Why Your Current Skill Set Might Not Be Enough

Why Your Current Skill Set Might Not Be Enough

It used to be that one highly specialized skill set could set you up for a comfortable, secure living — a thorough knowledge of Excel, for example, may have differentiated you as an analytical expert, while a solid grasp of visual editing software could have nearly guaranteed you a position in design. But in today’s tech-forward world, it may not suffice to be a master of just one trade.

Glassdoor’s Local Pay Reports have shown a decrease in pay for tech jobs and trades that rely on primarily one skill, such as java developers (down 0.1 percent year-over-year to $75,124) and web developers (down 0.9 percent to $64,150). On the other hand, positions that are multifaceted in nature and require proficiency in a variety of areas are seeing healthy growth, as is the case with job titles like solutions architect (up 3.7 percent to $102,184), web designer (up 3.4 percent to $51,767) and software engineer (up 2.7 percent to $85,806).

Don’t Panic, Liberal Arts Majors. The Tech World Wants You.

Don’t Panic, Liberal Arts Majors. The Tech World Wants You.

From the New York Times – August 21, 2018

Surely one day the ability to interface directly with the nanomachinery connected to our brains will render computer science as we know it obsolete. When experts start arguing for its continued relevance, undergraduates choosing a major will begin to realize that the obscure art of manually punching arcane symbols into keyboards is no longer a safe bet. At the present moment, however, it is only liberal arts majors who have to wonder whether all of the articles and books promoting the marketability of their chosen discipline should make them more or less uneasy about the future…

According to both Anders and Stross, the ever-expanding tech sector is now producing career opportunities in fields — project management, recruitment, human relations, branding, data analysis, market research, design, fund-raising and sourcing, to name some — that specifically require the skills taught in the humanities. To thrive in these areas, one must be able to communicate effectively, read subtle social and emotional cues, make persuasive arguments, adapt quickly to fluid environments, interpret new forms of information while translating them into a compelling narrative and anticipate obstacles and opportunities before they arise….

[M]any academics dismiss the now widespread tendency to assess fields of study in terms of their marketability, viewing it as a sign of the American university’s capitulation to a corporatist, neoliberal ideology. The goal of the liberal arts, they would say, is to impart knowledge, promote the capacity for serious intellectual inquiry and encourage critical perspectives on prevailing norms and assumptions, whether or not such training attracts prospective employers. But then what professors don’t want their students to get good jobs after college, particularly those saddled with debts accrued to pay their tuition?

There is Work in Digital Tech, Regardless of Background

There is Work in Digital Tech, Regardless of Background

Stephen O’Grady is co-founder of RedMonk, a Maine consulting firm with global clients. They help “companies understand developers better, and to help developers, period.”

“I want [kids] to understand that no matter what their background, what their training, there is a place for them in this industry if they enjoy the work and are willing to work hard. It’s a demanding and challenging industry, and it requires the intellectual flexibility to adapt to a constantly changing environment, but whether you’re a CompSci major or didn’t attend college, you can work in this business…

“I’m a firm believer that technology can be taught if a candidate is bright, motivated and has the kind of skills that are harder, I believe, to teach: work ethic, how to write well, how to be a good teammate, and so on…

“So for all of the liberal arts majors, college dropouts, people looking for a new career or anyone else thinking about the field, if nothing else, I hope my path gives you hope.

“If the industry has room for me, it sure as hell does for you too.”

Why Every Tech Worker Needs a Humanities Education

Why Every Tech Worker Needs a Humanities Education

Excerpt by Tracy Chou via Quartz

In 2005, the late writer David Foster Wallace delivered a now-famous commencement address. It starts with the story of the fish in water, who spend their lives not even knowing what water is. They are naively unaware of the ocean that permits their existence, and the currents that carry them.

The most important education we can receive, Wallace goes on to explain, “isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.” He talks about finding appreciation for the richness of humanity and society. But it is the core concept of meta-cognition, of examining and editing what it is that we choose to contemplate, that has fixated me as someone who works in the tech industry.

As much as code and computation and data can feel as if they are mechanistically neutral, they are not. Technology products and services are built by humans who build their biases and flawed thinking right into those products and services—which in turn shapes human behavior and society, sometimes to a frightening degree…

It worries me that so many of the builders of technology today are people like me; people haven’t spent anywhere near enough time thinking about these larger questions of what it is that we are building, and what the implications are for the world.

But it is never too late to be curious. Each of us can choose to learn, to read, to talk to people, to travel, and to engage intellectually and ethically. I hope that we all do so—so that we can come to acknowledge the full complexity and wonder of the world we live in, and be thoughtful in designing the future of it.


TechHire Grant Provides Free Tuition and Support for Mainers to Train for Digital Careers at UNE

TechHire Grant Provides Free Tuition and Support for Mainers to Train for Digital Careers at UNE

The University of New England Academy of Digital Sciences has been chosen as a learning provider by Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI), which together with Educate Maine received a $4 million U.S. Department of Labor TechHire grant to help people upgrade their skills in the digital age. People participating in UNE’s accelerated digital sciences program may be eligible for tuition and other support services from CCWI to best position them for success.

