Technology is driving change at an unprecedented pace, and we must be ready.
What does this mean to you, and why does it matter?
It means that if you work in manufacturing, nursing or even fast food, much of your job now involves, relies on and is enabled by technology. And you and everyone working in those fields, are and will be expected to have a basic understanding of this technology if you are to keep that job and add value to your organization.
It means that even those pursuing degrees or working in traditional knowledge-based jobs once considered “safe” — medicine, law and architecture, for example — are at the very least being asked to change the way they do their jobs because of technology.
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It means that access to a technology-educated workforce will be a magnet for the next generation of corporate locations and expansions, exactly the way tax incentives have been for the past several decades. This will determine what regions and cities attract companies, enable existing companies, create jobs and ultimately survive and thrive.
While there is debate about whether jobs will be replaced by technology, there is no debating that more jobs today and in the future will at the very least require an understanding of technology that most people don’t have today. If the Midlands and South Carolina as a whole are to remain competitive, this is a major problem.
About a year and a half ago, an amazing collaborative of public and private entities — the University of South Carolina, Midlands Technical College, Benedict and Columbia College, the Legislature, SCRA, Engenuity and a host of private companies — officially launched an initiative to address this problem, by creating an applied-computing minor intended for every college student, regardless of major. Our company, IT-ology, serves as the project manager for this new minor.
The minor is now available at nine colleges and universities statewide. It enables students to, at minimum, obtain a baseline and foundational understanding of technology that can be used as a stand-alone qualification or be coupled with a major to provide a powerful combination of specific subject-matter expertise and underlying technology knowledge.
We have taken a leadership position nationally, as more than 2,500 students have completed at minimum one of the two foundational applied-computing minor courses, with many of those declaring the minor outright or making the decision to pursue a technology-related major because of the technology exposure and heightened awareness the minor has created.
Not only is this creating a pipeline of future graduates and employees with much-needed technology skills for employers to choose from, but it is creating an opportunity for existing professionals to obtain these skills as well. The end result is a more qualified workforce that directly supports and enables business growth and job creation, which is something everyone, regardless of position or opinion, should support.
We implore everyone to obtain more technology skills and knowledge, whether that’s through the applied-computing minor, by enrolling in other technology-focused programs at these schools or through a program at any one of the other fine educational institutions in the area. Regardless of where you are in your personal or professional life, this is a challenge too important to ignore.