Fueling Our Future: Talent for the Next Generation of Technology
Posted by on December 18, 2019
Sam Gilliland is the CEO of Cherwell Software. He leads the company’s continued growth beyond IT service management (ITSM) and into new markets across the enterprise. Sam draws on his knowledge of and passion for technology to improve customer service experiences and make peoples’ lives easier. For nearly a decade, Sam led more than 10,000 employees in 60 countries as chairman and CEO of travel industry technology giant Sabre Corporation and Travelocity.com.
These are exciting times for the technology business. The global technology industry is estimated to be $5.2 trillion dollars in the coming year growing at a rate of four or five percent a year.
A Tidal Wave of Tech
Beyond the multitude of innovations that are powering progress across the private and the public sector, the career opportunities created by this industry are striking.
Case in point: in the past 25 years, one-third of new jobs created in the U.S. previously never existed, such as jobs in information technology, computer hardware, and applications. Technology advances that drive efficiency and automation have led some to worry that technology could lower the total number of career opportunities by replacing or reducing the need for human workers. On the contrary, experts estimate that for every job that may be eliminated, more than twice the number (2.4 times) are created by technology.
I’m no economist, but it seems obvious to conclude that the impact of technology on the financial fabric of our society is massive and ever expanding. As evidence, it’s hard not to notice the stock market gains led by the four famous “FANG” technology companies: Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMXN), Netflix (NFLX), and Google (GOOGL).
What do we know about what’s hot in the stock market? Where there’s economic opportunity, there are jobs.
As the chief executive of a software company, I can confidently state that our industry’s talent needs are growing, not shrinking. And, the skills we increasingly need are those tied to computing. No, not everyone needs to be an engineer, but familiarity with the fundamentals of technology—the language, the business, the culture—is essential to our workforce.
Studying for Success
Computer science (CS) degrees first emerged on the college scene in the mid 1950s and quickly rose in popularity. A startling trend emerged in the 1980s where women dramatically dropped out of the pool of CS majors. While the overall number of those pursuing CS majors has continued to increase in subsequent decades, the percentage of women and minorities has lagged significantly. There are a multitude of reasons for this incredibly complex and stifling societal problem.
I won’t delve into the causes here, but I’d like to observe that the lack of demographic diversity in CS programs has compounded an overall shortage of talent driven by the industry’s own success.
Tech companies have an imperative to improve the pipeline of talent. How do we do it? Well, I’d argue that we can:
- expand the interest in access to CS degree programs,
- increase the diversity of the candidate pool, and
- improve the rates of successful completion for all who pursue a degree.
For a growing, global company like ours, a vast diversity of backgrounds, perspectives and skills is essential. A recent study by Accenture found that when matched with a culture of equality, diversity is a key ingredient for companies to tap into the economic multiplier effect of an "innovation mindset."
A Commitment to CodePath.org
These factors are why, at Cherwell, we decided to align with an organization called CodePath.org. The nonprofit arm of a successful commercial computer training company, CodePath.org founder and CEO Michael Ellison had a vision to help ensure that anyone who wanted the opportunity to benefit from the technology boom could have it. He saw the lacking diversity within the tech workforce contrasted with the rising demand for tech workers. He also knew, firsthand, the challenge of pursuing tech as an outsider—someone of color who was socio-economically disadvantaged.
Michael combined all of this background with the CodePath secret sauce of carefully, crafted technical training courses covering the most popular aspects of computer tech. The result was a rise in completion of CS degrees by non-traditional candidates. Specifically, women, people of color, and socio-economically disadvantaged students who participated in CodePath.org’s training and mentorship programs performed markedly better in their regular classes and at staying in, and completing, their degrees.
All of this is to say that we are committed! We are committed to building a growing and diversified tech pipeline—not just to fuel our own success, but for our clients, for our industry, and…. heck, for the world.
To 2020 and Beyond!
As this decade draws to a close, there is much to celebrate about our achievements—particularly those driven by technology. And, we believe everyone deserves an equal shot at contributing to and benefitting from it. Anyone can learn to use technology to fashion a career, build a new market, or make the world a better place.
In honor of our commitment to our customers, our employees, our partners and to the field of technology, we are making a donation to our nonprofit partner, CodePath.org. This latest donation will serve to expand virtual mentoring opportunities to students globally.
We encourage you to read more about CodePath.org and other organizations that are dedicated to opening the incredible world of tech to more and more people.
From all of us here at Cherwell, here's wishing you the happiest of holidays and a wonderful New Year!
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