Listening to national reports about the job market, it’s easy to think the news is all bad. But there are some bright spots, most notably in the technology sector, where there is actually a shortage of skilled workers. Demand for positions like software developers, computer programmers and database administrators is expected to grow almost 14 percent in Washington state over the next five years, outpacing the national demand by several percentage points.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Bachelor’s degree is now considered the minimum level of education for a variety of IT occupations. The Washington State Technology Alliance says that the state must significantly expand bachelor’s degree production over the next decade in order to keep pace with the hiring needs of area businesses.
Clearly, education is the key for workers to land these well-paying, family-wage jobs, and that’s where Bellevue College is playing a huge role. In the fall, BC will launch a new four-year applied Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Technology, the first of its kind in the state. It will provide a broad base of theoretical knowledge, and students will specialize in one of four concentrations: application development, business intelligence, systems administration, and information security. The degree is structured so that those who already have Associate degree only need to complete two additional years of coursework to earn their Bachelor’s.
This degree will bring the total number of Bachelor’s degrees offered by BC to five, and is part of the college’s larger effort to boost the overall number of workers with four-year credentials statewide.
Although a Bachelor’s is becoming standard, it’s still possible to break into the industry with a certificate, and then build on that education. The Continuing Education program at BC, the state’s largest, offers many IT-related certificates, including C# Programming, Software Testing, Web Development and several more, that help make workers competitive for specific openings.
Finally, Bellevue College is home to the Center of Excellence for Information and Computing Technology, a statewide resource for Washington state’s community and technical college system, K-12 educators, and the IT industry. It works to address the skills shortage in the industry by providing best practices for IT education and training, up-to-date-research on IT trends that impact hiring and education needs in the state, and professional development for faculty. It also builds crucial relationships with the industry to help ensure their labor needs are being met.