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

Fiona and Josie

Teamwork, the Great Wall and the love of a dog!

Fiona and Josie

This was my fourth Christmas living in the US and more remarkably, it was the first time in thirty years I haven’t returned to Ireland for Christmas. Having traveled a lot over 2016, I decided that I would spend it at home and enjoy the festive period, American style. This last week has given me time to reflect on what was an incredible year for me personally and for CompTIA.

As always, the year started out with a little anxiety over the challenges ahead, will we achieve our goals? How would our new A+ launch affect our business?

There were many hurdles ahead of us but we needn’t have worried. 2016 turned out to be one of the best years ever at CompTIA and probably one of my proudest career periods of time.

There have been many new initiatives launched in 2016, which will give us a tremendous platform for the future.

If I could rewind the clock and give myself some advice at the start of 2016, I would say, be comfortable being me, do the basics well, stay in the moment, remain focused on the bigger picture and our strategy. And most importantly...Always, always have fun and enjoy it!

The success I enjoy at CompTIA has everything to do with my team. They are an incredible bunch, the best Sales, Product Management and Sales Ops people in the certification and education business.

We get together as a full team twice a year, usually at our HQ just outside Chicago. This year we decided to mix it up a bit and took our summer meeting "international" to London. This gave us a great opportunity to get away as a (very large!) group, away from our normal environment and push ourselves beyond our comfort zones.

It was a tremendous success, giving us time to bond tighter as a team. As always we learned a lot from each other and came away with some great initiatives and strategies for the remainder of the year.

I travelled around the world twice in 2016 and enjoyed some very funny moments and some spectacular experiences. Our team cruise on the Thames, climbing the Great Wall, seeing The Acropolis in Athens, going to Tokyo Disneyland and visiting the Akshardham temple Ahmedabad were all places I was privileged to experience because of the fantastic role I have at CompTIA.

One of the nicest surprises in 2016 came while we were waiting to board a flight from Shanghai to Beijing. The fog had come down around the airport and all flights had either very long delays or were cancelled. After a busy week and a long day, it’s not the news you like to hear. However, all that changed when our flight was the only flight to leave the airport that evening and on time.

We believed this good fortune was because Dennis Kwok was on board. Dennis is our VP for APAC and spends most of his life in airports or on a plane and is well known across Asia. However, it transpired that there was a very high profile Chinese politician on the same flight and there was no chance his flight was going to be delayed. Nice to have friends in high places although we still like to think Dennis was the reason!

Having played golf for over 10 years, 2016 was the first time I actually won a golf tournament. My team won the “Fall Member” tournament at my club, Cress Creek and I was particularly proud as I had selected the players. Although some did not know each other, we connected as a group and come out on top over the two days.

My wife, Fiona, Josie (our dog) and I moved into our new home on Cress Creek golf course, which was one of the highlights of the year for sure. Although the views across the course change depending on the time of the year, it is never anything other than peaceful, calming and revitalizing.

Josie is our first dog and having never owned a dog before, I was a little apprehensive. We adopted her from a shelter just over a year ago and I can say that she has had a massive impact on our lives. She is the most relaxed, funny and calming dog. She has added so much to our lives and only asks for love in return.

2016..thank you and a big thank you to all of the readers of my blog.

John McGlinchey. CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

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





Girls in Jamaica leading the way in IT!

Kingston, Jamaica

A big thank you to Kirk Smallwood, one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA  for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

Like Mark Plunkett (our previous guest blog poster), I also am afforded the opportunity to travel as part of my role at CompTIA. Anyone who travels often for their job knows this can be both a blessing and a curse. Just recently, I woke up early to learn my flight had been cancelled due to weather. This can make for a stressful day!

I also recently had a blessing, as I was fortunate enough to travel to Kingston, Jamaica to visit with some of our academic partners.

It was a great opportunity to see first-hand what Leonard Wadewitz, who manages LATAM and the Caribbean, was accomplishing there. Many of my friends and family had said something to the effect of “ooh—Jamaica!  Nice!” when I mentioned where I was going to.

They would certainly retract their enthusiasm if they saw what I saw from the cab ride to my hotel. Anyone who needs a wakeup call to realize how fortunate we are in the USA (or many other countries for that matter), they should just visit Kingston for a few days. Jamaica is one of the slowest developing countries in the world, with very high levels of crime, violence and unemployment. In addition, my cab driver informed me of Jamaica’s corrupt leadership and numerous other challenges. Cab drivers are great for local intelligence!

As part of the trip, Leonard created a Young Women in IT event where six high schools bused in nearly 100 girls to Excelsior Community College for a day-long event geared to educate them on the opportunities in IT careers. The day started with several speakers (Leonard being one of them) and even though I wasn’t speaking, they insisted on having me sit on stage. As I looked out into the audience of these young girls, I was amazed at how alert and engaged they were. I was trying to find someone, anyone who was not showing any interest, but was unable to do so.

The speaking sessions were followed by a series of breakouts where the girls could learn more about things like graphic design, app development, computer hardware, etc. Each session had limited space, so the school administrators would ask for the first 20-25 people who were interested in a session to line up. The enthusiasm for which the girls would burst out of their seats to jump in line was obvious.  Throughout the day, some of the girls made a point to come up to us and ask questions or simply to say they appreciated us coming.

The whole experience got me thinking—are our youth in the US (especially girls) as excited as these girls are about the opportunities in IT careers?

And if these girls, who seemed to be “Teflon-coated” to the obvious challenges in their country, could have such a wonderful attitude and be thirsty to learn, what is anyone else’s excuse?

