Giving back to the communities in which we do business has always been an important value at Istonish. And while this has taken many different forms over the years, supporting efforts to build a talent pipeline for the technology industry is an important focus area. With this in mind, we are proud to provide a cash award to the Colorado Technology Association (CTA) Apex Award winner for Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Educator of The Year.Our motivations for supporting this cause include the following:
- While Colorado (the Denver/ Boulder area) ranks as a top destination for technology workers our state lacks the number of skilled workers to fuel growth. In fact, according to an October 2, 2017 Denver Post article, the region falls short in producing enough local talent in computer science, programming and other skill sets which could greatly stall growth and limit the chances of winning the bid to become the second Amazon headquarters or attract other technology companies.
- While we have some terrific universities, the number of students graduating with relevant degrees do not meet the hiring demands of the Colorado economy. In fact, as the same article states, “…Colorado’s four-year universities and colleges grant about 38,000 degrees. In the 2015-16 school year, about 7,00 were in business majors and 1,121 in computer majors…”
- These factors, combined result in a reliance on importing technical talent from other markets which could boost wages, but has an adverse affect on housing costs, traffic congestion, strained government resources, and other growth pains.
Thousands of technology jobs remain unfilled every month in Colorado. So what is the solution?
Involve more Coloradoans in technology occupations. This includes individuals that have historically not pursued tech jobs (like women, minorities and those who do not hold a four-year college degree) and finding ways to include more tech workers from rural areas of our state.
So how do we do this?
It begins with exposing high school and middle school students to the variety of technology occupations that exist. The Colorado Technology Association (CTA) in partnership with Denver Public Schools helps to coordinate work-based learning opportunities which allow students to get inside information about technology career opportunities, specifically the types of technology occupations that exist at a variety of firms. I encourage you to learn more about this valuable program.
The technology sector in Colorado needs to clearly convey to educational stakeholders what their tech talent needs are. There are a large volume of types of degree and certification programs in our state for IT related disciplines. The volume and variety of options can make it a challenge for students to choose which educational programs to invest in. I believe that Technology employers can do a better job of communicating what their needs are, and focus the options that are available. How do businesses do this? Get involved in the Colorado Workforce Develop Program and related programs. Colorado is leading the nation in pioneering innovative apprenticeship programs.
Related to this, Colorado is leading the nation in pioneering innovative apprenticeship programs. Specifically, these are modeled after European programs that take interested high school students through structured training (as informed by employers), and includes related work experience. The combination of school training, coupled with work experience contributes to meeting high school graduation requirements. It also directly positions students into the work force, and helps employers cultivate a solid stream of Tech workers for their teams. Careerwise Colorado is the program to link to if you are interested.
We need effective and INSPIRING educators in Colorado high schools and middle schools. All too often, we undervalue the important role that great teachers play in changing the lives of our children. Couple this dynamic with extraordinarily constrained funding for equipment and software that is needed to teach important technology curriculum and you can understand how difficult it is for educators to be successful. It is for this reason that Istonish is pleased to reward the winner of the CTA Apex Educator Of The Year award. The proceeds of this award provide funding for educators to purchase supplies, equipment or software to support their STEM teaching activity. Because it can be difficult to directly offer donations to educators, DonorsChoose is a great web site for directing contributions.
In summary, if we are going to secure the economic vitality of our community, we need to invest in each other. Education is one of the most important ways we can do this. Please find ways to get involved.