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Topic: New Skills for Changing Economy
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
New Skills for Changing Economy
Posted: Aug 22, 1999 3:46 PM
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InfoWorld, June 28, 1999 p. 58

Peer To Peer -- Philip Cruver

New skills for a changing economy: We must start teaching our children well

As the world becomes increasingly digital, will getting an IT certification
become as important as earning a diploma? There is clear evidence that
traditional education has led to higher pay and better jobs in the 20th
century, but what about the need for technical education in the 21st
century? Could the "three Rs" (reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic) of the
industrial economy be supplanted by the "three Ws" (World Wide Web) of the
new economy?

As the networked economy becomes dominated by electronic commerce, more
sophisticated technology skills will be in demand.

In addition, the proliferation of broad-band distribution pipes followed by
the emergence of an entertainment economy will require multimedia talent.
This will lead to an overwhelming demand for "Web artisans" to develop the
required business, marketing, and communications systems. Unfortunately,
these workers are scarce.

Demand for skilled workers

Our nation must move quickly to provide the programs and resources to help
close the technology-skills gap - a gap that has left more than 10 percent
of all technology-related jobs unfilled in the United States and is
threatening the country's economic vitality.

The current IT workforce in the United States is reported to be 3,354,000
people, including programmers, system analysts, and computer engineers.
There are approximately 346,000 positions open today. The critical problems
of America's "missing in action" IT professionals could place the country's
competitive position at a severe risk. Tragically, IT courses targeting our
youthful workforce are virtually nonexistent.

Web commerce

The data above doesn't consider the demand for Web workers in e-commerce.
Forrester Research predicts that worldwide sales for e-commerce may reach
$3.2 trillion in 2003 - or about 5 percent of all global sales. Where will
we get the skilled workers to create and manage this booming Web storefront
market? Today's "Generation Y" is 60 million strong. They're growing up
digital in an analog educational system that doesn't have the resources to
teach them the skills they will need to compete in this emerging
multitrillion-dollar marketplace.

Certification rewards

In today's high-tech environment, skill certification is the best way for
companies to learn if an applicant has "the right stuff." There are more
than 300,000 Microsoft Certified Professionals and almost 500,000 Novell
Certified NetWare Engineers. With the current stock of highly trained,
highly skilled technical experts at critically low levels, Microsoft
Certified System Engineers average $67,000 per year. Those who can pass the
grueling Cisco certification can command salaries starting at about

In the 1999 Jobs Rated Almanac, the top-rated job, in terms of workplace
environment, income, future prospects, physical demands, job security, and
stress, is the Web site manager, at a $75,761 midrange salary.

Young Web artisans

Today's certification programs are vendor-specific and exclusively target
adults. If our next generation of knowledge workers is to fuel the new
economy, they must get certified in many additional IT skills. As the Web
replaces television, multimedia and animation skills will grow in demand.
Most Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco certified professionals haven't a
creative clue about how to create images and sounds that communicate
dynamic ideas over digital networks.

The solution to this problem is to train and certify the millions of
teenagers who have greater aptitude than most adults for mastering highly
technical multimedia skills. Could this untapped resource fill the
technology workforce gap and fuel the new economy?

Philip Cruver is a serial entrepreneur who is launching his sixth start-up
company. He can be reached at
Calling all peers -- Peer to Peer is written by and for InfoWorld
readers. Send your submissions to Opinions Editor Kristin Kueter at
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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