This was certainly a wake-up call for me—I shouldn't take anything for granted and I should reinforce to my kids how fortunate they are. It also solidified my belief that IT is THE industry to be in now and the future.

It was wonderful to see that some young girls in Jamaica may also feel similarly.

Kirk Smallwood, CompTIAKirk Smallwood

Kirk Smallwood is the Vice President of Business Development with responsibility for The Americas at CompTIA



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 

Everything is possible with a Growth Mindset

growth mindset

I’m touring Asia at the moment and over the next couple of weeks, the CEO of CompTIA and I are personally meeting with hundreds of business and education leaders and government officials in India, China and Japan.

At CompTIA we are committed to reducing the IT skills gap and increasing the number of Certified IT professionals around the globe.

No matter where I travel, those who are eager to join us in this effort have at least one thing in common: The Growth Mindset.

People with Growth Mindsets understand and believe that our abilities and skills and even intelligence can be improved over time through dedication, discipline and practice"

RESEARCH supports this point of view.

Crucially our MINDSET has everything to do with how we view our ABILITY TO LEARN. It is not just about our skills, but it is how much we BELIEVE we can learn, how much we believe we are adaptable, teachable and stretchable.

Fixed or Growth Mindset? 

It is really worth challenging ourselves to see what mindset do we hold - be honest!

To determine whether you currently have a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset, let’s examine four statements.

As you read them, think about how much you may agree – or disagree with each point. 

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Okay – what did you think??

Questions 1 & 2 are fixed mindsets. 3 & 4 reflect the growth mindset.

Which one did you agree with more? You can be a mixture but most people lean towards one or the other.

You can also have beliefs about core abilities.

So for instance, I could substitute the word “intelligence” with “artistic talent”, "sports ability" or business skill.

In a fixed mindset, for instance, you believe “She’s a natural born singer” or “I’m just no good at dancing.”

In a growth mindset, you believe “Anyone can be good at anything. Skill comes only from practice.”

And it’s not just about ABILITIES

There are FIXED and GROWTH Mindsets around your Personal Qualities too – like PERSONALITIES AND CHARACTER - do you consider these to be innate, an inherent part of who you are from an early age? It is interesting!

Your personality mindset comes into play in situations that involve your personal qualities. For example, how dependable, cooperative, caring, or socially skilled are you? Can this change or is it fixed?

The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged

The growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.

Think about someone who is steeped in the fixed mindset. Think about how they are always trying to prove themselves, and how they’re super-sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes. Did you ever wonder why they were this way?

Are you this way? Now you can begin to understand why.

Universal language of learning

As I travel throughout Asia, I am noticing how many people from all cultures understand that important qualities can be cultivated. They are investing in IT education and in growing the Growth Mindset, which is the essential first step to maximising your learning.

Once you have a Growth Mindset then everything else is possible - do you have it?

John McGlinchey

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




The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective

Comptia EMEA Conference

At our recent CompTIA EMEA Members and Partners Conference, which was held in London on the 11th and 12th October I was part of a really interesting panel on the topic of "The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective".

As with all aspects of the conference the panel was quite diverse and it included:

The key outcomes from this discussion were:

We need to attract young talent into the tech workforce

You will have heard me speak and write about this huge issue before - you might check out my recent post about the young man I met on a recent flight!

Basically it seems that kids (that makes me sound very old!) are not interested in a career in IT.

We don’t have enough qualified teachers to teach IT in schools

This is certainly a big issue and in many cases we are seeing that academia is struggling to keep pace with the requirements of the real world. As well as not producing the required numbers of graduates often the courses are outdated and the necessary tech skills lag behind industry.

In some locations industry are working very closely with the local colleges influencing the courses being run and the actual content of these courses. The progressive companies in some cases are providing lecturers for these courses to ensure that graduates are fully up to date - this is also a very clever way of recruiting.

Soft skills for techies is a big requirement

I guess this is nearly a cliche that many highly intelligent and talented people who work in IT can easily get lost in their keyboards and their world of coding and not have the vital soft skills that are needed to work with people and get things done.

It's a fine thing to state it is a problem and it could be a bigger challenge cracking it! We are creating a programme to deal with this very issue.

Continuing Education (CE) is necessary

With the rate of change it is essential that we build continuous education into all of our workplaces and training programmes for techs to make sure that they maintain their knowledge and they always stay current.

While the young entrants in every organisation need to be trained and inducted maybe part of the process is that the mentors can actually learn and stay fresh by working with these new people. We can all learn from each other.

100% Performance based (simulations) exams are the way forward

It looks like the days of learning by rote are no longer sufficient and are clearly numbered. This method of assessing people is very inaccurate so in the future CompTIA will have our core training programmes 100% performance based.

Physical location is a challenge with learning

If we want more graduates and more people to enter our industry then we must make it much easier (and cheaper) for people to take their exams. To achieve this remote proctoring for exams is required and it is up to us to deliver these options.

Mentors are important

While we agree that having mentors from the world of tech for kids will be important this is not a new idea. Mentors have always played a critical role in inspiring people in their career choices and our industry must proactively put mentor programmes in place so we are achieving this.

We need people that young people can look up who can demonstrate to them what a career in IT means and within workplaces mentors that they can shadow.

As always these conferences are a fantastic way to bring thought leaders together to share experiences, discuss issues and brainstorm. For me as always I got a lot from the presentations, from the panel discussions and from the chats over coffee, lunch and yes. at the bar!

Things keep evolving, there is lots to do and all we have to do now is....Just do it!

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