Gary J. Beach, TECH CORPS Founder, Author and Publisher Emeritus CIO Magazine
Harken back to 1995, the year TECH CORPS was founded. The world wide web was six months old. The internet was known as the “information superhighway”. The ratio of students to classroom computers in K-12 schools was 20 to 1 and 36% of schools had no internet access. The launch of the iPhone was still 12 years into the future.
Fast forward to 2020. Paraphrasing Will Rogers, a well-known 20th-century American writer, “technology don’t mean nothing, it’s people that count”. This year, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of TECH CORPS, although the power and pervasiveness of technology has evolved and now reaches into every school in America, the core value proposition of TECH CORPS remains the same: aligning the talents and skills of TECH CORPS volunteers with the aspirations of young Americans to leverage technology to positively shape the trajectories of their lives and careers.
TECH CORPS is now the longest operating education technology nonprofit operating in the United States. Since 1995, more than 15,000 volunteers have shared their passion for education and technology with hundreds of thousands of young Americas. A market analyst recently estimated the value of those contributions at over $100 million.
Several years ago, at a technology event in Austin, Texas, I spent time with former President Bill Clinton, who along with former vice president Al Gore, was instrumental in launching TECH CORPS from the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House. As our Austin meeting was ending, President Clinton put his arm over my shoulder, leaned into me and summed up the first 25 years with these words, “TECH CORPS has done good.”
Indeed it has. But there is much more to do. TECH CORPS must lead the way.
CompTIA, a technology industry association, estimates there are 380,000 “open” technology jobs seeking qualified candidates in America. Jobs that have a median base pay of $73,000. TECH CORPS must continue to lead the national discussion on replenishing, and growing, the nation’s technology pipeline. A good start would be by making the tech industry a more diverse industry. For decades, 80% of technology workers have been White/Asian males. America’s tech labor force needs more women and persons of color.
One way to do that would be to emphasize “technical literacy” in our nation’s classrooms. As reading literacy was key to get a good job in America in the 19th and 20th centuries, so to, will “technical literacy” be the skill one must have to compete for work in what the tech industry calls “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Our country is at an inflection point. “Technical literacy” will be the cornerstone skill shaping the future of America’s economy, the employability of our workers and the strength of our nation’s security. The efforts and programs of TECH CORPS in 2020, and beyond, must be front and center in guaranteeing technical literacy rights to all young Americans.
Here’s to continued success.
Click here to learn more about TECH CORPS’ 25th anniversary.