Open Source World Opens Doors for Tech Jobs
How are tech companies, universities and high school educators building the technical workforce here in the U.S.?
The demand for tech related jobs continues to grow, but the demand outpaces the experienced and capable workforce available, especially in Maryland.
If young graduates (high school or college) have the skills and degree, they may not hold the minimal or moderate experience employers desire. Employers will endure the wait for the right candidates who fit their requirements.
In Maryland 4,514 cyber security jobs were posted in Baltimore alone in the past year and sixty percent of those positions required at least four years of experience. Where do these hungry tech professionals find experience?
Earning work experience in the open source world
Open source projects need individuals for testing, documentation, and even programming efforts to enhance projects on an ongoing basis. Contributors for these projects range in age from teenagers, college students, and university graduates. There often is no requirement for contributing other than expressing a strong interest. For example, the open source search engine DuckDuckGo needs contributors.
Higher education degrees and industry certifications are fantastic for augmenting resumes and increasing your chances of gaining a job. The open source world offers an alternative door for earning actual work experience and networking with IT professionals for minor to major companies that rely on contributors. Various companies often recruit new talent for open full-time positions directly from the consistent contributors.
This route is not an instant answer for aspiring tech professionals of any age. Nor is this a way to solve unemployment. Despite the state of Maryland’s strong foothold in the cyber security industry, openings stay open for extended periods of time since they cannot find candidates with the experience, knowledge and skills.
Cyber security is a specialized field in information technology. There’s no quick career change for jumping into this field. Yet high school and university educators, tech companies and government officials must do their part to push an adoption of tech related studies in the classroom. They must endeavor to provide individuals with the resources to develop into tech professionals to fill demand here in Maryland and the U.S.
Creating tech jobs in the U.S.
Take the company Startup Box in Hunts Point, NY as an example. They attempt to reverse the tide of outsourcing tech jobs by creating a domestic workforce for software testing. They test games and game related apps. They must compete with low ball pricing outsourced to India and the Philippines. They hold gaming tournaments and recruit gamers in the local area. This process is identified as “urban onshoring”.
Per Scholas is another program that entrenches students in tough coding classes, courses in agile development and prepares them for software testing. They must undergo a lengthy interview process to be accepted into the program. The program draws in students with diverse backgrounds and ages. Average students report a $7,000 income before entering and those graduates hired start at a $35,000 salary, earn a $10,000 raise after the first year and another $10,000 the following year. They will open an Urban Development Center in the Bronx that will employ up to 300 testers in the coming years.
This is one example of several types of educational programs designed to recreate a new technical workforce. The online MOOC platform offers computer science and even a Linux Foundation course. Udacity partnered with AT&T to create jobs through a nanodegree program. More organizations discover ways to educate and train new technical professionals eager for work. The University of Maryland holds a great cyber security program, but a degree does not guarantee a job.
In each state, more school systems must look to reform their curriculum and include computer science related concentrations. The Howard County Public schools took initiative in developing a cyber security academy. Is your local high school on the same path?