According to CompTIA’s recently released State of the Tech Workforce report, there will be 8.9 million net tech employment jobs in 2022 in the U.S. And there is no retreat in tech job growth for the foreseeable future. However, the outlook for public sector tech employment is a bit cloudier.
While the need for qualified tech professionals has never been greater, state and local governments are facing a particularly challenging time in recruiting and retaining qualified staff. This is largely due to a number of factors which include, a record number of senior staff retirements, uncompetitive salaries when compared to the private sector, inflexible job requirements and working conditions, inadequate budget support, and quite simply – the pandemic has accelerated burn-out fatigue.
IT managers report that they are understaffed, placing greater strain on the existing tech workforce. This leads to the issue of the importance of competencies. We need to ensure that today’s lean public sector tech workforce possesses the best and updated competencies, which can be measured in part through certifications. Unlike a college degree which places no expectations or obligations to stay current on a chosen field after graduation—tech certifications do. All recognized certifications require recertifications at certain intervals, usually every three years. Maintaining certifications is perhaps the most visible way to demonstrate that one has not only taken their profession seriously it also demonstrates one has remained current in an ever-changing tech landscape.
Although tech certifications play a critical role in measuring core and specialized competencies, public managers have steadfastly looked for technology leadership qualities for the next generation of CIO, CTOs, and IT Directors. Several years ago, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) surveyed their current state CIOs asking them to rank order the most important characteristics for CIO leadership moving forward. Not surprising, “technologist” was listed number nine out of ten. Heading the list was “communicator” followed by “relationship manager”, “strategist”, “motivator”, “diplomat”, “change manager”, “negotiator”, and “facilitator”. In the past, these qualities were referred to as “soft skills” or “professional skills”. Today these qualities are being referred to as “durable skills”. Clearly, the term durable skills denotes that such skills not only last a lifetime – but are required skills for today’s workforce—and tomorrow’s.
Professional Development Spurs Promotions, Career Advancement
A number of years ago, the CompTIA Public Technology Institute developed its Certified Government Chief Information Officer (CGCIO) program with Rutgers University Center for Government Services. The CompTIA PTI/Rutgers University CGCIO program is one of only three university-affiliated national programs of its type and is unique in that it has always focused on durable technology leadership.
Over the years it has been frustrating to hear numerous excuses for not enrolling, including:
- I’m too busy and don’t have enough time.
- I can get all I need from online sources.
- It’s too expensive.
- My employer won’t pay for it.
Taken together, these reasons, or excuses, fail to address the growing need for self-improvement which, like anything else of value, requires an investment of self, time, and resources.
Graduates of the CompTIA PTI/Rutgers University CGCIO program have been the greatest recruiters for new students—some 65% of new students are due to referrals. The CompTIA PTI program is one of the most cost-effective public sector-focused certification programs in the U.S. and is designed for the busy technology professional.
Most graduates find the CompTIA PTI/Rutgers University CGCIO program to be one of the most cost-effective professional development programs, leading to promotion and career advancement. Having a CompTIA PTI/Rutgers University CGCIO certification after your name is an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment towards continuous self-improvement in contemporary areas such as change management, leadership and followership, time management, emotional intelligence, as well as written and oral communications (some of the topics covered in the CompTIA PTI CGCIO program).
You do not need to have the title of CIO to enroll in the program, but you should aspire to be a technology leader.
Classes are kept intentionally small—less than 35 students—to ensure quality dialog and interaction among students. Applications are being accepted through June for the 2022-2023 program.
So, the real questions are: What is stopping you from excelling in your career? Might a meaningful certification help demonstrate your commitment and skills to current and future public managers? Might your staff gain greater respect for your commitment?
In the end, there is always the internal satisfaction that you did something meaningful to improve your leadership skills that will endure a lifetime. There is simply no downside to applying for the CompTIA PTI/Rutgers University CGCIO program.
Dr. Alan R. Shark is vice president public sector and executive director, CompTIA Public Technology Institute