CompTIA has predicted that the IT skills gap will grow massively in the next decade as hordes of current IT staff retire and the new generation entering the workforce snub tech in favour of pursuing glitzy careers in singing and the like.
The body said the industry is not doing enough to shout about the benefits of a career in IT and that kids today want to be singers or social media stars instead.
At CompTIA's EMEA partner conference, its chief executive Todd Thibodeaux (pictured) told CRN that many youngsters would consider joining the tech industry at a company such as Facebook, but would rather avoid joining smaller IT companies.
He said this, coupled with the fact that almost a third of the global IT workforce will retire in the next decade, means a very large problem is brewing.
"[The problem is] going to be huge," he said. "The amount of infrastructure that will be added [will be big]. We think the PC is going away but it will be around for 20 or 30 years. We will still have that but we will have the infrastructure around the Internet of Things and that will all have to be maintained. As we see the network grow, we see the amount of people coming into IT shrinking. It is a real challenge.
"Kids just don't think [IT] is a great career. Everyone wants to own their own business or be a social media star. We've done surveys among kids and the number-one thing they want to be is a singer. They need to be realistic. The industry has done a very poor job – part of our role is communicating that IT is a good career."
He said TV programmes such as The X Factor have had a "huge impact" on kids' aspirations, which has, in turn, had a detrimental effect on IT.
"People think 'I can do that' [sing on The X Factor], but no, you can't," he said. "The world of IT needs to explain things in a more use-case [oriented] way. How does Netflix use the cloud? How does Facebook use its infrastructure? How does a text message work? Things that people interact with every day. [We need] to communicate that jobs in IT are not [about] sitting behind a desk all day and there are good career paths. Parents are not encouraging kids to go into these fields. They say 'go to college' and [kids] end up with a crappy degree. There are a lot of careers where you don't need college and you can make a lot of money."
He added that when young people do consider joining the tech industry, they mainly want to work at huge corporations such as Facebook.
"In some of the research we've done, kids say 'if I can't work at one of those big companies, why bother?'" he said, adding that concerns about job security in IT is another worry for kids. "They think jobs are outsourced and they are less safe.
"Businesses need to be willing to take on people with less experience. People [think] 'if I find the exact right person, I will fill the spot'. But they are not willing to find a person and train them.
"The apprenticeship infrastructure is there to support it, but it's getting kids and companies to take the time to do it. Apprenticeships are still seen as very complicated and challenging."
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