women of color in tech

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Here’s a great example of a trade association planning for the long-term growth of its industry, namely the computer technology industry.

Earlier this year, CompTIA – the Computer Technology Industry Association – launched its National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Council, featuring representatives from all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Each state’s representatives include a CTE instructor, a CTE director from another district, a representative from each state’s Department of Education, and a career advisor or guidance counselor. At the time of this writing, 42 of the 50 states have already confirmed at least one representative. Ultimately this will produce a national council of over 200 members, all contributing to the advancement of career and technical education for students preparing for a career in technology.

Given the need for cybersecurity and other technology professionals, this couldn’t be more timely. Depending upon which report you read, estimates on the number of open job requisitions in cybersecurity number from half a million to 3.5 million and more. And plenty of MSPs and MSSPs are among those looking for security and IT talent.

Security Career Program Starts Today

While there are many students already planning a career in tech, there are far more who are undecided and need to know more about careers in tech before they set their direction. Many are still deciding about whether or not to pursue a four-year college degree. Seeking certification in specific technologies to qualify for entry-level positions in six months or so is a growing trend among graduating students, returning military veterans, and returnee parents of grown children seeking new employment.

To fulfill this need for knowledge, CompTIA’s CTE program will present “Inside Perspectives: Cybersecurity Experts Share Stories from the Field” on September 22, which will:

Explore “a day in the life” of cybersecurity experts and present varying perspectives on what it takes to be successful in the field. What skills, competencies, certifications and experiences matter? Attendees will discover various pathways taken by cybersecurity experts to get them where they are today.

Key takeaways include:

  • Understanding why cybersecurity careers are so rewarding
  • Learning how cybersecurity experts landed their first jobs
  • Knowing why continuous learning is essential
  • Exploring the challenges and opportunities for successful cybersecurity careers

An Example of True Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Angel L. Pineiro, CompTIA VP of strategic academic relationships, is driving the program and helped assemble the panelists. “We have a very diverse group of panelists, including cybersecurity experts that are black, Latino, and female,” he said. “We have one who is from the Philippines. And we have another who is deaf, highly decorated with credentials, and the Director of Digital Forensics, Electronic Discovery, and Insider Risk for one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world. And the moderator is Caucasian.”

Pineiro continues, “We’re going to have live sign language interpreters and live closed captions in English so kids who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can see that technology is something that is possible for them. They will learn this not only from the panelist that is deaf, but also from the rest of this diverse group of panelists.”

Pineiro also noted the educational diversity of the group: “The six participants in this panel do have college degrees, but only one of them is in technology. Their degrees include law, English, accounting, and liberal arts.”

“You don’t have to be great at math. For many of the positions that are out there you don’t have to have a college degree. Now, I’m not saying that college is bad. In fact, there are going to be colleges in this career panel. But the fact of the matter is, not everybody can afford college. Not everybody has the resources to go to college. Many 17-year-olds don’t know exactly what they want to do. Yet they think they need to invest $100,000 to take something up in college that they may not end up doing.”

Pineiro foresees students participating in the CTE program being able to qualify for a well-paid position after six or more months instead of four years. Then they will have income and the flexibility to make further decisions about their future. Perhaps a college degree. In some cases their employer might even be willing to pay their tuition as a benefit.

“This goes to tell you that technology is for anyone,” concludes Pineiro. “It doesn’t matter what your background is, whether you’re disabled, because what does ‘disabled’ even mean these days? The fact is, if you have a desire to do something, if you’re curious about something, technology’s there, and the tools will be made available to you.”

Invitation Only For Now, But Opportunity is Available

The event itself is invitation-only. Initially the plan was to attract 500 attendees. With just two days to go before the event, at the time of this writing, almost 7,000 have already registered, all students and their teachers.

The opportunity presented to the channel is tremendous. All CompTIA seeks is your stated support for the program and you will be invited to participate, along with some of the largest corporations in the world and many top educational institutions, in helping educate young people to prepare to potentially join your company in the near future.

For more information on how your company can participate in and benefit from CompTIA’s CTE program, contact Angel Pineiro at apineiro@comptia.org.

Further reading:

Best Endpoint Security and EDR Tools for MSPs

Survey Shows Security Becoming Major MSP Focus

How to Get Started in a Cybersecurity Career