CompTIAWorld | FALL 2017 50 Q & A The Way of the Future in IT, and they average 34 years old, but they have those intangibles that we can build upon. Tech-centric soft skills are wo- ven into our tech support curriculum so a graduate will be a strong and immediate contributor in their first IT role. We also don’t just train and certify, but we match our certified graduates to local em- ployers and help them land full-time jobs. We’re constantly building up trust with these employers so that they believe in our graduates when the handoff is made. Our graduates’ success further cements that trust so that employers come back to us again and again when they have open positions. Combined with our partner, Per Scholas, we currently have classes running in 10 markets: Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, New York City, Minne- apolis/St. Paul, Portland, San Luis Obispo, and Washington, D.C. CompTIA members can help by giving mock interviews to the students and then evaluating them for en- try-level positions in their own companies. CompTIA: In Germany and Switzerland, apprenticeships are commonplace and highly respected. How is that practice changing in the U.K. and what steps can America take to boost apprenticeships and value them as a society? EATON: Germany and Switzerland have a long history with apprenticeships outside of the core trades we think of in the U.S., such as electricians, mechanics, plumbers, etc. It would be difficult to create in the U.S. the deep connection that businesses and education have built over decades in those countries. They also do a terrific job of not making an apprenticeship pathway a secondary or lower path in their society. What we’re seeing in the U.K., though, gives me hope for the U.S. market. Appren- ticeships in tech have been embraced for several years there, and the employers and education system are lining up their resources to work together. The U.K. gov- ernment has made it a national priority, even going as far as to create a national levy on employers to pay for upskilling and apprenticeships. The U.S. should be studying the U.K. to see what works and what doesn’t. In the U.S., apprenticeships probably will work best when implemented state by state or region by region versus under a national mandate. Public and private partnerships will drive the change. Ultimately, Americans need to embrace the idea that there are numerous career paths. We must stop the addiction to four- year college degrees as the only mean- ingful pathway to success. Just like most major-league sports teams, employers need to draft off potential, find the hidden talent and cultivate their employees. When I talk to employers about what makes a great IT team member, they point to three main characteristics that can be developed without a college degree:   PROBLEM SOLVING: Sounds simple, but it takes creativity and nimble, adaptive thinking. The best tech professionals can see a problem from different angles and create a solution with a full understand- ing of the technology and the customer.  COLLABORATION AND COMMUNICATION: Winning solutions designed around tech connect to the needs of people. And a tech professional must create those solutions by leveraging collaboration with team members, listening to the customer and communicating along the way.  DYNAMIC ANALYSIS: It’s a combination of persistent curiosity, predictive imagina- tion and relentless effort. The best tech “After 20 years of following the tech sector, one lesson I’m routinely reminded of is the pitfalls of overgeneralizing. Every seemingly straightforward story inevitably has underlying complexities and nuances. “