Busting Myths about a Career in IT

As I was looking back at some of my earlier posts, I was amazed how we are still failing to attract enough new talent  to the IT industry - this post from over three years ago about the skills shortage in the UK, particularly caught my attention.

There are still many myths that we need to smash to help build the pipeline of people coming into our industry.

There are three common contradictions I see that prevent people selecting a job in our industry:

  1. All the jobs are in coding
  2. You need to be a STEM genius
  3. You need a four-year degree

Coding - Only 25% of the jobs are in coding, 75% are in infrastructure - in networking, cybersecurity, IT support, and database administration.

However, those looking at a career in IT hear a lot about coding and are not attracted to that role. Yet coding gets all the limelight and is assumed to represent the “T” in STEM.

There are many other options to choose from, in both the tech industry and working in a tech occupation role.

There are over 7.29m tech occupation jobs and 6.89m jobs in the tech industry. Over 49% of tech industry jobs are in tech occupations.

STEM Genius - You don't have to be a math and science genius to have a really great career in IT.

But what you do need are skills, industry recognized skills that are mapped to job roles that allow you to make an impact with your employer from day one. CompTIA’s vendor neutral certifications do exactly that.

Less knowledge and a more skills-based education system is what we require to improve the pipeline of students coming into our industry.

Four year Degree - The IT industry has changed drastically over recent years, and as a result a B.A. doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success.

A bachelor’s degree has typically served as the first step into a career in the IT industry, but today’s organizations demand a different mix of skills and experiences.

As a result, hiring leaders are increasingly focused on identifying candidates with specific talents, regardless of where they were acquired.

98 % of HR and hiring managers are willing to consider qualifications outside of college on an applicant’s resume.

When we took a closer look at the 92% of tech jobs that are advertised and listed as requiring a college degree, less than half that number, 40% actually,  need a college degree to carry out the role.

Even still, a majority of students and parents view a college degree as a necessary credential within the IT industry.

College will always be a beneficial opportunity for millions of students to hone their critical thinking and research skills, but skills and experience are the new currency for budding careers in technology.

So, at your next dinner party or your next networking meeting or conference, Bust those Myths!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

My Christmas Wish for Jobseekers

Nicholas with his siblings, Julia and Cody
Nicholas with his siblings, Julia and Cody

A big thank you to Teresa Varela-Lauper, another one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

My 19 year old son Nicholas dropped out of college last year.

He tried it, didn’t like it and didn’t know what to do next. I know many people who have succeeded in life without college…. however, for the most part the odds are stacked against him.

Unemployment rates triple for high school graduates compared to those with a 4 year college degree. Couple this with an income disparity when you think of the pool of jobs available without a college degree and it’s not a pretty picture. (Bureau of Labor Statistics and Pew Research)

What are we doing to encourage our young people to get into IT?  

And, how do we show our kids there are solid careers out there without requiring a 4 year degree?

How do we encourage change among businesses to hire and invest in these kids?

A career in technology will be a lifesaver for many….there is low unemployment, high demand for skilled workers and a mass of free training to encourage folks to start their careers here.

It’s my Christmas wish that our new U.S. administration will look at apprenticeship programs to help at risk employees learn new skills.

The UK has done an amazing job with this. Instead of talking about saving coal jobs, the better question is how can we re-skill these workers? How can we encourage businesses to take on that challenge and pay employees as they learn? Let’s look over the pond at a model that is working.

As for Nicholas, I’m happy to share he recently started an IT helpdesk program at Hunter Business School here on Long Island. This is a 15 month computer technician program where he will learn PC repair/installation, planning and maintenance and also earn his CompTIA A+ certification.

Let’s change the narrative for our future workers and ring in 2017 with technology apprenticeships.

Teresa Varela-LauperTeresa Varela-Lauper is Director of Business Development. She works with SMB and Fortune 1000 clients in the US who are looking to attract and retain good IT talent as well as promote a culture of innovation and productivity. She lives in the Greater New York City Area.





Uber Effective Communication

UberA big thank you to Mark Plunkett, one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

I count myself very lucky in my role at CompTIA to be able to travel and see some very interesting places in the world.

Recently, within a 5 week spell, I spent only 3 days in Chicago, where I now live. That was a little too extreme. I spent time in California, Seattle, Wisconsin, London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh.

Now these are all pretty different places, there is no doubt about that but I wanted to link them all in some way, and to be honest there are many similarities. One personal to me is that I used Uber in every country and city. As well as this, I managed to engage in some fantastic and interesting conversations with strangers in each place. This is something that is easily done, regardless of language if you are prepared to reach out and put a little effort in.

Now because I work in the Technology industry, it fascinates me to see how people engage with tech around the world, their thoughts around it and how they use it. As you can imagine during the many Uber rides, the subject of technology comes up a lot. Not always driverless cars or new cutting edge innovative ideas, but general everyday questions.

Also, I find people want to know about me and I like to get to know information about them. Many drivers don’t think they are savvy on the subject of technology, yet they still understand the basics and use technology as part of their daily lives. Most have their smart phones showing them directions and getting live traffic updates.

There is something very rewarding about talking to a stranger and finding mutual interests or being educated in areas of potential interest. I used to continually be on my phone in an Uber when travelling, checking email, reading news articles, making calls etc. I now make a conscious effort to have a chat with my driver. You never know where the conversation might go, or what you both may get out of it.

