CompTIA CEO: Unlocking the Potential of the Industry Requires Fighting for More Tech Workers

With millions of individuals looking for new opportunities, CompTIA plays an important role in unlocking the potential of the industry, says CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux.
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Amidst an unprecedented transition in the labor market, CompTIA plays an important role in unlocking the potential of the workforce. With numbers of tech job postings in the hundreds of thousands, it is imperative that the entire industry does its part to break down barriers, remove obstacles and find ways to attract career-intent individuals to work in tech. The career intent are people in the workforce that are looking for more dynamic, stable opportunities to grow and advance their careers, but don’t know what they want to do next.

Historically during periods of transition in the labor market approximately 10 percent of individuals would have been transitioning between positions, but today that number stands at a staggering 35 percent. Considering the global tech workforce is made up of approximately 36-40 million people, that means there are millions of individuals that find themselves looking for new opportunities.

With all these people looking for new opportunities across the globe, why then is there such a shortage of tech workers to fill myriad of in-demand job roles in the industry?  

“The problem is, we have what we call the confidence gap. People that are career intent, we want them to become tech intent,” said CompTIA CEO, Todd Thibodeaux during a keynote presentation at CompTIA’s EMEA Member and Partner Conference in London. “The problem is getting them over this gap. When we measure this quantitatively, our industry has the biggest confidence gap of any industry out there, bigger than medicine, bigger than data, bigger than lots of these other industries that people rank above tech. People think it costs more, takes longer, is harder and requires skills they don’t remotely have,” Thibodeaux said. The IT industry ranks just fifth among career preferences considered for career intent individuals behind industries such as healthcare, real estate, marketing, business and finance. 

In order to fill the pipeline with workers, the biggest challenge the industry faces is getting people over this confidence gap, which affects all demographics and is larger among minorities and those working in rural areas.  

CompTIA Undertakes Project Agora Initiative 

“We need to get much better at telling a more consistent story about how truly great it is to work in the tech industry,” said Thibodeaux. “You really have to create that long term career path for people and invest in them,” he said.  

“The way the industry will get the talent that it needs is by fighting for it. We can’t just assume that going forward we’re just going to have this flood of people coming in,” said Thibodeaux. In order to start fighting for the millions of individuals we want and need working in the industry across the globe, CompTIA has announced an initiative dubbed Project Agora (the Greek word for marketplace). 

The goal of Project Agora is to create the most respected place to start, build and supercharge your tech career. It aims to attract career-intent individuals so that they can see what a variety of tech careers entail and provides them with a myriad of engagement options and learning environments for them to start and continue their career in tech. 

How Can You Contribute to the Advancement of the Industry? 

“Across the industry there are about 30 job roles that encompass about 90 percent of employment in tech,” Thibodeaux said.” As a part of this project, CompTIA needs to compile about 200 profiles of people who are doing these jobs to help showcase what it is like to work in tech, the challenges you face and what you like about your job.  

This project also includes compiling a pool of about 100 instructors that have real world experience to provide industry training to the next generation of tech workers, and hundreds of guest lecturers that can tell us what it is like to do these jobs on a day-to-day basis. “We recognize that not everyone is born to be a teacher, but everyone is born to share, and the ability to bring in these real-world stories is really important,” he said.  

“Maybe someone just went through a really significant phishing mitigation or got attacked by ransomware and they were able to solve that. That would be an amazing guest lecture,” said Thibodeaux. “It doesn’t have to be this hour-long video; it can be something where you describe the key points in say 15-20 minutes.”  

For far too long the industry hasn’t tapped the potential of the work the industry does on a day-to-day basis. CompTIA is also looking for cases that describe what you do and how you do it. Cases allow for the ability to tell stories to answer questions that students may ask to give them exposure to real life job scenarios before they even enter the tech workforce.  

The last area that Thibodeaux points to is the need for career resources. “This is about helping people successfully navigate their progression in their own career, but then how can new people find resources that they need to make the right decisions going forward?” It is about finding the best tech specific resources, because there are lots of generalized resources out there related to careers.” Resource topics that CompTIA is looking to create a tech specific take on range from mental health to navigating a diverse workforce. 

“The whole idea is to try to unlock potential, and unlocking potential is CompTIA’s core purpose. To unlock potential for these millions of people who don’t yet know they want to work in the industry. That is how we’re going to fill these jobs,” said Thibodeaux.

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