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Attacking the Nation’s IT Skills Gap One Community at a Time

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American business is hanging out the Help Wanted sign for computer science and business analytics skills, but all too few people are there to answer the call.

Fewer than three percent of college students earned a computer science degree in 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years earlier reported Education Week in December 2013. In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009.

Despite all the money we spend – more than any other country per student – the jobs of the future will go unfilled in the absence of action. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there will be a million more computer science job openings than trained workers to fill them by 2020. Small wonder. According to Code.org, an organization that encourages more students to learn programming and coding skills, only 1 in 10 American high schools even offer a computer science class, let alone advanced placement in the subject.

On a global scale, future economic, political and social ramifications for the U.S. extend far beyond troubling. On a local level, we deal with the reality of this every day in our business at Peak 10. Finding and keeping people with the required skills for the jobs that exist is a challenge for us, for our customers and the region generally.

This is why Peak 10 CEO Dave Jones and I have joined a diverse group of leaders committed to building a sustainable regional IT talent profile, from the classroom to the boardroom. The Executive Council for IT-oLogy in the Greater Charlotte Region represents businesses, academic institutions, entrepreneurs, economic developers and government leaders. The Council connects, leverages and promotes existing resources within the Charlotte IT ecosystem, identifies gaps, and works together to develop new programs that will grow the future IT talent pool. Our group is affiliated with IT-oLogy, a national non-profit collaboration of like-minded individuals dedicated to growing the IT talent pipeline, fostering economic development and advancing the IT profession.

Our mission is not modest: enable Charlotte to be the hub of Big Data and Big Business analytics by increasing the supply of qualified resources through professional development programs. The possibilities and the benefits are endless. Collecting, organizing and analyzing large data sets to extract the knowledge within can bring about new discoveries in every discipline imaginable, breakthroughs in medicine and the sciences, and new-found speed, agility and competitive advantage with real time business-decision support. All of that is waiting realized, and now is the time to seize the moment.

How we have strayed so far from equipping people with the skills they will require for their own futures and that of their families, as well as for our collective future as a leading nation on a global stage cannot be defended. Getting us back on track must be a national priority, which many individuals and organizations are working tirelessly to make happen. The greater Charlotte community is endeavoring to do its part. Peak 10 is pleased to work with many others here to be part of the solution.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest