First Techies Day to target youth
October 6, 1999
by Julekha Dash
(IDG) -- Instead of working at their computers, hundreds of technology workers at the Memphis headquarters of Federal Express Corp. will spend tomorrow trying to make technology look exciting to students as young as 5 years old.
For older students, employees will talk about job prospects in information technology, all as part of the first National Techies Day.
"We don't expect to find these people applying for a job the next day," said Rick Nordtvedt, managing director of the emerging technologies center at FedEx. "But we do realize that those (kids) will fulfill (technology) jobs over the next few years."
FedEx is just one of 500 organizations that will participate in the day, part of a long-term effort to address the ITlabor shortage by making technology jobs look more attractive to the nation's youth.
Although Techies Day is hardly the first effort to heighten the profile of IT jobs, it's a chance to tell tomorrow's labor pool that the job market is ripe for technology-educated workers, said Nordtvedt. He added that the sooner kids are exposed to technology, the more likely they are to develop an interest in it and the "more likely they are to work at a place like FedEx."
By enlisting nontraditional IT workers, other Techies Day participants want to dispel the perception among teen-agers that technology jobs are limited to jobs like computer programming. For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce hopes to enlist a ship captain and a hurricane hunter who can demonstrate how they use technology to save lives.
According to the Commerce Department, the market will need as many as 1.4 million new skilled IT workers between now and 2006. It took almost the past 50 years to build a total labor force of that size, said Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Carnes. "That's the single biggest competitive challenge to the nation. We need (to deliver) innovative strategies for people to get these jobs."
Started by companies like CNET Inc. and Techies.com Inc., an online career resource, the day's other participants include America Online Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp. Companies will also use the occasion to cheer their tech staffs with lunches, barbecues and other special activities.
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