By James Mitchell

Information technology positions posted gains in the first quarter of 2015.
With an ever-expanding list of IT applications, keeping the pipeline filled may be the biggest challenge for educators in the current and future job market.

“Obviously this is a mega-trend here,” said David Corba, dean of business and information technology at Macomb Community College. “Everything in life – work and personal – is being driven more and more by technology, computers and devices. If you get on the path of an IT career you’re not locked down into any one industry.”

Compared to the first quarter of 2014, job postings in IT showed the most gains in 2015, with 45 percent growth according to the Workforce Intelligence Network. More than 6,200 additional listings were posted this year in the nine southeast Michigan counties, and IT fields outpaced health care, retail and hospitality, skilled trades and engineering.

In specific categories, there were more than 5,000 postings for software developers – including applications for mobile devices – compared to 3,707 for registered nurses.
“That’s the future and we’re trying to adapt to that,” said Tom Hendricks, dean of CIS business and IT at Oakland Community College. Hendricks said the curriculum strategy provides certification for workers through a three-pronged foundation of customer support, network support or systems support.

“Someone can take one of those tracks through training programs that are meaningful but quicker,” Hendricks said. “We’re also trying to get into game programming, app development and mobile development.”
Hendricks said that the constant change in technology’s impact across all fields requires both industry and educators to quickly adapt and keep pace. Employers have immediate needs for skilled workers with two- or –four-year degrees, but also certified in the latest developments. The school’s curriculum developers meet frequently with workforce development experts to identify and launch training programs tailored to industry needs.

“It changes faster and more significantly than any other field,” Corba said. School officials meet twice a year with a professional advisory committee, he said, “To talk about the latest and greatest going on in industry. This summer we’re running a couple of IT boot camps.”

Corba said the two sessions – one each in operating and programming – will provide industry-based certifications for graduates who have some IT background but are ready to advance and expand with the field.
“I don’t see the current market softening any time soon,” Corba said. “An IT professional can go to work for basically any organization or company in any size industry. They all need IT support.”

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