What’s Next in Tech Education

April is Technology Workforce Month

While technology drives so much in Minnesota’s and the world’s economy, the changes in technology education year-to-year often go unnoticed. This year, however, with the pandemic, changes in the role of technology and the way we use it to teach and learn seem to have accelerated.  Some of these changes may slow down again as the pandemic subsides, but other changes are here to stay and will impact how and what people need to learn to succeed in a technology career.

Let’s take a look at some of the technology trends that have accelerated as part of the pandemic economy. Most of these have been trending for a while, but the rapid shift of work, education, and life online has increased their importance.

First, the “digital” customer experience has become a primary driver of business success. Oftentimes a customer’s first experience with a company or brand is through their website or some online ordering app. In the pandemic, even “mom and pop” restaurants and local retailers learned this the hard way.  What does this mean for the technology workforce? These digital customer experiences are typically created by cross-functional teams of web technologists, programmers, engineers, and product owners working together, using what are called Agile development processes. Learning the technology and non-technical skills needed to thrive on an Agile digital products team will help you to thrive in the new tech workforce.

Second, newer uses of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) are altering the relationship that companies have with their customers and even their employees. Some examples? Computer applications help companies screen and select their new hires, and employees in some industries engage in virtual reality (VR) training. Development is underway on new technologies for autonomous vehicles, and some of these have introduced new ways that people interact with their cars. Perhaps an app on your phone suggests new health tips based on your past behavior. Or, when you contact customer service, you may actually be chatting with a bot. Why are all these new technologies important?  If you are interested in a career in technology, there are all sorts of new high-demand opportunities and technologies to explore. Also, the increasingly interconnected world also presents new challenges to cyber and information security, causing opportunities in this field to explode.

Finally, technology is changing the ways that we all teach and learn.  We have seen this dramatically during the pandemic as classes at most schools, colleges and universities moved online. More importantly, though, these changes mean a broader array of education and training opportunities that are possible if you want to enter the technology field. Beyond online degree programs at Minnesota State colleges and universities, there are industry certificates and certification programs that include online practice and simulations. There are coding, cyber, or data science bootcamps that can give you hands-on experience with cutting edge technologies, some offered through our Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence. For a selection of other short-term training courses and programs offered, you can also check out Skill Up Minnesota.

For more information about the Minnesota IT Center of Excellence or trends in tech education, contact wilson.garland@metrostate.edu.

To find out if you are eligible for Dislocated Worker or other programs that could help pay for training for an in-demand career, call or email staff at a CareerForce location near you today!

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