Confidence is a great thing. It can make people more open to learning new skills, pursuing new opportunities and living new experiences. When it comes to career choices, confidence, or rather a lack of it, can keep qualified and motivated individuals from even considering certain fields. Technology is at the forefront of this dilemma, according to those in the industry, who also note that lingering misconceptions may be widening a “confidence gap.”
“For too long we’ve been telling young people that the best jobs of the future will require advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association. “The reality is that the vast majority of good paying jobs in the next 30 years won’t require a STEM degree.
“Unfortunately, many students have concluded that they don’t have the qualifications or skills to work in tech, creating a confidence gap that contributes to the lack of diversity in the tech workforce,” Thibodeaux continued. “To close this gap we need employers to open the door to more candidates with non-traditional backgrounds, and for parents and role models to encourage all young people to look at opportunities in tech when they think about their career options.”
Thibodeaux explains that a great first step is to speak with young people in plain and simple language about what a career in technology truly entails. That includes making sure they understand that working in tech isn’t always about engineering, coding, calculus and Silicon Valley. It’s also about customer service, teamwork, curiosity, communication and problem solving. It means working for any size company in any industry and in any location.
Equally important, young people need to know about the many resources available to them to learn about careers in tech, network with others who share their interests and acquire the skills that will help them land a job. Here are a few examples:
• The Technology Student Association is a national, nonprofit career and technical student organization of 250,000-plus middle school and high school students that offers exciting opportunities in networking, competitions, leadership and community service. For more information, visit tsaweb.org
• The National Cyber League offers students of all ages game-meets-edutainment competitions simulating real-life cyberthreats in a safe environment so students can learn how to defend against threats. To learn more, visit nationalcyberleague.org
• TechGirlz inspires middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology through the creation of free, fun, interactive “TechShopz” led by industry professionals, community leaders and students. Get the details at techgirlz.org.
The tech industry is in the midst of a massive new wave of innovation. Advances in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, bionics, robotics, healthcare and many other areas are changing virtually every walk of life. To turn these possibilities into realities, millions of knowledge workers and technology professionals will be needed.
“Don’t think that you need to be a math or science genius or that you need to have coding skills or that if you’re not good at ‘computational thinking’ you don’t have a chance. All you need is confidence in yourself,” says Thibodeaux.
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