According to a Computing Technology Industry Association analysis, nearly 240,000 new tech jobs were created in the U.S. in July of this year alone. Information technology (IT) has added 143,700 jobs so far in 2022, an increase of 55 percent year-over-year. The CompTIA now estimates the tech jobs unemployment rate at just 1.7 percent, below what is considered full employment.
The net-net is that anyone can get a tech job these days, and plenty of people want one. After all, software engineers, developers and architects are consistently ranked among the top professions in the country, each averaging in excess of US$100,000 per year in major cities. And there is a wide range of other tech jobs as well that require a variety of skills and personality types. That’s why it’s essential for educators to carefully inquire about expectations as well as why students want to code – besides the obvious monetary rewards.
For example, a trauma nurse dropped out of our software development boot camp at the end of the first two weeks; he simply could not see himself sitting in front of a computer all day for a living. If you don’t have the right support and the right mindset, you may find it hard to get through a few weeks of coding.
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Educators set the expectations and hold the keys to the castle. When assessing applicants, we should pay particular attention to the human element, not just technical know-how. Soft skills are too often overlooked in tech. Yet, software engineers need to have empathy in order to understand things like who is going to be the end user; they must also be business-minded in order to communicate with someone who is not a technologist – someone who doesn’t know how to build what they’re being asked to build. On the other hand, a job like cybersecurity analyst may not need
Of course, with 11 million jobs available in the U.S., anyone can theoretically get work where they want. But as we know, the tech shortage is largely for experienced developers. Everyone wants a senior developer, but to be senior, you have to be junior first. A growing problem in many companies is that they don’t have anyone to provide the management or supervision, even if a school or certification program like ours provides someone who is great at coding.
Many employers now understand that thinking in terms of senior and junior levels is short-sighted because both are ultimately needed. It’s the difference between needing an architect to determine where the pipes should connect and needing someone to fix your toilet. The senior-level engineer who creates the infrastructure is not necessarily the person who is going to make the fix. There will be lots of plumbers required, and they should be trained and integrated however and wherever possible.
Post-Covid, millions of people now realize they can get some level of technology skills. We should encourage them and show them how to operate at the intersection of technology and what businesses need. The managed-services sector will continue to grow, and there will be many additional opportunities for jobs as well as huge opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Recognizing this, big tech companies have been offering certifications for years, but they tend to become gatekeepers and build roadblocks to learning about competing products. And today, you need the experience of how to integrate platforms and interrelate.
The good news is that the burgeoning demand for tech jobs is already creating more flexibility. For example, big tech has now realized that a four-year university degree doesn’t necessarily mean you have the skills needed to become a software developer. Some large employers who have been hiring four-year grads only to immediately enroll them in their own advanced learning program are now adding bootcamp graduates to the mix, allowing those with aptitude, drive and grit to bypass a university education altogether.
The point is that continual education is the key for anyone to get a job in tech and have a successful professional career. Anyone with the right personal skills – and with the right training and some mentorship, of course – should find success.
Yes, experience matters, though not necessarily the kind you might imagine. We find that people who have gone through challenges in life have made terrific tech employees because coding challenges are overcome with exactly the same qualities as any others: resiliency, persistence, focus, empathy and curiosity.
Ron Kishen is the Head of Schools for CodeBoxx Academy.
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