Postsecondary IT Degree Completions on the Rise in Colorado

Levi Thiele, Research Director
March 11, 2014

The number of information technology (IT) and computer science (CS) degrees and certificates awarded in Colorado in the 2011-2012 academic year has increased substantially. A total of 2,589 degrees and certificates in the field of IT were awarded in Colorado, a 20.08% increase from the previous year. This represents the highest number of IT degrees and certificates awarded in the past five years.

Women are still lagging behind men in IT degree completions. Although women earned more IT degrees and certificates in Colorado in 2012 than they have in any of the previous five years, their share of IT degrees has been on the decline since 2009. The majority of IT degrees, both in Colorado and at the national level, are still earned by men. In fact, only 21% of the total number of IT degrees and certificates in Colorado in 2012 were awarded to women.

Bachelor’s degrees remain the most common degree or certificate awarded in Colorado in the field of IT, though there have been recent increases in the number of master’s degrees and pre baccalaureate certificates awarded. The five most popular degrees and certificates in the field of IT included: (1) Computer and Information Sciences – General, (2) Computer Science, (3) Computer / IT Administration and Management, (4) Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications, and (5) Computer Software and Media Applications.

For more information about the IT pipeline or AIM’s other research studies, visit
http://aimforbrilliance.org/insights.

Internships revivedl

It seems that many of the people that we have been talking to across the company have indicated that there is a renewed interest in internships and internship programs. I believe that this is a great way to help students to understand employment before graduation, but it may be more than that.

Over the course of years we have been talking a lot about creating a pipeline for individuals to fill positions in information technology careers. This may be the next big recruitment strategy for every company’s next workforce. Most companies use the program now as a way to test out individuals to see if they have what it takes to fit into the culture and be a productive part of their team. Once a person is in your company and has the promise of established employment, it is more than likely that the individual will stay even after the education process ends. It’s a test run, if you will.

The student gets a test run as well. They get the opportunity to decide if they are getting the right fit for their career aspirations as well. The days of paying your dues, getting coffee and copies by the interns are long over. More is expected of the company by the student, who wants to contribute now. Those dreams of being a part of a company that values them as a productive part of the mission can either be solidified or demolished. They may find out they are prepared for the next step or need to go back to school for some more education.

The problem often occurs that most internship programs may not have the others agenda in mind and fail to be beneficial in any way to both parties. Without the right structure, this can be a quagmire from the very start. That is why the renewed interest also needs to meet with a new internship structure. Companies need to work the student’s needs into their programs and students need to meet the company’s expectations before they start this important endeavor.

Several of our local advisory board members have requested this as a topic of conversation and professional development series. They currently are struggling to determine how to approach this in the most effective way. Later this month, we will be kicking off the first of these conversations in Chattanooga with our speaker series. We have educational institutions, business with internships programming, and community leaders involved in the conversation and we are looking forward to new information. As things progress, we will work to be on top of this topic and make sure each of our satellites are privy to the best information from all our locations.

The Future Is Bright For 3-D Printing

by Dave Coover, AIM

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to view a 3-D printer at work, you really need to seek one out soon if you’d like to peer into the future. Although the concept of 3-D printing sounds complex, it’s really very similar to a commonplace inkjet printer. Rather than spraying ink droplets out of its nozzles, a 3-D printer’s nozzles are fed with composite resin that dries quickly to produce a solid object.

The 3-D printers that I’ve had the opportunity to watch in action so far have been for something “less than industrial” use, such as for the very slow creation of keychain fobs and army men. But these technologies always begin small and quickly scale themselves.

As this technology moves into the mainstream, the price of the printing units is sure to drop and the production capability will expand. One noticeable advantage of 3-D printing is that the machinery itself is portable, thus allowing allowing car and agricultural implement dealers to “print” their own parts as needed rather than keeping a large inventory on hand.

This new model of highly flexible, small-scale manufacturing has big implications for countries like China and Malaysia that have leveraged themselves around huge, repetitive mass manufacturing contracts. This could very well lead to a new economic shift as small-scale manufacturing jobs begin to find their way back to our shores as 3-D technology evolves and matures. Here are some interesting uses of 3-D printers:

1. Medicine: Parts for soft-tissue organs (ear, eye, ligaments) will be custom manufactured on an individual basis as well as hip, skull and jaw implants.

2. Military: Parts for machinery will be created within the remote theatre resulting in shorter transit time. Cloaked factories where parts can be produced will return us to the “Roswell” days where military secret projects can be conducted with fewer parts from civilian manufacturers.

3. Electronics: 3-D printing lends itself very well to intricate, small-scale electronic devices. Harvard University researchers have fabricated tiny batteries that are able to power insect-sized robots using 3-D printing techniques.

