CompTIA prepares for 2015 women in IT and skills drive

CompTIA to launch skills and role model programmes to attract more young people to the technology sector

IT trade association CompTIA is set for a busy year as it prepares to launch a range of initiatives to encourage more women and young people to consider a career in IT.

Computer Weekly caught up with Todd Thibodeaux, CEO of CompTIA, at the Cyber Security Show for an update.

In 2015 the company will be launching Skills Boost, an online programme designed to help UK schools, parents and teachers understand the range of roles available in the technology industry. This is so they can encourage young people to consider a career in the sector.

“There are still myths that need to be dispelled about working in IT - that you need to be good at maths and science and it's only for nerds,” said Thibodeaux. “There is a misconception about coders – some of the best coders in the world are self-taught and are not computer science graduates.”

He said the problem lies with the fact that some initiatives only appeal to young people who already have an interest in technology.

“More needs to be done to catch the eye of those who are not yet interested. So far the industry hasn't done a very good job in communicating that tech is fun. We need to do more to fix that,” said Thibodeaux.

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Skills Boost aims to encourage both young girls and boys into the technology sector, but CompTIA is also launching a programme this year solely focusing on girls due to the decline in women entering the industry.

Dream IT

Thibodeaux said CompTIA’s women in IT role model programme is due to launch in the UK, after success among young girls in the US.

CompTIA’s Dream IT Initiative will launch in the UK this October as part of the company’s women in IT drive.

Dream IT aims to inspire more girls and women to enter IT through a series of talks in schools. 

“It encourages women in the industry to go into schools and tell their stories,” said Thibodeaux. “There are so many role models for boys, but so few for young girls.

“We have had the programme running in the US for some time now, but it's about getting more women to come forward as most don't think they have a story to tell, but they do. It's open to all women and there's a set framework to help them.

“More diversity in technology is important as tech is no longer just about things breaking and a need to fix them. It's about bringing different systems together and I think women are better at that then men,” he added.

Cyber security training

In addition to encouraging the next generation, this October will also see CompTIA unveil Cyber Secure, a training programme for businesses to test their employees' security skills.

Thibodeaux said the programme offers “training for everyone in your company, imparting basic knowledge such as what happens when you click on a phishing email, what to do when you lose your laptop, and how to create strong passwords to bring everyone up to the base level.

“We're also doing free IT business skills assessments. That can be on cloud, mobility, security and many other disciplines, but it is to figure out where your employees are, where their strengths are and to enable businesses to see where they are as opposed to where they think they are, he said.”

Thibodeaux said such training programmes were put together after companies began to ask for assessment tools, particularly in cyber security skills. He was also asked about using it as a pre-employment assessment tool too.


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