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The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) is a proud co-producer of the annual WASTC Winter ICT Educators conference. While the event is typically hosted over two days in sunny San Jose, California, this year’s version had to run online. As always, CTC staff was allowed to deliver a breakout session – you can find a recording of our Engaging Employers, Defining Skills, and Preparing Students presentation on YouTube. That 30-minute talk covers the essentials of the BILT model and explains how that process is being used in the IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond project to update entry-level IT job skills nationwide.

The WASTC Winter ICT Educators conference always offers a “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. It’s a misnomer to believe that “data is never wrong.” Data analytics is not just about software development and scripting. Ethics and literacy are also important elements. Pre-existing patterns of bias and inequality can be unwittingly – or perhaps maliciously – transferred into data sets and analysis. Data analysts must always challenge data quality, data classification, data annotation, and data interpretation. There is a difference between persuasion and fact.

2. Google reported higher completion rates post-COVID for its IT certifications (91% for synchronous students, 80% for asynchronous students) than pre-COVID, where both delivery methods were closer to 70% completion.

3. LinkedIn recommends three strategies to maximize the impact of your profile: focus on your story rather than making your page look like a resume or cover letter, grow your network by reaching out to fellow alumni or others in your industry, and take the time to post thoughtful and relevant content. Learn about these strategies by downloading Ryan Zervakos’ “Using LinkedIn to Crush It” presentation here.

4. If all of the world’s data in 2017 was the size of a golf ball (25 zettabytes), 2024’s data would be the size of a baseball (over 130 zettabytes).

5. By 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, but 97 million new jobs may emerge.

6. Most opportunities on LinkedIn come from your 2nd and 3rd connections, which is why it’s important to develop more 1st connections.

7. Google offers free data sets that can be used in data analytics classes. Visit cloud.google.com/public-datasets.

8. LinkedIn reports that the most in-demand “soft” employability skills are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. The most in-demand “hard” technical skills are blockchain, cloud computing, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence, and UX design.

9. Peter Coffee from SalesForce asks that we think of AI in terms of “useful verbs.” AI can, for example, delegate low-value high-attention tasks to machines, anticipate problems rather than react, minimize false positives and negatives in troubleshooting, streamline and simplify processes, augment and empower workers, and review and refine operations based on new data analysis.

10. A pre-COVID “emerging jobs report” on LinkedIn called AI specialist, robotics engineers, data scientist, full stack engineer, and site reliability engineer as the five fastest-growing jobs on LinkedIn.

11. Companies must beware of organizing based on activities rather than outcomes. To devise a new system, one must be prepared to also redesign the organization. Companies need workers who can think in terms of the customer experience, rather than rigid business silos of data and function.

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