Learn more about TechHire Maine at projectlogin.com/techhire-maine

CCWI’s TechHire grant will prepare 500 Maine people for careers in computing, digital and information technologies over four years. The Academy, which was announced by UNE in December 2016, is Maine’s first accelerated professional certificate series covering a full-spectrum of digital skills that lead from curiosity to career. It was developed in collaboration with prominent Maine businesses including IDEXX, WEX, Tyler Technologies, and L.L. Bean in order to serve as a bridge between Maine’s professional workforce and the explicitly stated needs of area employers. The UNE program is poised to work with 80 students in 2017.

“The UNE Academy will help Maine people of all ages master the soft and hard skills to enter new professions and move up in their careers,” said Jay Collier, founder and director of the UNE Academy. “We’re pleased to be doing our part to help Maine people, and the economy, thrive.

The TechHire grant is targeted to help people ages 17-29 who have great potential in digital sciences but need supports such as additional career preparation, childcare or transportation. Returning veterans and those who are under employed are also encouraged to apply.

CCWI’s Mike Bourret, Executive Director states, “this grant will help young people and other workers throughout Maine increase their competencies in Information Technology.  It is also a great opportunity for Maine employers to increase their competitiveness by obtaining a skilled workforce.”

“We are thrilled to hear the UNE Academy will be serving TechHire participants through their accelerated training program,” said Jason Judd, Project>Login Program Director at Educate Maine. “UNE’s innovative program is a wonderful resource for Maine people interested in attaining digital skills and quality employment.”

To learn more about the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences, visit http://www.une.edu/academy

To learn more about TechHire Maine free tuition and support, visit:

UNE Fast-tracks Courses in Digital Sciences to Upgrade Maine Workforce

UNE Fast-tracks Courses in Digital Sciences to Upgrade Maine Workforce

From the Portland Press Herald – 12/22/2016

The Portland campus will offer accelerated courses beginning in January to help meet employers’ need for tech-savvy workers.

The University of New England is hoping to fast-boot Maine’s employment growth in technical fields such as computer science by creating a series of accelerated courses with the help of major employers.

This week, the university’s Portland campus announced the launch of the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences, which will offer five eight-week courses beginning in January. The courses, referred to as programs, will be conducted primarily online and will cover subjects including software development, data analysis and project management. All five programs will be offered simultaneously every eight weeks….

The academy’s creator, UNE Director of Computational Digital Programs Jay Collier, said Maine does not have enough talent in the workforce to meet employers’ needs for technical jobs such as computer programmers, Web developers and database managers. He said the academy offers a way for students, recent graduates and workers employed in other fields to gain basic skills in those high-demand technical disciplines that could lead them to new careers or enhance their current ones…

“There are no guarantees of any kind,” he said, “(but) there are many people who do not know how they would be welcomed into the field. We’re trying to help people who don’t see themselves in the field because the demand is there.”

Collier said he is confident that the academy will be teaching exactly the technical skills Maine employers are looking for because it was developed with input from major employers in the state.

Some employers said they see the academy as a way to flush out those Mainers who have the potential to take on the next generation of computer and technology jobs in the state – even though they might not know it.

“We look to hire and retain talented employees and interns who possess critical thinking skills, a burning desire to solve problems, and who will be energized working in teams on meaningful projects,” said Jim Smith, chief information officer of the Maine Office of Information Technology. “In Maine we know we have this talent just waiting for programs like the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences to help them reach their fullest potential – to be career ready.”

Stephen Crowley, senior vice president and chief information officer at WEX, said the programs are needed because there are virtually no job-seeking tech workers in Maine with the needed skills.

“Unemployment is zero,” Crowley said. “We just can’t find enough qualified people.

Clarifications – 12/29/16

“Taken together, we believe two of our Fundamentals programs will provide as much career-relevant experience as a typical first-year college student would receive in the first two courses in their major.”

“We welcome anyone, 17 and above, who is curious about the Digital Sciences to learn more about the UNE Academy.”

UNE Academy Seeking New Team Members

UNE Academy Seeking New Team Members

The University of New England’s Academy of Digital Sciences is hiring! We are seeking a full-time Professional Advisor and part-time Professional Mentors to serve learners in our new accelerated programs in the digital sciences.

  • We are rapidly expanding the Academy, so please let us know of your interest and questions even before you submit a formal application! For more information, contact Mike Preble at mpreble@une.edu.

The full-time Professional Advisor will serve as a learner’s personal guide through their time in UNE’s Academy from initial inquiry to alumni engagement by helping learners assess their current skills and interests, matching them to in-demand career groups, supporting them throughout the academic and experiential program, and introducing them to participating employers.

The Professional Advisor also develops sustaining connections with technology leaders at leading Maine businesses, gaining respect for the program and maintaining employer participation.

We are also seeking 2 Professional Mentors to work up to 10 hours a week with students in Interface, Analysis, and Project Management programs to provide guidance, meaningful feedback, and relevant learning while the student works on curated business projects to enhance their education within the UNE Academy. Mentors will lead at least one live meeting a week at one of our Learning Hubs in Portland, Lewiston, or Bangor, and the remainder of learner support will be virtual via our collaboration platforms.

Ideal candidates will have deep professional experience in digital, computing, data and/or information sciences and possess the ability to convey that knowledge to a wide variety of learners.

The University of New England is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and welcomes female and minority candidates.