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.”
With offices in Falmouth and Bangor, as well as across the U.S., Tyler Technologies is one of Maine’s premier employers and a UNE Academy of Digital Sciences partner. Helping inform the Academy’s curriculum and model, partners like Tyler are key to our learners’ success. Tyler Vice President Angela Gaudreau knows that the success of programs like the Academy is key for her company’s growth here in Maine and beyond.
“As a technology company with an employment projection of 10% growth for the foreseeable future, Tyler Technologies understands the need for current technical skills in the workforce,” says Vice President, Angela Gaudreau. “UNE’s Academy of Digital Sciences meets this need, providing a valuable resource for students and providing employers with a workforce that has the necessary skills and qualifications.”
Tyler Technologies is the largest U.S. software company solely focused on providing integrated software and technology services to the public sector — cities, counties, states and school districts. Tyler creates, delivers and supports software solutions and services that help local governments and schools manage complex, day-to-day business functions. With a wide clientele and broad product portfolio, Tyler’s team includes project managers, software engineers and developers, user experience designers, and data analysts; Tyler also offers internships in all of its function areas. The UNE Academy of Digital Sciences encourages students to identify their passions so they can identify a career path the suits their goals and serve employers’ needs.
“Programs like UNE’s Academy of Digital Sciences is unique in that its curriculum is a collaborative effort between Maine’s technical employers and the Academy, lending it the credibility and viability not found in traditional technical or digital programs,” says Gaudreau. “It includes hands-on mentorship from participating employers, while offering the flexibility and accessibility of an online accelerated format that will ensure traditional as well as non-traditional students learn the skills that match the growing number of technical jobs here in Maine.”
For more information about Tyler Technologies go to: tylertech.com
For more information about the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences go to: une.edu/academy
Sam Saleh is on the move. After completing the Digital Essentials course at UNE’s Academy of Digital Sciences, Sam has accepted a paid internship at IDEXX Laboratories in the company’s IT department.
Sam has always been interested in learning about computers, programming and understanding how they work. While he did not receive a college degree, he took time to teach himself programming and general computer troubleshooting and share his knowledge of computers with others over the course of many years while working construction. He had wanted to make the shift to a tech career but had thought it would require a four-year computer science program. The UNE Academy of Digital Sciences was exactly what he was looking for.
“Computers have always amazed me. The things that they are capable of and how fast things advance in technology is quite mind blowing. I wanted to widen my view on technology. It amazes me that while you think you have a strong understanding of something there is always that next level of thinking. Working with everyone in this program really gives you a different perspective and opens your mind to different ideas and interpretations which has been amazing for me.”
Sam met a range of employers at the Academy’s Roundtable meeting in March. The Roundtable is a professional networking event held at the beginning of every session. Ten to 15 employers meet students starting or completing Academy courses, discover shared interests and opportunities and, when there’s a match, begin the process of investigating positions, including paid internships. Sam’s communication skills, enthusiasm and curiosity landed him his first paid internship where he will have the opportunity to explore many IT roles within a large company.
While he brings his own passions and ambitions to the internship, Sam’s mind is open to the possibilities. “The things I already know are a very small portion of the capabilities of technology. So while I may have my sights set on development, I will also keep in mind the other aspects such as UI and strategy. From one set of skills there are multiple paths one could take.”
Sam’s willingness to consider new and unexpected pathways and his hunger to learn served him well in the Academy and will help him succeed in the workplace. “While it is very hard to picture where you would be in the future, I do have a general idea of what my path will be. I believe that I will successfully get into the industry but will have to prove my worth over an extended period of time before moving into any specific fields. I do hope that I will work on some innovative projects and be able to leverage my creativity to create new and exciting things.”
Excerpts from the Maine Department of Labor— January 2015
The nature of work increasingly demands higher levels of literacy and more sophisticated technology competencies.
The primary performance attributes of jobs in growing occupations are concentrated around critical thinking, problem solving, reading comprehension, effective communication, and decision making.
Those contrast with the primary work activities or knowledge requirements of occupations that are expected to have the highest rates of job loss, which include handling and moving objects, controlling machines, repairing and maintaining equipment, and clerical functions.
Report after report over the last two decades from educational, trade, and other interest groups exhorted the need to educate more people for STEM* jobs. Many portray an impending shortage of workers in highly skilled, well-paying science, technology, engineering, and math based occupations. Most treat STEM jobs as a homogeneous group with similar growth prospects. The problem with these characterizations is that there is a great deal of diversity of functions and an equally wide range in growth prospects not only between science and technology, for example, but also the range of occupations within sciences, within technology, within engineering, and within mathematics. The variety of STEM occupations creates very different growth prospects. Under the Standard Occupational Classification system used by economic agencies to classify and count jobs there are 653 occupations in which there is employment in Maine and for which we have developed projections. Of that number, 181 occupations are designated as STEM by either the O*Net consortium or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Collectively, the number of jobs in those 181 occupations is expected to rise 6.5 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is nearly three times the rate for all occupations. The expected gain of 6,800 jobs in STEM occupations accounts for 46 percent of expected net job growth. Individually, 107 of those STEM designated occupations are expected to grow faster than average, another 13 are expected to grow more slowly than average, and 61 are expected to be unchanged or lose jobs. Like other types of functions, slowly growing or declining STEM occupations generally are those being impacted by new or changing technologies that are improving or replacing processes… *Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
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.
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.”
Discussions about knowledge, skills and abilities—and the skills gap writ large—inevitably devolve into a dichotomy of “hard” and “soft” skills. Somehow, institutions of higher education teach those soft skills and the ability to learn how to learn for a lifetime. Jobs, on the other hand, teach you hard skills—implying a narrower kind of learning experience. Critics argue that employers should therefore own all training by keeping workers au courant of “useful knowledge and skills” for our rapidly evolving markets. College is much better-suited, as McCully argues, for the “permanent and characteristic mission of higher education,” or things that do not go “in and out of fashion with changes in economies or technologies.”
But these distinctions don’t help anyone—least of all, the student. Both employers and schools must enable people to skill up in both ways. By 2020, the U.S. economy will create 55 million job openings; 24 million will be entirely new positions. Many of these jobs (48%), according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, will be less physically intensive and instead emphasize skills like active listening as well as leadership, communication, analytics and administration competencies.
We need a GitHub for competencies in education and the workforce.
As part of a panel called “What Credentials Do Employers Really Care About?”, David Leaser, IBM’s Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives, spoke about changes in the 21st-century workplace and new approaches to talent attraction and development, including open badges. He shared with us slides from his similar presentation to the Association for Talent Development.