IT is everywhere.
That’s one driving message of IT-oLogy, which is redefining what technology careers look like for South Carolina school-aged children and their parents. The nonprofit collaborative of schools, universities, organizations and businesses creates lines of sight to tech-related careers.
The collaborative started in South Carolina and has branches in Columbia and Greenville, with recent expansions to Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas. In Columbia, school children take part in Cyber Saturdays and other hands-on programs in dedicated space where professional tech user groups hold their meetings.
The collaborative in October 2013 scored big with an agreement from South Carolina public universities to “strongly encourage” all students to earn a digital design minor and turbo-charge their majors, says Lonnie Emard, IT-oLogy’s president.
“We have a collaborative environment, a cohesive ecosystem where academia and the private sector work hand and hand,” he says, noting that college enrollment in tech-related fields is up.
The shortage of skilled tech talent is no secret. Yet misconceptions about what a “tech job” can be linger. Preconceptions that an IT career requires deep coding knowledge, math wizardry or systems networking are outdated.
Yes, scores of those jobs exist and pay handsomely. With technology embedded nearly everywhere, however, employers need project managers, writers, analysts and other problem-solvers who are simply tech-savvy. IT-oLogy has programs for teens, college students, educators and tech professionals but can make a big impact among young learners.
“You can be a project manager with great communication skills and make great money. And you’ll never be unemployed,” says Todd Lewis, executive director of the Columbia iT-oLogy branch. “When kids hear that message, they are very receptive to it. So are their parents.”