Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Choosing the right career? You'll need technology skills.

I was honored to be invited to last week's Workforce Readiness Forum at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. The forum focused on the shortage of technology skilled workers in the next ten to twenty years and the partnerships needed to address it. Workforce development leaders from across the U.S. gathered at the forum - from government agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector.

I learned a lot from this 2 day conference, which included a tour of the Microsoft Center for the Information Worker as well as an address from Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

Among the forum's discussion topics:
  • We have a serious problem in a shortage of technology skilled workers for not just employers like Microsoft, but those in manufacturing and services. And it's growing.
    • Another, more positive way of saying this is: there are now and will be great opportunities for workers with technology skills.
  • The digital divide between Americans is also growing - between people who have basic technology skills and those who do not. And those who do not have limited access to training so they stuck in low-wage jobs indefinitely.
  • To fix it is complicated: reform schools, increase training programs for adults, etc. But there are other ways to approach this issue than simply asking for more government involvement (unlikely to happen anytime soon): partnerships between the public and private sector. More about this later...
  • Funding for workforce development from the federal government has continually been cut since the primary legislation was passed in 1998. Whether or not you support it, funding for the Iraq war ($225 million per day, according to the National Priorities Project) has diverted a lot of money from domestic needs. Prior to 1998, similar federal investments in improving the U.S. workforce were also cut.
So what does this have to do with Career Key?

For ten years, we've been the only website to comprehensively offer affordable, high quality, scientifically valid tools to help people make the best career choices. That's our mission. We have expertise and our website resources to offer - it's just a matter of deciding how we can best collaborate with other partners to help the U.S. (and global) workforce meet this technology skills shortage.

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