While severe talent shortages have been well documented and widely reported on for a few years now, we should become concerned upon learning that the majority of top IT employers are either looking toward machines or workers overseas to solve the skill gap, instead of local talent. Somehow, despite the fact that many tech giants are located in densely populated and highly educated communities, such as Silicon Valley or Boston, it would appear that local talent isn't capable enough to help them reach their company objectives.
But, how could our country's top IT companies be experiencing a talent shortage if Americans are more educated than ever, graduating from Universities in record numbers—at the all-time highest rate since the study began?
As demand for specialized labor and hard skills has increased, the once-coveted Bachelor's degree has lost the clout and prestige that it held in previous generations. This may not become obvious upon enrollment, or even upon graduation, but it certainly rings true when it comes time to apply to a job in technology. While our grandparents may have secured their first job by walking into an employment office with a diploma in hand, our child’s experience probably won't be the same. The job market has changed radically in the past few decades.
However, despite all the change, today's university curriculum looks quite similar to what the past two or even three generations may have studied. With antiquated books and lectures that lag behind in terms of relevance, it's no wonder why our educational system is no longer capable of preparing students to join the modern, tech-driven workforce. For a system whose exorbitant costs hinge upon the claim of netting your child their first job and serving as an investment in their future career, it's becoming increasingly difficult to justify the price of a 4-year college degree.
The problems go even deeper to the level of primary and secondary education. Schools aren't effectively teaching our students STEM fundamentals—the foundation they need to succeed in a world dominated by technology. On the global stage, our students are increasingly less prepared to compete, as many other countries have surpassed us in equipping students for the future. To illustrate this point, every high school student in China is expected to learn how to code, while just 5% of American students reach the same level upon completing high school.
Even as you read this article, the chasm between what is being taught at educational institutions and what top tech companies expect new employees to know continues to widen, while developing nations catch up. Despite attempts at US educational reform via bureaucratic efforts, progress remains slow, and not enough is being done to replace outdated curriculum or start new programs. However, as talent shortages hit their highest point since 2008, the show simply must go on—with or without the help of state-funded schools.
With the stage set for innovation to emerge from the private sector, EdTech solutions like Woz U are discovering a way to provide the next generation of students with the cutting-edge tech skills they need to succeed, at a much more affordable rate, and for life.
Inspired by Steve Wozniak's passion for technology and education, Woz U is not just another coding bootcamp or online school. It's a disruptive EdTech platform that provides students with a lifelong education in tech, from "K to Career." By accompanying the student from Kindergarten through their ever-changing career in tech, Woz U keeps the student's skill set relevant and up-to-date, directly affecting their career development.
No longer do students or parents need to guess what skills are needed—or will be needed—to achieve future success. Thanks to collaboration with industry leaders and experts in their field, Woz U has developed curriculum that teaches students exactly what they need to know to jumpstart their career in technology. It focuses on three major disciplines that are necessary for succeeding in the world of tomorrow: Software Development, Cyber Security, and Data Science. And the best part? Our learning modules are continuously updated to accommodate for advances in tech and are made available to students for life.
What truly makes Woz U disruptive, however, is that it neither competes with, nor seeks to replace traditional education—it supplements it. By partnering directly with charter schools, universities, and industry-leading companies, Woz U delivers high-quality course materials to individual learners without carrying the full price tag with it. And by operating under the roof of our partnering institutions, Woz U operates independently of the moving goalposts of state licensure to deliver educational services.
While it may sound like a far-off concept, or something to be realized in the distant future, Woz U is already being implemented across the country with huge social impacts already being made in local communities. In the last 12 months, the Woz Foundation has provided access to inner-city schools to build interest in technology and prepare students for a future that will be dominated by tech skills. Since last October, Woz U has also provided its Software Development curriculum and services for free to over 300 Arizona high school students.
Woz U has even gone so far as to work with the state of Arizona to develop prisoner rehabilitation programs that provide incarcerated men and women with a second chance and an opportunity at employment. All of this is not done by accident, but rather due to our conviction that a quality education in technology can truly change lives for the better, just as Wozniak envisions.
As we continue this journey to revolutionize education and further develop our offerings, we hope to implement more programs that benefit both the communities around us and even those afar. If you'd like to show your support for Woz U and our vision for the future, follow us on social media and leave us a like or a comment! We love to hear from our community and we're always happy to hear your feedback.
To learn more about how Woz U is "reprogramming" tech education and changing lives along the way, please subscribe or stay tuned to our official blog.