FALL 2017 | CompTIAWorld 49 Q & A The Way of the Future The Way of the Future: Putting the T in STEM Education W e sat down with Charles Eaton, CEO of Creating IT Futures, the charitable ARM of CompTIA, to learn what CITF is doing to get people of all ages in tech, as well as how CompTIA members can get involved. CompTIA: How can CompTIA members get involved in driving the next IT workforce generation? CHARLES EATON: We can inspire the tech workforce of the future, but we must go to the students. Funded by CompTIA and managed by Creating IT Futures, our new NextUp initiative is introducing teens to the many possibilities of technology ca- reers and guiding them to the tech career of their choosing.  Through curricula, projects, partnerships and mentorship, we aim to spark curiosity and passion for technology through mean- ingful engagement. NextUp engages kids in grades six through nine—mostly middle schoolers—with tech within the context of their interests and connects them with mentors who work in the tech industry. We have estab- lished partnerships with three existing STEM organizations—FUSE Studios, New York Academy of Sciences and TechGirlz— and we are recruiting mentors from CompTIA’s vast network of members and certified professionals.  Research from IDEO, CompTIA, Creating IT Futures and other sources repeatedly emphasizes that role models are one of the most significant and common sources of inspiration and guidance for kids. This is why creating a mentorship program is at the center of NextUp. We need to share why we love what we do. Tech profession- als can sign up to be a NextUp mentor by visiting the Creating IT Futures booth at ChannelCon this August or by contacting Joan Matz at jmatz@comptia.org. We’re experimenting with what works best for mentors and what’s most effec- tive with students. Our next two years are all about experimenting and research. We’re being smart about each part of the campaign so that we find a long-term solution to getting teens interested in tech careers. CompTIA: Your IT-Ready adult career program is celebrating its five-year anni- versary and has had remarkable results with more than 80 percent of students graduating, certifying and getting a job in IT. What makes IT-Ready different from other training programs and how can members get involved? EATON: We take a holistic approach to the job and student. We connect what em- ployers need directly to our training and students. We also have a strong recruiting and assessment process for the program so that we find students with the drive and desire to succeed in an IT role. Our stu- dents come in with little to no experience