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.

From

Tyler Technologies Seeks Talent at the Academy

Tyler Technologies Seeks Talent at the Academy

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

First Session Academy Learner Accepts Paid Internship at IDEXX

First Session Academy Learner Accepts Paid Internship at IDEXX

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.”

The Nature of Work – Maine Workforce Outlook 2012-2022

The Nature of Work – Maine Workforce Outlook 2012-2022

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.

Growing Occupations: Critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, mathematics, reading comprehension, deductive reasoning, processing information, analyzing data

Declining Occupations: Machinery operation, equipment inspection, tool selection, physical strength, following instructions, manual dexterity, 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 Parts of America Most Susceptible to Automation

The Parts of America Most Susceptible to Automation

Excerpt from The Atlantic — May 2017

The authors estimate that almost all large American metropolitan areas may lose more than 55 percent of their current jobs because of automation in the next two decades. “We felt it was really stunning, since we are underestimating the probability of automation,” said Johannes Moenius, the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, which prepared the report.

The power of machine learning means that programmers with large data sets can use them to make machines smarter, allowing them to do non-routine tasks; for example, oncologists are using data from medical journals and patient records to automatically create treatment plans for cancer patients. “It is largely already technologically possible to automate almost any task, provided that sufficient amounts of data are gathered for pattern recognition,” the authors write…

While a handful of cities with good jobs and highly educated workers will continue to thrive, other areas are going to see more and more jobs disappear as automated technologies become ever better. This may have much wider implications, politically and socially. People in America’s struggling regions feel left behind economically, as the 2016 election indicated. But the anger that motivated many voters in November may pale in comparison to what comes next, if some regions see two-thirds of their jobs disappear while other areas continue to thrive…