FALL 2017 | CompTIAWorld 23 Ramsey, a member of the Akron-Canton chapter. The public speaking he’s done as chapter president boosted his confidence, and now he speaks comfortably to crowds of IT pros. Through AITP, Ramsey’s also had the opportunity to mentor others. Same with Del Nagy, an assistant professor at Tarleton State University in Texas, who mentors IT students and wishes he’d known about AITP when he was an undergrad. “What I have seen by involving my students in AITP is nothing less than amazing,” said Nagy. “To me, AITP is about community.” AITP also provides students with resume-building tools, job-prep questions, job- search resources and networking opportunities. “Every student who has attended events and participated has found an IT career,” Nagy said. IT entrepreneur Maxwell Wethington just graduated from Texas State University with a computer information systems degree. “At the end of the day you really have to get into something like CompTIA AITP,” Wethington said. “It gave me something to look forward to, meeting like-minded people I could make jokes about tech with that no one else would get, and it gave me people to compete against.” Finding the Magic Ingredient to an IT Workforce With technology a primary driver of economic growth and the world on the cusp of unlocking the potential behind artificial intelligence, smart cities and a connected world through the Internet of Things, few industries have such a wide impact or do such purposeful work. There’s no magic ingredient in developing a national or local IT workforce, so CompTIA AITP will offer a national network and benefits while ensuring that local chapters, who understand local needs, provide means and ways to bring IT pros together and share information. Groups like Salt Lake City meet online for Google chats with business leaders, and, in Texas, they lift students through direct mentoring. Systems operators, small business owners and network engineers in Charleston, S.C., strategize plans to get IT pros into the area’s manufacturing industries, like Mercedes- Benz, Volvo and Boeing. Chapters located near clusters of military operations focus on certifications like CompTIA Security+ for the Department of Defense civilian contractors in the area. In the Ozarks, the chapter exposes students and IT pros in the local IT community to companies like Cerner Corp., Google, BKD, Bass Pro Shops and Expedia. CompTIA AITP’s Future Mirrors its Past AITP was rooted in a fundamental mission – to provide its members with the opportunities and resources necessary to develop and advance their IT careers. CompTIA’s mission is to serve as an advocate and advance the global IT industry. Together, CompTIA AITP will sustain the current workforce and attract the next gen, with plans to grow AITP membership to 40,000-plus IT pros and students in the first few years. As the organization grows, it will focus on becoming the go-to resource for individuals looking to start, grow and advance their careers in technology as CompTIA looks to advance the workforce as a whole. “That’s what this organization stands for,” said Raja Singh, director of the Houston Chapter and chair of the CompTIA AITP Executive Council. “The reason we exist is to be the bridge between today’s leaders in IT and the next generation of technology leaders.” AN INTERSECTIONAL APPROACH TO BUILDING THE 21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE Between the challenges of the job and the ever-growing IT skills gap, there are plenty of reasons more than half a million IT job postings sit open right now and that number is expected to grow to 1.8 million by 2024. To fill that pipeline with the next generation of IT pros, CompTIA takes an intersectional approach that includes STEM education, certifications and cybersecurity. CERTIFICATIONS. Computer and network support specialists are in high demand, as are junior cybersecurity analysts. CompTIA helps IT pros understand that an industry certification will get you there faster than a four-year college degree, and is a credential that employers value because it shows the person who earned it has the knowledge to do the job. STEM EDUCATION. CompTIA and Creating IT Futures partner with groups like ChiTech and TechGirlz to bring a hands-on experiences to children who might otherwise self-select out of IT. To introduce children and their families to the tech skills essential for those who want to work as a highly skilled member of the U.S. economy, Charles Eaton wrote a handbook called A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education, which introduces parents and their kids to people working in tech and educational options to take and offers step-by-step instructions to explore the IT landscape nearby. CYBERSECURITY. With a cybersecurity workforce in high demand, CompTIA fosters a spirit of innovation to take on malware, denial-of-service attacks and privacy concerns, and works with partners and the government to find the best ways to train IT pros to meet the country’s security needs.