Last week I testified at the Colorado Senate Education Committee Meeting in support of some important legislation for computer science education. The bills passed with a slim majority and everyone’s voice mattered. The panels included amazing students from St. Vrain Innovation Center, leaders from Colorado Succeeds, and peer entrepreneurs from companies like Silicon STEM Academy. From my personal perspective, I’ve been hiring business and technical talent for the last two decades – and have seen firsthand how the workforce needs have shifted. Technology has been driving job creation and education simply hasn’t kept pace. Digital literacy and technical competencies aren’t just required for programmers but are necessary across nearly every single job category manifesting what’s called “hybrid jobs”.
Many jobs traditionally viewed as non-technical have become increasingly more so. I spoke specifically about how the marketing profession has seen some of the largest evidence of hybridization. As a marketing undergrad, we learned things like market research and statistics, psychology and behavioral science, and the 4 P's: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. Today the marketing profession requires hybrid employees with a combination of business and technology with a heavy reliance on math and technical skills. Skilled marketers are experts in HTML, multi-media production, and data analytics. Yesterday’s marketing managers are todays User Experience Designers, Web Developers, and Data Scientists.
This past fall I was talking to Burning Glass about my observations and they pointed me to a research report that had been recently released entitled Blurring Lines: How Business and Technology Skills Are Merging to Create High Opportunity Hybrid Jobs. The report shows that between April 2014 and March 2015 there were 250,000 new hybrid positions opened which advertised salaries well above the national average (starting salaries of $65,000 to $111,000 per year). Hybrid jobs and the consumerization of IT are forcing us to reshape workforce readiness efforts across the nation. Computer science education in our schools should not be reserved for the few. Business people need technology skills just as much as technologists need leadership and communication skills.