US Technology Skills Gap: Fact or fiction?

Live webcast features panel including CEOs from SAS and Red Hat, NC community college system president, and author Gary Beach

Is a widening "skills gap" in science and math education threatening America's future? Some claim this skills gap is equivalent to a permanent national recession, while others cite how the gap threatens America's future economic stability, workforce employability and national security.

This will be the topic of a presentation and panel featuring SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst, North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) President Dr. Scott Ralls and Gary Beach, author of  The US Technology Skills Gap.

Co-hosted by analytics software provider SAS and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the event will take place at the SAS world headquarters in Cary, NC, on Nov. 21. The presentation and panel will be webcast live from 3-4:30 p.m. ET. 

The conversation will focus on the existence of a skills gap, a vexing dilemma facing many nations around the world. Beach will share key findings from his book research and will moderate a lively discussion about the skills gap.

"There are many opinions on the skills gap," said Beach. "Employers claim they cannot fill positions because job applicants do not have the required skills. Wall Street analysts claim America's persistently high unemployment rates will continue until our nation solves the skills gap."

The panelists will address questions such as:

  • What are the skills needed in the 21st century work environment?

  • How should public education be restructured to teach these skills?

  • What responsibility do business leaders and IT executives have to train workers?

  • How do we measure progress?

SAS relies on a strong stream of statistical and analytics talent to meet its own, and its customers', workforce needs. The company is an ardent supporter of initiatives that generate the next generation of STEM talent, often by collaborating with schools and universities.

"The lack of science and math skills among our nation's students is one of the greatest threats to American competitiveness," said Goodnight. "Partnerships between industry and education are critical to insuring our students enter the workforce with the most relevant and valuable skills."

Whitehurst believes organizations, especially technology organizations, must do their part to help foster an early interest in STEM by supporting mentorships and programs that teach kids coding skills early in their education.

Whitehurst added, "STEM education provides opportunities to our young people but just as important, our economy depends on a growing workforce equipped with the technological and creative skills our businesses will need to stay competitive in the 21st century workplace."

Red Hat places a similar emphasis on supporting STEM initiatives, particularly around women in IT. "The National Center for Women and Information Technology found that labor analysts predict by 2018, US employers will only be able to fill half of the 1.4 million available computer jobs with candidates holding a bachelor's degree in computer science," said Whitehurst.

Ralls has spent his career bolstering the talent pipeline from high school to the workforce. Almost one-third of the Early College High Schools in the US are located on North Carolina community college campuses. Early college high schools blend high school and college in a rigorous program, compressing the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college. In addition, under Dr. Ralls' leadership, the NCCCS has undertaken a systemwide data initiative focused on gathering meaningful, accurate data to better link the system's efforts to workforce needs and to measure student success.

"With our colleges' distinct blend of early colleges, technical education and industry-specific training, we have a unique perspective on the issues involved in the skills gap discussion locally, statewide and nationally," said Ralls. "No single formula will solve these issues. They require collaboration by business, education and elected leaders, and thoughtful, data-driven assessment and response."

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 70,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW® .

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