Here in Seattle and on the eastside, we have an abundance of tech companies with a voracious appetite for new employees, and the vast majority of openings are at shops with fewer than 100 employees.
To help fill that appetite, Bellevue College Continuing Education (BCCE) formed an advisory group of developers, designers and others from within the tech industry, with the expressed intent of getting their guidance on the courses we should offer. This is an especially pressing question, given the skills gap, and many of these companies go to great lengths to attract and retain employees with the right skills.
Our goal is to provide affordable, flexible learning options that can equip students with those skills and help them earn their next promotion, or lay the foundation for a career in tech.
Currently, the short list of most sought after skills includes C#, business intelligence (BI), user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). (Of course, given the rate of technological innovation and advancement, that list could look much different in a few months.)
But there’s one skillset that’s especially pressing, and which you won’t find listed in any of our technology course offerings: soft skills. Frankly, it should come as no surprise that what many companies want more than anything else is someone who can solve problems, works well with others (prima donnas need not apply!), and is comfortable speaking in front of clients.
That’s why I constantly encourage students to broaden their learning horizons, to look for opportunities to exercise their problem solving skills and to sign up for communications classes (also offered at BCCE) or programs like Toastmasters, where they’ll learn about communicating in a compelling and cogent fashion in front of a group of people. Having those skills under your belt can go along way toward giving you the “it” (not IT) factor come interview time.
It’s a safe bet that the aforementioned skills gap will continue for the foreseeable future, at least until higher education and industry can get more closely aligned. And it’s likely that strong presentation skills, a professional demeanor and the ability to work well with others will continue to be sought after as well. For its part, BCC will continue working closely with the tech community, and strive to provide more flexible and targeted programs that help fill the constant need for employees with the requisite skills, both hard and soft.
If you’re contemplating a career switch, but you’re not sure about your aptitude for technology, consider signing up for our Basic Programming Essentials course. In just 12 hours, spread out over four days, you can get a better sense of whether you have a promising future in IT.
And to learn more about helping BCCE develop new technology course offerings, contact me at …
Director of Technical Solutions
Last Updated June 27, 2018