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Eleven Things We Heard at WASTC

For the second year in a row, the annual WASTC Winter ICT Educators conference had to run 100% online as a virtual event. The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) continues to serve on the conference’s planning committee. Fingers are crossed that the 2023 edition will be able to return to its original face-to-face format and convene in sunny San Jose, California. The CTC was well-represented at this year’s event – grant partners from Collin College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Lone Star College, San Jose College, and Texas State Technical College all delivered featured breakout presentations. This is in addition to a showcase presentation of the “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” project that’s currently updating entry-level IT job skills nationwide. Learn more here.

The WASTC Winter ICT Educators conference always offers a fascinating “big picture” look at trends and practices in the education and industry landscape, particularly from the point of view of educators and employers on the West Coast.

Here’s a sample of some of the more memorable things we heard during the event…

1. Businesses focused on hiring only those with “three to seven years of experience” are missing out on an entire generation of workers.

2. Business continues to undergo a shift from looking at IT departments as supporting business goals to considering IT as a strategic partner helping achieve those goals.

3. Hackers can purchase off the internet phony charging cables that come installed with malware. An unsuspecting person plugs the cable into a laptop and it’s immediately infected.

4. Among several persistent “myth-perceptions” about IT:

  • IT workers need a four-year degree
  • All jobs in IT are either programmers or developers
  • IT workers have to be expert in math and calculus.
  • It can take years to become a cybersecurity worker.
  • Technology workers are valued solely for their “hard” technical skills.
  • There is no well-defined career pathway.
  • IT workers need to start learning the technology in elementary school.

5. The term “analytics” returns over 380,000 hits on

6. By 2024, 75% of organizations will have established data analytic centers to support business goals.

7. Forbes reports that 92% of surveyed executives believe the biggest challenges to becoming truly data-driven are cultural barriers, not technology limitations. The technology is “ahead of capacity for adoption.”

8. 28% of surveyed companies believe that employment will grow through 2026 in response to a demand for data science skills.

9. 70% of technology workers will be Millennial or Generation Z by 2026. Millennials seek experiences like travel and tends to be self-oriented. Generation Z, on the other hand, seeks the truth and feels comfortable moving across social network-style multiple realities and identities.

10. Burning Glass reports a 150% growth rate of digital-based, middle-skill jobs compared to other kinds of jobs.

11. The National Skills Coalition reports that 49% of today’s job openings require a high-school degree but not a four-year college degree.

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