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CompTIA: Industry must do more to increase diversity

The CEO of CompTIA has urged the channel to do more to increase diversity in the industry

One of the main messages coming out of the CompTIA EMEA conference is that the IT ndustry needs to do more to attract young people from a wide variety of backgrounds into technical roles.

The industry organisation has been pushing for more women and minorities in the channel and vendor worlds and CompTIA's CEO Todd Thibodeaux used his keynote to raise the issue again.

As well as trying to get an industry that is more representative there is also a need to attract more people to try and minimise the impact of skill shortages in the channel.

"There are stereotypes that still exist that tech types are nerdy and antisocial. We need to create a new perspective by bringing out images and role models from women and minorities and not just white males," he said.

"We need a new approach because it is not just about doing a single career day because kids aren't responding to that and next week another industry will be in there," he added that this was had to be a commitment that lasted years.

He said that the industry had to share why it was exciting to work in this sector, rather than focusing on the technology itself.

"There is a call to the industry to take a different approach and participate in the process we are trying to develop," he said.

That process will take years but Thibodeaux said that efforts had to be made now to ensure that the industry was reaching out to the next generation.

The risks if the industry ignores the issue is that the next generation will head elsewhere to work in tech.

"People that might have been drawn to our industry are drawn to other opportunities, whether it is as a consultant or working in their own business. We had this steady stream of people who were dying to work in our industry but we don't have that anymore and we shouldn't assume it's ever coming back," he warned.

Last week at the Canalys Channel Forum the CEO of the analyst firm Steve Brazier highlighted the shift that many young people had made into coding rather than to develop traditional industry skills.

Brazier said that it was the responsibility of the industry to, "encourage people to go down the hardware route" and learn some of the traditional skills.

Thibodeaux said that schools were now prioritising coding above some of the other programming skills and there needed to be more of a balance.

"We have to recognise that coding is a real competitive factor in attracting people and we haven't really looked at that as a competition but we have to. They are emphasising it in schools. As we have seen tech and IT programmes de-emphasised in schools it has been because coding has been empahsised, because they think that coding teaches you skills that you can't learn anywhere else, which is not true," he said.

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