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Q&A: Todd Thibodeaux, CompTIA

Industry body’s boss was on stage this week to talk about the need for more diversity and for the channel to continue improving its skills

The last couple of days have seen the CompTIA EMEA partner event taking place in London and among other sessions on the agenda was an update from the organisation’s president and CEO, Todd Thibodeaux.

He has been an advocate of increased diversity in the industry and an acknowledgement by those creating the technology that will displace workers that they have some responsibility to help remediate those effects.

MicroScope was able to put some questions to Thibodeaux to get a sense of what was happening around those issues.

You have spoken passionately for many years about the need for more diversity in the channel. Where are we now?
We’re still not where we want to be. I think the motives are all in the right places, but we haven’t done a good enough job helping diverse candidates get over the confidence gap they have about working in tech. There are still too many leaders talking about maths, science and coding skills as prerequisites for a tech career. Plus most training programmes assume some level of knowledge to start, which is an inhibitor.

You have also warned people that the world is changing and they need to get skilled up around things like artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics. Where is the channel on those issues?
I think AI as a major job role is still a few years out, but the need to prepare our training infrastructures and systems to do rapid turnaround reskilling has never been more important. Data analytics has matured to the point where job roles are defined enough that portable credentials like the one we’re launching early next year can set people on a lifelong career path.

Work has changed and workplace transformation is being tipped by some as a channel opportunity because of devices, infrastructure and services. What is your view on that?
I think the biggest thing is through remote work, companies can now begin to recruit from a much, much larger pool of talent. The pandemic proved that remote en masse can work.

In a previous CompTIA EMEA event, you also spoke about your feeling that the industry has a responsibility to help those that might lose their jobs to robots. Is that still your message and have you seen any reaction to that message?
Yes, I still believe companies implementing AI and robotics solutions that displace large numbers of workers have a responsibility to help them find a new path. Too many think it’s a government responsibility and not a corporate one. The pandemic pushed the conversation off the front pages as many economies in the world are now facing worker shortages. That might seem like a good bargaining position for workers, but it’s also a strong incentive for employers to fast-track automation projects.

The channel seems to have grown through the pandemic and proved its worth and really shown value. All talk of it being doomed have gone. Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, is this the best time coming up for the channel?
It is – especially if your company is focused on cyber security.

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