Recently whilst in Seattle, I had a great ‘tech’ conversation. The gentleman driving me was very interested in what I do, and more importantly why I do what I do. So I gave him various facts, and shared some of the stories from my travels and how we’d been able to help various individuals around the world to get a foot in the door in IT, through our certifications.

Incidentally this gentleman’s brother was working in IT and had become siloed within the company and consequently lost his job due to changes. He was now at the cross roads in what to do next and how to make himself more employable. There are so many courses and certifications in the market and it can be quite confusing determining which is most relevant and worthwhile.

I proactively offered up my suggestions and we connected on LinkedIn during the Uber ride.

He has contacted me since and we’ve followed up back and forth, I believe his brother is now interested in pursuing his career in information security and is studying CompTIA’s Security+ and plans to gain the certification as a part of his retraining. This really is just one of many examples of these types of conversations I’ve had and I often wonder what would happen if they didn’t, would people find their natural route anyway, or would they not?

I think everyone needs help, advice, support and information.

Call me old fashioned but I still believe the best way to communicate is to talk to each other. Trust me there are some very good, kind and interesting people out there, but you’ll never know if you don’t look up from your phone more often!

Being able to communicate effectively is that skill that covers pretty much every job, industry and country out there.

It’s so easy to practice too, so next time you are in an Uber or you have the chance, give it a go!

Start talking ..

Mark Plunkett

Mark Plunkett is the Regional Director for Emerging Markets at CompTIA 

Cyber Threat or Cyber Opportunity?

Madison Square Garden Data BreachNews of the most recent high profile cyber breach, that the concession stands in Madison Square Garden were compromised, has just been released.

But it’s not the fact that they were compromised that’s concerning but that the breach was in place for over a year before they even knew about it. This is a trend we are seeing more often this year.

It started me thinking about how organizations look at cyber security - it’s almost always in a negative way. The fear of the hack, the stigma associated, how will my business recover and most importantly my customer’s information will be widely available on the internet.

Behind all this fear and distress there is a genuine opportunity for businesses to move beyond this “roll the dice” conundrum.

Business owners, CEO’s, CIO’s should be considering how they can be the ‘first in class’ with their cyber security and to make that a selling point, a unique selling proposition, a reason why you should trust them and do business with them.

A business who views Cyber Security as the “Gold Standard” will probably have superior customer service, better products and respect your business a lot more. A business that can demonstrate and validate that their systems are impenetrable, could use this standard/benchmark to win contracts, a real way for their business to differentiate themselves from the competition.

As we enter the most intensive shopping periods of the year, either online or in store the pressure among traders and the anxiety among customers will increase. Almost every time I use my card, I think about whether the retailer has sufficient cyber security measures in place and do they have adequately trained and certified cyber technicians to protect my data?

As I have explained in previous posts, this is as much a people issue as it is technology, so are they promoting good cyber citizenship among their employees?

To achieve this “Gold Standard” is not impossible, but consider the peace of mind and the opportunity for the businesses that implemented and achieved that state of nirvana. They would have, the perfect infrastructure, all technicians trained and certified, proper risk management and governance in place, all staff would be aware of their cyber responsibilities and be good cyber citizens and have superior processes in place when a breach is suspected.

We need to come to terms with the reality of our situation, embrace the perspective the situation provides and re-frame it in our mind.

Out of adversity and challenges, opportunities are abound for those with the right cyber security mindset.

Carpe Diem !

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA



CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner conference 2016

Every year I look forward to our CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner conference and this year in the UK (11th & 12th October) was bigger and better than ever before. Since my move to the United States, it gave me an opportunity to meet old friends and catch up on all of the gossip!! 

It just seems like yesterday that I did a quick video for YouTube (see below) in preparation for the conference.

The conference is always one of the highlights of our year in the region bringing together over 500 attendees, from a diverse and unique audience across Europe and the Middle East. 

This year’s two-day event gave IT executives, commercial training partners and academic partners, a forum to network and share resources; gain knowledge they can put into action in their businesses upon returning home and benefit from and enjoy sessions customized for their specific market. 

At the event we had some great high-level panel discussions and exceptional networking experiences with key IT influencers. We were also delighted to use the event as an opportunity to educate our partners and members about the current trends in tech and tech education. The rate of change in our industry is phenomenal but yet all of the core basics and philosophy such as best practice will always remain the same.

All segments are presented by leading industry subject matter experts so it is no surprise that 9 in 10 attendees say it has a positive impact on their business.

At CompTIA we work hard to ensure that it is a truly collaborative and rewarding environment, where the connections made will be just as valuable as the lessons attendees take home.

Even in our fast paced technology world you can never beat the value of face to face meetings and connecting in person!

The event was hosted by a combination of CompTIA leadership and industry experts, offering insights into key trends, relevant business challenges and the most notable opportunities in today’s market. 

As always I was really busy between conducting the official welcome for the Certs Partner Track and introducing a session on our latest certification, Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+), sitting on a panel discussing "The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective", presenting on the topic of "Growth versus Fixed Mindset businesses" and finally providing the welcome address for the Canon meeting.

Once again I left full of excitement and enthusiasm with even more new ideas and some new challenges.

See you again next year!

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA