IT Futures believes teens and tweens are a key part of the solution to this looming crisis because they already make up a quarter of the US population and will account for more than 20 percent of the workforce in the next five years. Plus, our research indicates many in this group have the temperament to become more than technicians who write software and make hardware; they will be technologists—people working with technology of varied types in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries.


Workers with a technologist’s mindset, which optimally blends hard technical skills and relationship acumen (often called “soft skills”), are well-suited for today’s fast-paced, continuously evolving digital business environment.


However, there are issues at work that confound and complicate the task of raising the next generation of technologists. Seven myths about technology careers discourage potential technologists and their parents. In my positon as the leader of a philanthropic organization dedicated to creating on-ramps to tech careers, I consider busting those myths not only a duty, but a pleasure.


I’ve worked with Recruiter Today to take down seven of the most common misconceptions keeping teens away from the tech workforce:


Myth No.1:  “Technology is all about coding, math, and science.”


Yes, solid grades in those subjects certainly won’t hurt any aspiring student’s chances of finding a position, but for a technologist, they only tell part of the story.


Myth No.2:  “Tech Jobs always require a four-year degree.”


The traditional route to earning a computer science degree isn’t as narrow as many might expect, and, even then, a four-year degree isn’t a guarantee of success.


Myth No.3:  “If it’s not a Facebook or Google, it’s not a technology job.”


There’s no Silicon Valley required for a tech job. Technologist positions exist in almost every organization around the world.


Myth No.4:  “A tech career means being stuck at a desk.”


Technology is growing and developing all over the world and stretches far beyond what can be displayed on a desktop monitor.


Myth No.5:  “Money is the main benefit of a tech job.”


Many tech jobs pay well, but today’s teens care about more than economic gain. Tech role models show teens how their careers could make a positive impact on their communities.


Myth No.6:  “My kids won’t listen to me.”


The results of our studies confirm an important finding: Teens do listen to their parents.


Myth No.7:  “Tech jobs are going overseas.”


Global economic ups and downs don’t change the big picture: plenty of tech jobs are being created in the US.


If we as mentors from the business world can clear these seven persistent myths from the minds of teens and parents today, they will be closing the tech employment gap for us tomorrow.


Charles Eaton, CEO of Creating IT Futures and Executive Vice President of Social Innovation for CompTIA, will contribute to Recruiter Today on a regular basis in 2018. Follow him on Twitter at @FoundationEaton.


Please also follow @RecruiterToday, @AdvisingCareers and @TinSTEMbook for updates on tech myths, careers and other stories about the NextUp generation.