IT Jobs: Tapping Teens to Fill the Gap RRS feed

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  • A Memphis summer program has had great success in stirring up interest in technology among students. After realizing that college was too late to get students interested in a career in computing, Society for Information Management (SIM) founder John Oglesby collaborated with a Memphis library to create Teen Tech Week. "We put together a program with SIM helping guide the curriculum, and the library doing all the heavy lifting," said Oglesby. Students ages 12-15 can apply for the program, which was kicked off by an orientation for students and parents that explained the opportunities available due to the current shortage of IT workers. Each program day began with a presentation by a SIM member and then introduced the "bright shiny object" of the day, new technology intended to attract attention and interest. The culmination of the project was a webcast for the library's "Teen Web Page." Three years later, the program is heavily codified and has spread to other cities. Meanwhile, public schools in Naperville, Ill., started its own IT curriculum and certification program almost 10 years ago, but in five years realized that enrollments had fallen from 100 students to eight students, and that only 1 percent of the students were passing the Cisco certification test administered by the program. Organizers realized that they had done the students "a disservice," says Naperville school technology specialist Brett Thompson, who then wrote a graduate thesis inspiring schools nationwide to change the way they teach technology. The Naperville program then began using materials from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), and enrollment has increase by a factor of five in the networking class alone. Students that have received certification can now make money repairing computers and in summer jobs. "Even if the kids don't pursue an IT career, at least they are smarter consumers," says Thompson.
    Thursday, April 12, 2007 7:02 AM