Collective, Rhode Island's Information Technology and Bioscience
industry association, today released its "Why
IT Works" Rhode Island Information Technology Skills Gap Study.
The first state-wide industry report since 2007, "Why IT Works"
comprehensively focuses on Rhode Island's high-tech, high-growth IT
industry - identifying its workforce skills gaps at the entry and
mid-levels; career pathways and professional development; education
pipeline from K-12 through higher education; and offering
recommendations to move forward.
The study was conducted by Community
Economic Futures and Tech Collective. Over the past 14 months, it
was researched and compiled using local and national industry data and
garnering Rhode Island employer and employee insights via focus groups,
one-on-one interviews, and surveys. Findings of the report aim to raise
awareness of and guide investments in Rhode Island's IT workforce.
Rhode Island employs 13,500 IT professionals and growing. IT employment
is almost evenly split across "core" IT industry sectors (IT services,
software, networking, etc.) and "utility" companies across other
industries (finance, healthcare, education, etc.). Rhode Island's "core"
IT industry supports 19,000 jobs, including professionals with non-IT
The "Why IT Works" report determines that Rhode Island does indeed face
an IT skills gap, but it is not alone; comprising 2.7% of all employment
in the state, Rhode Island is actually at the U.S. average. Still, Rhode
Island IT employers are continually recruiting, with only 65% saying
their current IT talent base is "adequate."
Skills gap findings in the report highlight employers' critical need for
IT talent with both technical and professional skill sets. Top technical
needs include: project management, programming, web design, software
development, and business analysts. Top professional skills include:
big-picture perspective, leadership, and the ability to understand
business needs. In an industry that is becoming continuously
service-oriented and customer-facing, being able to communicate with
"non-technical" clients and relate technological capabilities to benefit
the business is of the highest value to employers.
The report also explores the many availabe IT career pathways and
development opportunities. IT professionals enter the industry from a
variety of backgrounds and continue developing their skill sets
throughout their careers. Education channels include: degrees in or
outside of IT, industry-recognized IT certifications, and innovative
short-term training programs.
As IT employers anticipate growth over the next 3-5 years,
recommendations following the report reflect the need to expand,
enhance, and support STEM and IT opportunities for Rhode Island,
including for students, transitioning workers, and employed IT
professionals (incumbent workers). Support for on-going
technology-related initiatives, including digital literacy,
entrepreneurship, and economic growth was also emphasized. Another
recommendation suggests creating a state-wide IT "pipeline and resource
assessment" to identify and make available programs and resources to
Rhode Island IT employers, workers, and the industry at large.
Focus on Connections and Growth
Following its recommendations, the report aims to serve as a strategic
tool, engaging and connecting all public and private workforce and
industry related programs, initiatives and agencies. One such
collaborative agency is Commerce
RI (formerly the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation):
"It is the mission of Commerce RI to work with public, private and
non-profit partners to create the conditions for businesses in all
sectors to thrive and to improve the quality of life for our citizens by
promoting the State's long-term economic health and prosperity," said
Commerce RI Executive Director Marcel A. Valois. "We rely on
organizations like Tech Collective that bring added value by delivering
industry specific data to help make more strategic decisions."
"Understanding the need of our IT employers is one of the most valuable
tools we can have," said Kathie Shields, Tech Collective's executive
director. "The 'Why IT Works' report is a strategic guide we can use
together as a state over the next 1-3 years. It will allow us to further
existing initiatives and create and sustain new programming needed to
close the skills gap across the workforce pipeline. Rhode Island's IT
industry is a strong asset; this report is a framework for us to create
a workforce from which both our industry and economy can continue to
The skills gap study was funded by an Industry Partnership grant through
the Governor's Workforce Board of Rhode Island (GWBRI). Tech Collective
released the first Rhode Island IT Skills Gap report in 2007, also
funded by GWBRI, which values such workforce reports from each of its
eight industry partners as opportunities to identify areas of success,
need, and recommendations for future funding and initiatives.
Skills Gap Forum Series
In addition to its IT skills gap study, Tech Collective will be
releasing its Rhode Island Bioscience Skills Gap Report in February
2014. The release of the report will be followed by a six-part monthly
"Skills Gap Series." Featuring a panel of Rhode Island leaders and
stakeholders, each forum is an opportunity to discuss the findings of
the reports as well as current and future initiatives the state can
undertake to grow and innovate in these industries.
There will be three forums per industry, each focusing on Industry,
Education, and Government. All forums will be morning sessions held at
Save the Bay. The first forum will focus on the IT industry and be held
on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. The Skills Gap Series forums are open
to the public. Industry, academic, and state leaders and stakeholders
are encouraged to attend.
For more information or to download Tech Collective's "Why IT Works"
Rhode Island IT Skills Gap Report, visit www.tech-collective.org.
About Tech Collective:
Tech Collective is Rhode Island's Bioscience and Information Technology
Industry Association. Uniting industry, government and academic
stakeholders, our mission is to inspire, engage, educate and employ a
high-skill, high-wage Knowledge Economy in Rhode Island. Since its
transition from the Rhode Island Technology Council (RITEC) in 2004,
Tech Collective has received more than $8M in federal, state and private
grant funding to foster industry and workforce awareness, collaboration,
and development through forums and initiatives including: Tech10, GRRL
Tech, Women in Technology, Bio-Ed, and STEM-based education and training
programs for K-16 students as well as incumbent and transitioning
workers. Get connected to Tech Collective at www.tech-collective.org,
(@Tech_Collective), and on Linkedin
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