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Eleven Industry Perspectives from IT Employers

The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently convened its Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) for the last quarterly meeting of 2022. BILT meetings offer a forum for employers to share with educators their perspectives on industry trends – both what’s happening now and what they expect to happen soon. The goal is for these discussions – which supplement the annual “KSA vote” meeting in which employers rank and prioritize entry-level job skills – to keep educators as updated as possible on the ongoing evolution of the IT workforce.

To learn more about what the CTC calls the “BILT model,” here is 25-minute webinar or download our new toolkit.

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Below is a quick rundown of some of the more interesting statements that came out of our November meeting. You can also get a copy of our meeting handout, which provides a number of IT industry workforce charts and tables you may find useful.

1. When it comes to industry certification for AI, there is a Certified Analytics Professional cert, which is the only one that is both vendor and tool agnostic and also focuses on methodology.

2. Cloud providers offer security, but customers often don’t realize that the provider is only securing the platform. Customers must take extra steps to also secure the workloads and data that’s in the cloud.

3. Cybersecurity mesh provides protection much closer to the device level. It’s no longer about building strong perimeter security around the network. Often the last point of failure is an employee’s laptop, which is why it’s more and more important to look at security at the device and/or OS level.

4. Rather than task AI with “doing things,” AI is starting to create value and develop new insights on its own. This “generative AI” can help formulate new medicines or test defense systems and predict failures based on data rather than system performance. Linked to this concept are virtual environments and digital twins. It’s becoming more common across all industries.

5. Zero trust focuses on minimal permissions at the individual employee level. You don’t want to “over-permission someone.” Third-party hacks are getting more sophisticated. Hackers now use existing, trusted credentials to cause havoc.

6. Employers needs employees who “look beyond the technical piece” and find solutions by engaging with their team and with other teams at the company. It’s not just about the hard technical skills. Student also need to develop the ability to collaborate and build relationships. You cannot solve problems alone.

7. One employer noted that team work and group projects are essential in teaching students how to collaborate with different personalities and balance workloads. Students are not going to like everyone they work with, but they are going to have to learn to get along. Companies are segmented. Students may get a job where they work on problems they don’t have full control of, so there comes into play the need to be persuasive and influence thinking on other teams. How can they work on different teams that come together to solve a problem?

8. Students may also want to consider taking public speaking classes, which can sharpen their presentation skills and also polish their thought process. Specifically, in public speaking you often want to focus on three key points – people can’t remember more than three things – in crafting a message.

9. Industry certifications matter. If a job posting gets 200 applicants, but the hiring managers only want to see 10 people, HR will often use a filter to winnow the pool down. Sometimes those filters are the industry certs. Applicants with the certs make it through the filter and sit for the interview. In other words, students should not only take CompTIA classes, but also pass the certification test.

10. There are many, many high-paying jobs at defense contractors, but those jobs require a security clearance. One employer noted how hard it is for many job applicants to pass the drug screening. They don’t realize that for federal jobs, even marijuana use is not allowed.

11. As of now, the PCAP is the leading certification for Python. The exam is sponsored by the Python Institute and has two levels: an entry-level cert and a more advanced associate level cert. It’s rigorous for those without programming experience, but much easier for those who have programed before.

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