Members from Midlands-area organizations gathered at Midlands Technical College’s Northeast Campus to discuss the need to hire and develop IT talent in Columbia.
MTC President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames said, with the exponential growth of IT in the Midlands, a discussion with area CEOs about the Columbia IT environment was critical.
"Today, clouds have totally changed the very foundation of our information management," said Rhames. "That is precisely why (MTC) as an institution must stay in close contact with our partners to ensure that we are delivering graduates with the skills that are essential in today’s business and technical world. Keeping pace in this environment requires an agility unlike any we have ever known."
A press release from the school showed nearly 6,400 technology companies in South Carolina with more than 3,400 job openings. S.C. employees in the IT industry earn an average of $76,500.
Army Chief Information Officer, and Columbia native, Lt. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford said the Midlands of South Carolina is in a perfect position to take advantage of the Southeast’s growth in the IT industry.
“In addition to internal information technology growth, Columbia is strategically located in the vicinity of the Research Triangle to the north,” he said. “To the south of Columbia is one of the largest Department of Defense information technology and cybersecurity training centers – the Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Signal School in Augusta, Georgia. At the future home facility of the Army Cyber Command, just 60 miles from here, the Army is making a $900 million investment in facilities and infrastructure to train future information technology and cyber professionals.”
The forum also allowed MTC to gain insight about the organizations attending, which can help the school create education and training opportunities to help employers fill their workforce needs more quickly.
“The more they engage with us, the more they are able to hire local and not have to look to Atlanta or Charlotte for talent,” said David Pfaehler, the program director for computer and information technology in MTC’s Corporate and Continuing Education division. “We want to offer the most relevant and up-to-date curricula. This forum with decision makers in the Midlands really helps us look forward to where IT is headed, in particular, what skills these organizations foresee needing in their workforce.”
Topics at the forum included developing IT talent in a competitive market, training of non-technical soft skills, needing operational technology talent, and removing the barriers to four-year-degree-only job postings.
"This forum on IT is a topic of common interest for all of us," said Rhames. "Through our discussions, we have new ideas on how we can work together to help meet the industries' workforce needs. A big part of the solution is to continue exploring ways to increase the number of people entering into to the IT field through education and training at MTC."
Midlands Technical College offers dozens of academic degrees and training certifications in areas like computer support, programming, database development, and networking. Some courses can be completed in only a few weeks and give students the skills to move directly into the IT workforce.