Magazine article Techniques

Tackling the Info Tech Shortage

Magazine article Techniques

Tackling the Info Tech Shortage

Article excerpt

In response to a critical shortage of skilled information technology workers, Microsoft and the American Association of Community Colleges have launched a $7 million initiative that will allow community colleges to apply for grants of up to $300,000 each.

For the five-year "Working Connections" project, announced last week in Washington, D.C., the computer giant will contribute $7 million in cash grants as well as software and technical assistance to colleges selected through a competitive process. AACC, a non-profit organization that represents more than 1,100 two-year colleges, will administer the grants and the in-kind contributions.

Initially, 20 to 25 community colleges will be selected for 28-month grants of $200,000-$300,000 each. Five additional colleges with outstanding information technology education programs will receive about $100,000 apiece to mentor the grant recipients. The first colleges selected for the project will be announced in February.

Microsoft Director of Community Affairs Barbara Dingfield, speaking to about 300 community college leaders at an AACC conference, described the project as a philanthropic venture for Microsoft that also addresses a worker shortage some industry analysts believe is reaching a crisis point.

In a study released in February, the Information Technology Association of America identified a shortage of more than 190,000 information technology professionals in mid-sized and large U.S. companies. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 80 percent of new jobs in the next 10 years will be in information technology fields. Analysts worry that the growing gap between available jobs and qualified workers threatens the United States' global competitiveness.

The Microsoft/AACC project aims to help community colleges deliver information technology education and training, with a "special focus" on training welfare recipients, single parents, unemployed people and other disadvantaged populations. …

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