Texas is number two in tech jobs across the country and according to CyberSeek, there are more than 46,000 open cyber jobs throughout the state (and over 500,000 cyber jobs nationwide). However, there are not enough people to fill them. On a recent webinar presented by the Texas Workforce Commission on Helping Texas Impacted by COVID-19, Mark Plunkett, CompTIA’s Senior Director, Training Operations & Business Development, discussed on-ramps for people in Texas to gain the skills they need to pursue a tech career.
With the shift to work from home there is an increased need for remote IT support. According to Cyberstates, there were over 398,000 tech occupation job postings in 2019 in Texas, with 64,820 of those being for IT Support Specialists. “The whole landscape is changing,” Plunkett stated. “It really revolves around new talent and upskilling individuals to take some of the open remote tech support, infrastructure and cyber roles and having scalable programs.”
He shared that CompTIA Custom Training provides a variety of on-ramps for learners to gain the skills they need to pursue a tech career and to be successful. These include customized virtual solutions, online instructor-led training, mentored learning approaches, and self-study options, all inclusive of interactive, fully comprehensive learning tools. These custom training programs are targeted toward unemployed, underemployed and displaced individuals, as well as veterans, by partnering with workforce development initiatives, corporations, academic institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations.
Currently, Plunkett says, there are some challenges with accessibility and connectivity, especially getting access to equipment in some rural areas. Ensuring that everyone can get the equipment and the ability to learn these skills to take advantage of the new landscape is key. While the shift to online training has been an adjustment for some, Plunkett stated research shows that an online class, if it is delivered with the same robustness and the same principles as in-person, can be more effective. Using interactive tools, labs and simulated environment, people can perform the task in the skillset.
“With all the programs we add in soft skills. It’s really important to have a blend of technical skills with soft skills because employers are looking for that combination,” Plunkett explained. “We are in interesting times with individuals who have been furloughed or unemployed. A lot of them have very strong customer service skills that could be transferrable into a tech career.”
CompTIA is no stranger to Texas, having worked in communities across the state. One of the most successful programs was with Workforce Solutions Borderplex in El Paso to upskill and train veterans and their spouses as well as career changers and other eligible people. In total 95 people were trained during the 12-week intensive program for certifying to 15 different tech and cyber job roles across five different certifications. Two-thirds of the graduates gained salaries between $57,000 and $110,000.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Plunkett. “Seeing the impact it has on individuals and the opportunities it opens up for them to potential employers and seeing them flourish.”