September 2020 Tech Upload
NEW Digital News
Thank You Alliance Members
The NEW Digital Alliance would like to thank all of our members for their ongoing support during these unprecedented times.
To learn more about our members, click Here.
Since March when everything moved online, IT teams throughout Northeast Wisconsin have been busy keeping companies and school districts running. You know the drill by now. Students finished the academic year online, and educators have been meeting virtually throughout the summer to plan for the upcoming school year. Companies have been no different, first sending employees home to work, then meeting virtually to determine how best to reopen the office. In some cases, companies have decided to continue letting office employees work remote with no end date in mind. Many school districts and colleges have settled on hybrid delivery models while communicating that classes may move online with short notice, as happened for Oshkosh’s North High School and Merrill Middle School the day before school was to start.
Supporting these efforts are the IT workers who continue to be in high demand despite a challenging national job market. Back in January of 2020, national unemployment rates hovered around 4.1% while IT unemployment sat at 3% according to a Forbes article referencing Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. In early August, CompTia reported July’s BLS unemployment data, citing national unemployment at 10.2% with tech unemployment at 4.4%.
Forbes Unemployment Rate for Computer Occupations Fell in May (https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2020/06/11/unemployment-rate-for-computer-occupations-fell-in-may/#7cc3682716ad)
- Computer occupations: January 3% unemployment; May 2.5%
- All other occupations: January 4.1% unemployment; May 13.5%
Tech Employment Gains Pause for the Month, CompTIA Analysis Shows
- Unemployment in IT 4.4%
- National unemployment: 10.2%
CompTia IT Employment Tracker: https://www.slideshare.net/comptia/comptia-it-employment-tracker-august-2020
Despite a small increase, unemployment in the tech field continues to be low. Local companies continue to struggle to find the digital talent needed to support their needs, and several NEW Digital Alliance members such as Smart IS International report they are continuing to hire. CompTIA and Dice report an increase in national demand for cyber security analysts, likely attributed to an ongoing increase in cyber threats. CompTia also indicate an increase in demand for Systems Analysts as a work from home position, while Dice indicates an increase in demand for certain types of developers.
In order to help meet the needs of local organizations, reskilling efforts are critical. To help with the reskilling effort, organizations throughout Northeast Wisconsin are working together to provide information and opportunities for displaced workers. The NEW Digital Alliance has pulled together a Digital Careers and Pathways page to help displaced workers navigate the digital career field and associated educational pathways. Microsoft launched their LinkedIn Learning Pathways, and in collaboration with gBeta, the first cohort of reskilled workers has graduated with certificates in a number of programs. New North is working with gBeta and NEW ERA to connect cohort graduates with continuing education opportunities within our local colleges. The NEW Digital Alliance is also working with NEW ERA on a grant to develop flexible learning pathways that will help further upskilling and re-skilling opportunities in the region. We also continue to share with our member organizations resumes of job seekers looking for opportunities in the digital space.
In the past month, the NEW Digital Alliance has also:
- Participated in New North’s ongoing Broadband grant discussions.
- Launched our Innovation and Collaboration committee on August 13. A small task force is exploring opportunities to connect Higher ed and local companies to increase collaboration and innovation in this space, what this might look like, and who else should be invited to the early stage discussions.
- Engaged with New North’s NEW Launch Alliance focused on growing the entrepreneur ecosystem in Northeast Wisconsin. The NEW Digital Alliance will have a permanent seat on the committee and will help provide mentorship for ideas with a digital element.
- Explored how to track regional progress towards digitalization in the August 18 Digitalization and Breadth of Awareness meeting. We are currently exploring frameworks which can be used to baseline and track progression, as well as help define gaps and steps to take to increase digital maturation of companies within the region.
- Participated in New North’s Intel Tracker discussions to develop a regional dashboard designed to track economic trends in the region.
- Continued diversity discussions with our Higher ed committee, exploring what is currently being done on campuses and how the Alliance can help play a role in increasing diversity in IT programs. This committee is also brainstorming ways to increase college and corporate collaboration.
- Started planning for the October TechTalent Summit where we will share data about the tech pipeline in Northeast Wisconsin, and have a panel discussion about remote collaboration and meeting best practices.
- Continued discussions within the Talent Committee for how to migrate the NEW Connect IT event to an online platform. We’ve narrowed or online platforms down to two and will be meeting with Inspire Sheboygan to explore collaboration opportunities.
- Shared resumes from several IT professionals and interns with our member organizations.
Summer Reflections by Our Interns
“Everywhere you look, listen, or go, you will find constant reminders that this summer is unprecedented, unusual, and a different experience for everybody. Personally, I’ve had a very different summer than in years past. Where I once filled my schedules with technology and band camps, summer hangout sessions with friends at Bay Beach, and attending summer firework shows, I now placed time to work full time as a software developer at Secura, binge watching some popular Netflix shows, and making friends from around the world.
“Dealing with not being able to have in-person conversations for me has been very difficult. While I am a shy person in general, once I warm up to a group of friends, I enjoy talking when them about anything and anything. Due to the quick transition and my own self-isolation, I have not seen any of my close friends and have not conversations with them since the beginning of March. It was around this time where I started to connect with people from all around the world including Argentina, Australia, the UK, Italy, New Zealand, and Egypt through several Discord servers. By April, I had a solid connection of friends who (mainly) spoke English and started to voice/video call them to play online multiplayer games. While I didn’t get to connect with my school friends as much during this strange summer, I have been able to connect globally to so many more people with diverse experiences, languages, and personalities.
“Starting as a new employee to the workforce in general can be intimidating, especially during a global pandemic where Safer At Home orders are in place. While I was hoping for an ‘office job’/’go into the office each day’ job, I was extremely fortunate to be able to still start at Secura Insurance as a software developer as planned with the caveat that I would be working from home for the foreseeable future. Many of my experiences so far have been unusual and, quite frankly, not normal, however, many of them have become the new normal for me and the entire team I have the opportunity to work with. I enjoy the flexibility of working from home and I am truly grateful to still have this opportunity, especially as a high school student.” -Grace Vanden Heuvel
“Reflecting on this summer causes me to be thankful for technology and its role in my life. Going into the summer, I thought I would have two internships–one at NEW Digital Alliance another part-time internship at Catch-22 Creative in Milwaukee. I thought I would be able to start working in their office 3 days a week and learn new skills that would help me with future careers. However, COVID-19 caused their office to be closed for the remainder of the summer, meaning they no longer had an internship available to me.
“I was disappointed but not entirely surprised at this. A few weeks later Catch-22 Creative reached out to me again asking if I would be interested in doing freelance work for them. While it wasn’t a full internship experience as I had hoped, I was still able to do a few freelance projects for their company from the comfort (and safety) of my own home while still gaining valuable experience.
“Technology and the ability to work from home via shared documents, video calls, and email communication helped me to still have a summer filled with work and learning opportunities. Technology also helped me to stay connected with friends via FaceTime and Zoom. This summer was definitely different than others, but it is one I will always remember.” -Kaitlyn Alexander