New partnership will help meet demand for techs

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

These words are being written on a 5-year-old Macintosh computer, using 4-year-old software, the image eventually finding its way onto a 50-year-old press to be distributed around the southwest corner of an 150-year-old state.

The technology is functional and well-taken care of despite its age, but someone was needed to invent it, get it working, and restore it to working order when something inevitably goes wrong. (Keeping the state in order is a question for another time.)

A news organization would be impossible to operate without the right technology, but the same is true for nearly every modern business.

Who will keep those computers humming? Where will they come from?

According to Nebraska Workforce Trends, computer and math occupations will grow by 17 percent -- or 462 jobs -- in central Nebraska, and software jobs will grow by 30 percent, or 719 jobs, in Nebraska over the next decade.

Database administrator positions are expected to grow at 24 percent, while network and computer systems administrators are expected to increase by 22 percent.

And those are good jobs -- starting salaries up to six figures for software developer, according to Forbes Magazine and U.S. News and World Report, who rated that job, and two other information technology positions in their list of the 10 best jobs.

In fact, an estimated 139,000 new software developers will need to be found between 2012 and 2022, a 22.8 percent employment growth that is much faster than average for all occupations.

What can be done to meet the demand?

Well, two schools -- the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Central Community College have set aside any potential turf wars to establish an articulation agreement for students to advance. The plan streamlines the path for CCC students who complete the associate science transfer degree in IT to complete a bachelor of science degree in computer science or information technology through UNK's Department of Computer Science and Information Technology.

UNK and CCC work with businesses like Cabela's the sporting goods chain, The Buckle clothing chain and Kearney's Xpanxion software development firm.

But there should be no shortage of opportunities in Southwest Nebraska as well, with major companies like Parker Hannifin, Valmont and many others depending on technical support to keep their operations running smoothly.

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