4. Jewelry: Jeweler’s techniques that have existed for centuries will be abandoned as 3-D printers begin to quickly create intricate chains, bracelets and necklaces that previously took great skill and a great deal of time.

5. Homebuilding: Prototype homes have already been created that utilized a concrete version of a 3-D printer that can frame an entire home in about one day. This technique sequentially adds layer upon layer of concrete for the walls, while leaving open conduits in the walls for plumbing, electricity, and HVAC.

Join us at AIM | Infotec to see 3-D printing firsthand in the all-new TryIT Zone! Conference registration is now open and reduced early bird pricing is available through March 15th. There is also still time to secure a conference sponsorship and a limited number of exhibit booths still remain.

Further Reading:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ehrlichfu/2013/10/29/our-future-with-3-d-printers-7-disrupted-industries/

http://hbr.org/2013/03/3-d-printing-will-change-the-world/

Are Career Fairs Obsolete? Obsoletely, NOT!

When the recession started in the early 2000s, career fairs became an increasingly popular recruiting tool among employers because they were able to meet and select the best applicants out of the hundreds to thousands of job seekers in attendance.

Because of advanced capabilities of online recruitment tools, like AIM Career Link, some may believe career fairs are old-fashioned. Conversely, experts agree that career fairs are alive and well. Career fairs continue to play an important role in the recruiting process by providing opportunities for job seekers to check out a variety of companies and for employers to connect with several candidates, face-to-face, without the bother of scheduling interviews (Forbes). Ryan Kahn, author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, agrees that career fairs are still relevant, but, he always advises candidates against relying solely on them.

Career fairs are indeed beneficial since a large number of employers are gathered in one location to showcase their organization and offer a platform to meet prospective job seekers; however, with nearly 7% unemployment there is increased competition in the marketplace for open positions and career fairs alone are not enough to get a candidate hired. This is why AIM’s Career Link Job Fair offers job seekers opportunities to connect with prospective employers and programs designed to provide the knowledge and skills they need to reach their career goals.

The Career Link Job Fair offers more than just exhibitor booths for job seekers to discuss employment opportunities with organizations. The Career Link Job Fair provides networking opportunities, personal development via training seminars, and information on how to develop an online profile. Find your next career with Career Link.

Year Starts Strong for Nebraska

AIM WorkForce Index – January 2014
Dr. Robert Sweeney

AIM’s January 2014 Work Force Index (WFI) rose sharply to 65.8, up from 58.7 in December. The WFI is a statistically based measurement tool that is a ratio of unique jobs posted on AIM Careerlink and the Nebraska seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. The Index can range between 0 and 100%. An Index below 50% indicates short-term economic contraction while an Index above 50% forecasts economic expansion. Declining Nebraska unemployment levels in December helped keep the WFI well above the growth neutral level of 50.0. Nebraska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% in December. During January, the activity on Careerlink trended upward by nearly every measure. The number of Unique Companies posting jobs increased 5.3% and the daily Average Number of Jobs posted rose by 0.3% during the month. Overall, the first month of 2014 suggest that the Nebraska economy remains quite strong.

For more information, the full WFI report is available here.

Is College Really Worth the Cost?

Levi Thiele, Research Director
February 11, 2014

The soaring cost of college tuition may cause some to question the value of a college degree. In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, college graduates outperformed their peers with less education in virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment. A few of the key findings of the study include:

● College degrees are worth more today than ever before. The gap in earnings between those with college degrees and those without is wider for Millennials than for any previous generation.
● Millennials with college degrees have lower unemployment and poverty rates than less-educated peers.
● College graduates are more satisfied with their jobs.
● College graduates say college is worth the investment, despite the soaring costs of college tuition.

median

Recognizing the value of a college degree, AIM offers Graduate Twice programs that help students not only succeed in high school but to visualize and prepare for a bright future in college. For more information about AIM’s youth programs, visit http://aimforbrilliance.org/youth.

