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.





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



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


The Pilot and a Career in IT

Tom Cruise - Top Gun

I got in a plane recently and had an aisle seat as I always do.

On the inside seat at the window was a young kid with his headphones on. He took them off when I sat down and we made our introductions. He asked me what I did. I told him I worked for one of the largest IT certification providers in the world, people with our certs get hired into really good jobs in the IT industry. He picked up his headphones and before he put them back on, said "Cool accent man".

The middle seat between us was still empty as other passengers came on board so we thought we might have the middle seat free for the duration of the flight. We heard the doors close and one last passenger came down the aisle and sure enough occupied the middle seat.

He was a pilot for the airline and was wearing his uniform. As soon as he sat down, the kid at the window took off his headset and started taking to him. Quizzing him on the type of training a pilot needs, how long he had to train before becoming qualified, how much did it cost, how much a pilot starting out earns. They talked for the duration of the flight.

My takeaway from the story is that kids are not interested in careers in IT. They just don't see it as being "sexy" enough, not like being a pilot!

One of our biggest challenges in the IT industry is attracting young talent where we have a huge skills gap. There are fantastic opportunities in the IT industry providing fulfilling and rewarding careers to those starting their journey.

We need to demonstrate that a career in IT is as exciting as being a pilot!


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

Why IT needs more WOMEN!

On a recent trip to Johannesburg, I presented at the facilities of one of our CompTIA training partners.  Afterwards, I had the opportunity to field questions from over 100 college students. They asked a lot of interesting questions, mainly around getting a job and how CompTIA’s certifications could help them get that job and start on a great career path.

With an incredible excess of four million open IT jobs globally and the workforce expected to shrink by over 30% in the next ten to fifteen years due to retirees, these sharp students all agreed they made the right career choice in choosing to study IT.

Interestingly, almost half the audience was female.  – a very similar ratio to the group of students I spoke with in Kuala Lumpur earlier this summer.  This gives me confidence that we were making great strides in getting more women into the world of IT.

That was, until I read an article in Inc.com which suggests the gap between young men and women considering a career in the field of cybersecurity is widening.  (The results stem from a survey of almost 4,000 people ages 18-26 from 12 countries.)

Attracting young talent, particularly women, represents a huge challenge for the tech industry. If the trend continues, the already dire shortage of qualified tech workers will grow worse. Last summer, Google, Facebook, Apple and other big tech companies released figures showing that men out number women 4:1 or more in their technical sectors.

Based on recent research, women make up half our population and yet, just 10-15% of tech jobs in the U.S. were held by women (down from 35% in 1990). During the same period, the number of women earning computing degrees also declined.

This is alarming considering we all recognize the threat to our livelihoods from cyber criminals and that this issue is one of the key talking points in boardrooms across the world.

Innovative ideas are critical to addressing this challenge. I was thrilled to hear about a New York school that teaches amateur coders the skills to land high-paying professional jobs. Fullstack Academy won't charge tuition fees for its brand new all-women school until after its students land a job.

It is straightforward common sense: If a business only gets to pick staff from half of the working population, then it is recruiting from a pretty reduced talent pool. More women need to be encouraged into IT careers so the industry can pick from the best of both genders and a broader mix of skills and personalities.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.

UK Failing to address the digital skills shortage

Our industry has done so much advocacy in the last few years trying to get students interested in IT and considering our strong efforts to bridge the digital skills gap, it is almost inconceivable that we are still so short of achieving our goals.

Yet, as we make our way into spring 2015, the digital skill shortage is still a big issue. According to the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee, 35% of UK jobs will be at risk of being automated over the next 20 years. What’s even more worrying is that the committee says the UK government is failing to address the issue.Read more

IT industry must collaborate to solve IT skills gap

As close as we are to the problem on a daily basis, the IT industry alone cannot solve the skills gap. However, when we team up with or gain the support of influential politicians, that’s when things can start to change for the better.

As I currently live and work in the US, I’m interested in ways the skills gap is being addressed here. I recently came across a story highlighting the need for our industry and elected representatives to work together to develop the IT skills needed for our profession to succeed.Read more

IT job market is bright, but fresh skills are needed going forward

It’s now approaching the sixth year of the global economic downturn. We’ve seen banks and even our favourite high street chains go to the wall. However, depending on who you speak to, the job market is looking rosier in certain sectors.

One sector that has to a degree bucked the trend is IT. Research from US-based Burning Glass Technologies found that Q4 2013 IT job openings numbered over 500,000. Additionally, research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the IT unemployment rate was 3.3% in the US compared to the overall national average of 7% across all sectors. We’re the lucky ones it seems.Read more