CompTIA is partnering in those efforts with the Technology Students of America (TSA), a non-profit organization with 250,000 members in some 2,000 chapters that promotes skills development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through competitions and other ventures. “We’re going to be big supporters of their national event,” Hammervik notes. Scheduled for July, that gathering takes place in National Harbor, Md., outside Washington D.C.
CompTIA’s Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) unit, meanwhile, has begun offering free student memberships. Launched in August 2017, AITP provides networking opportunities, mentoring resources, a job directory, and more to technicians and IT managers from outside the channel.
“We hope to take these kids that are coming out of TechGirlz, and high school, and the TSA experience and then [help them] become a student member at no charge with CompTIA, so we can help them transition, whether it’s through school or right into the industry,” Hammervik says.
The “right into the industry” part of that formula is an increasingly important component of CompTIA’s strategy for driving more people into IT careers. Young people can make their way into the tech industry every bit as successfully through two-year technical academies, community colleges, and apprenticeship programs, the group argues, as through traditional four-year colleges and universities.
“There are many other ways to enter the market besides a college degree,” Hammervik says, noting that high school graduates who earn one of CompTIA’s security or networking certifications often step immediately into a help desk job paying $45,000 to $50,000 a year and move up from there.
“People are starting to reevaluate what the ROI is on the investment in college and the expense that a four-year degree is,” Hammervik says, adding that CompTIA members and leaders regularly lobby vendors to join that trend. “We’re really gratified to see that some of the big tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and even IBM are dropping their requirements for college degrees,” she says.
The rules for the CompTIA/ChannelPro Cecilia Galvin Scholarship Award embrace that development by giving winners flexibility in how they use their grant money. “It does not have to be put towards college tuition,” Hammervik says. “If that’s not for you, if that’s not the direction you’re going in, the $5,000 that we’re awarding can be used towards technical training, CompTIA training, and certifications.”
The goal of the award, after all, is to get more women into IT. How they get there isn’t what matters.