CES 2014 Roundup

Dave Coover
January 22, 2014

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held recently in Las Vegas, NV.  This show is the technophile’s “Mecca” for all things in electronic wizardry, and a good glimpse of what to expect in the stores in the coming year.  If you were unable to attend CES this year, all is not lost!  AIM’s Infotec Conference (April 15-16) will feature many of these electronic goodies in its all-new TryIT Zone.  More information on the largest Business Technology Conference in the Midwest is available at www.infotec.org.  In the meantime, take a moment to check out these great reviews of CES 2014:

Tech Cruch (Best of CES):  http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/12/the-best-of-ces-2014/

Forbes (CES From A Woman’s Perspective): http://www.forbes.com/sites/gaygaddis/2014/01/21/ces-2014-a-womans-perspective/

Engadget (Household Roundup):  http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/11/-ces-2014-household/

The Web is a Black Hole for Sales Productivity

By: Corey DeJong

Do you often find your sales team getting lost in research prior to making their sales calls? It has become commonplace for the salesperson to gather as much knowledge about a customer and contact that they can prior to calling upon a customer. This practice allows the salesperson to have a general needs assessment complete before first contact which allows them to give verbal cues and allows them to ask subject matter questions that helps gain trust that builds relationships with clients. With that being said, this practice can cripple a salesperson’s productivity chasing snippets of information that may or may not be available just so the call isn’t as “cold.” According to research, by online media company insideview.com, “65% of a salesperson’s time is spent not selling.”

 

Enter Social Selling: The availability of information and access to decision makers is increasing on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. The prospects themselves have placed their data and access to contacting them in public view. Using these sites to obtain a snapshot of a company and a contact can decrease research time up to 50%, according to insideview.com, and leave more time for selling.

 

Social selling is beneficial for ongoing engagement with prospects and potential customers as well. Salespeople can nurture a prospect through social media by sharing relevant industry news by tweeting at them or messaging them through private messaging channels on other sites. As a salesperson increases their LinkedIn network it allows them to share general news about the organization they’re selling for to increase brand awareness and client trust with the organization.

 

Start training your sales staff on these procedures to increase their productivity and increase

engagement with your organization’s prospects.

Lean Customer Service

By:  Victoria Graeve-Cunningham, Director of Lean Operations

In the past, Lean has been primarily considered as a production practice. Because the philosophy of Lean is simply focusing on adding value to customers in the most productive way, it can and should be applied to any operational activity. Recognizing this, many business areas have already adopted using aspects of Lean methodology. A new and dynamic area now using Lean is sales and service.

Lean sales is being utilized to increase profitability by improving the sales operations process and advancing product development. The customer experience and opportunities does not stop once the customer receives the product. According to SalesForce:

  • 81% of consumers are more likely to give a company repeated business after good service

  • A 5% increase in customer retention increases profits up to 125%

  • A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%

  • It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one

Not only is the cost of doing business with repeat customers low, but satisfied customers tend to spend more and make recommendations to new potential customers; therefore, customer retention is vital to any organization. It is imperative that companies go beyond a focus on Lean sales and begin to encourage customer service departments to practice Lean thinking.

Lean thinking includes becoming customer centered, engaging people around Lean processes, and continuously improving and innovating processes and products. Because customer service is adding value by building relationships, becoming customer centered is intuitively accomplished; consequently, the emphasis on incorporating Lean in customer service is on understanding flow and improvement opportunities.

Considering customer service representatives are most valuable when they are working with customers directly, the challenge is taking the time to review and improve processes for value-added activities to optimize quality, cost, and speed. A way to ease into improvement is fostering a transparent environment where employees can easily share just-in-time customer experiences.

This transparent environment is created by having an open forum for collaborative communication where evidence-based decision making is used. Involving the front line operators is important, but it should not require pulling people out of the field for extended training sessions or meetings; instead, a short stand-up meeting where status updates can be shared quickly will suffice. Furthermore, it is beneficial to have a quick visual of customer satisfaction, which can be accomplished by displaying a dashboard that highlights key metrics, to guide the conversation. At the very least, when obstacles are discussed, using root cause analysis for problem resolution helps to identify the appropriate corrective action and prevents problem recurrence.

Many companies have been successful in executing Lean and gaining obvious benefits. It is now time to use Lean philosophy in customer retention. Especially, because the core idea of Lean is rooted in maximizing customer value.

 

Best Tech Jobs of 2014

By: Levi Thiele

February 6, 2014

U.S. News and World Report recently released their 100 Best Jobs of 2014 list. Nine of these jobs are in IT, including the one at the #1 spot. The study rated jobs on a variety of factors, including employment opportunity, good salary, manageable work-life balance, and job security. The top tech jobs are listed below with their median annual salaries. A copy of the full report is available here.

 

#1 Software Developer ($90,060 median annual salary)

#4 Computer Systems Analyst ($79,680)

#9 Web Developer ($62,500)

#11 Information Security Analyst ($86,170)

#12 Database Administrator ($77,080)

#24 IT Manager ($120,950)

#30 Computer Programmer ($74,280)

#52 Computer Systems Administrator ($72,560)

#78 Computer Support Specialist ($59,090)

 

For more information about open technology positions in your local area, visit Careerlink.com – the go to source for IT jobs.