If you’re anything like me (and I can’t help that I’m so popular), you know the significance of October 3rd. It’s a celebration of all that is good and fetch in this world: Mean Girls.
But there’s another holiday on October 3rd that’s worthy of celebration, too: National Techies Day. Launched in 1999 by Techies.com and CNET Networks, Techies Day is an annual celebration of the contributions technology professionals make to encourage students to learn more about a career in technology.
As someone who makes her living at a technology PR firm, I salute the techies who are impacting impressionable minds to keep those career paths full.
Though President Obama’s administration declared a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, fewer students have been looking to these fields recently. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a STEM career and are proficient in math. What’s more, 57 percent of them will lose interest by the time they graduate from high school.
The Limit Does Not Exist – More Tech Jobs on the Horizon
Whether due to lack of interest or lack of access to a full range of math and science courses, it’s clear the supply does not meet the demand for workers with these high-value skills. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are expected to grow 17 percent by 2018, compared to just 9.8 percent for other fields.
There is a high demand for techies today, as technology has permeated almost every aspect of our daily lives. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) – technology that enables everyday objects to connect to the Internet to send and receive data and facilitate machine-to-machine communication – has revolutionized our homes and cities.
With the average U.S. household has 5.7 Internet-connected devices. Installing, troubleshooting and repairing all these devices can be too complex or time-consuming for the average person. With so many advanced devices at our fingertips, it’s also harder to figure them all out.
This is where entrepreneurial innovation is making an impact for average citizens. Take, for instance, startups such as Online Owls – on-demand tech support that can help demystify those IoT devices, or at the very latest ensure that users can quickly get back online on their own schedules.
Online Owls is the latest in a long line of successful startups including Uber, Handy and other on-demand services that paved the way and created more part- and full-time jobs for millions of Americans looking to work independently on their own schedule.
A large portion of those STEM jobs are likely to be in IT, thanks to our increasingly mobile, connected world and our growing “gig economy.” In fact, a recent study shows there are more than 30 million independent workers in the U.S. today – up 12 percent over the last five years. Furthermore, the study projects the independent workforce will be up to nearly 38 million workers by 2020.
As the tech world evolves, so, too, is the business world – with startups adding even more techie-focused jobs in today’s gig economy that let individuals with IT skills work when and how they want. With this high demand, STEM education will be more important than ever as we strive to equip tomorrow’s workforce with the skills they need to succeed.
So mark your calendars for Techies Day next year – and don’t forget to thank your company’s IT person or that grool friend you always call when your computer won’t stop doing this: