As states across the country work to grow their percentage of learners with education beyond high school—48 states have set such goals—a parallel effort is underway.
Increasing the number of tech jobs—in all industries—is emerging as a national imperative.
Despite what you’re reading about layoffs in tech, the number of jobs is outpacing the ability to find, hire, and retain qualified talent in many parts of the country. Employers in several states are gobbling up the talent let go by big tech companies but say that will not be enough to meet the demand.
There is a growing urgency to address the shortage.
For example, in Indiana, TechPoint, a nonprofit, industry-led growth accelerator has set a goal to create 41,000 new tech jobs in the state by 2030. TechPoint’s Mission41K is a collaborative effort of business and education leaders who are drawing attention to one of the biggest issues facing tech employers today: finding, hiring, and retaining qualified talent.
At the heart of the initiative is the need for training and credentials beyond the high school diploma.
In the next seven years, the Mission41K partners will work to recruit and retain within Indiana, do more to keep talent from leaving the state, and develop high school mentoring programs while offering paid internships. This thinking takes an old-school idea and introduces it to the tech sector, arguing that these “new collar jobs” can be mastered through on-the-job training. In other words, apprenticeships can create a pathway to tech jobs and advance workers toward degrees.
Ivy Tech Community College, which describes itself as Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest accredited statewide community college system, recently partnered with TechPoint.
The collaboration is designed to create career pathways for the next generation of tech leaders, a natural partnership since Ivy Tech offers associate degrees, short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that align to the needs of employers.
Indiana is not alone in its efforts to fill the tech talent gap. While big tech companies such as Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google have announced significant layoffs, companies everywhere continue to hire furloughed workers. Houston, Miami, Phoenix, and Charlotte are all cities that have attempted to foster local tech communities. The growth in demand for tech talent shows how industries are hiring tech professionals for all types of jobs—from building websites to working in cloud infrastructure.
Unemployment in the tech sector declined slightly from 2.1 percent to 2 percent in May—still well below the national rate of 3.7 percent, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, known as CompTIA. IT salaries are among the highest in America.
“The positives for the month outweigh the negatives, confirming the tech workforce remains on solid footing,” said Tim Herbert, the association’s chief research officer.
As the demand for tech talent grows, we know that far too few adults have the necessary training for today’s workforce. Lumina Foundation set a goal in 2009 that 60 percent of adults have some post-high school credential by 2025. Our Stronger Nation report, which tracks the nation’s progress toward that goal, shows 53.7 percent of working-age Americans have some sort of high-quality credential beyond a high school diploma. That is an improvement, but there is much more to be done: Estimates are that by 2025, two-thirds of jobs will require some credential beyond high school.
Education attainment rates vary widely across the country, but it is clear that every state must improve. It is a good sign when 48 states have set meaningful attainment goals of their own. It is an even better sign when the workforce, employers, and higher education are working together to reach these goals.
Because when that happens, we all benefit.
This article was initially published in Forbes.