By Rick Kotermanski, Vice President Strategy and Innovation, CGI
When asked to contribute an article about technology trends, it prompted me to reflect upon not the technology itself, but the journey of professionals working in technology and how those trends have shaped both our careers and the city in which we live and work. More importantly, how can we sustain the current wealth of technology job opportunities available in Pittsburgh? What role does STEM play in preparing our workforce for the future?
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, I began my career in the mid-1980s when Pittsburgh’s leadership as a center of technology innovation was on the decline. A longtime leader in innovations tied to steel, glass, transportation, aluminum, chemicals, nuclear power, medicine and many others industries, Pittsburgh-based companies in the region relinquished their leadership to competition, plants closed, businesses relocated their headquarters elsewhere and tech jobs dried up.
At the time, and through much of the following decade, many of my friends and colleagues left Pittsburgh for greener pastures on the West Coast and other major metropolitan areas to pursue job opportunities. Thanks to my family and a few lucky breaks, the decision to stay in Pittsburgh was the right one. Also thanks to the universities, technology leaders, investments by companies within and outside the region, the Pittsburgh Technology Council and the rise of IT as a must-have core capability for every company, once again Pittsburgh is at the epicenter of innovation in digital technologies.
One only has to flip through the pages of this publication to see the companies and startups featured as testament to Pittsburgh’s technology renaissance. I’m fortunate to be a part of Pittsburgh’s technology eco-system and excited about the future — especially for younger colleagues, including my children, who are building their careers here locally.
“In the U.S., there continues to be a gap between the number of available jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and the number of skilled workers able to fill these jobs. American companies will need to add nearly 1.6 million STEM-skilled employees over the next five years.”
But how do we sustain this growth and prevent the decline of the ’80s from happening again? How can we leverage our technology leadership to drive new opportunities for the next generation? Addressing this challenge begins at home – within our communities, neighborhoods and own backyards to promote STEM and pass along the rich tradition of technology innovation that built our city. By investing in STEM education, we can attract new talent from outside the region and nurture and retain our own youth to build the skills they need to remain rooted in Pittsburgh.
The challenge is nationwide. In the U.S., there continues to be a gap between the number of available jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and the number of skilled workers able to fill these jobs. American companies will need to add nearly 1.6 million STEM-skilled employees over the next five years. And yet, the nation is struggling to keep up with STEM education.
In Pittsburgh and other communities, CGI works side-by-side with colleges and universities to promote technology education, using a proven framework that pairs local CGI executives with regional schools, where they work with departments of information systems, computer sciences, engineering, business and career services to create mutual awareness of STEM opportunities.
CGI also partners with local community organizations in support of STEM education for school-age kids. This includes annual STEM camps and initiatives across the U.S. CGI has launched STEM@CGI with the goal building our future workforce, especially in communities that are currently underrepresented in STEM – including girls, minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged. We sponsor programs to train education leaders to teach STEM to their students, give “tech talks” at student events, and engage in K-12 career events. As title sponsor for KDKA’s STEM week for the second year, we look forward to promoting further dialog about this subject and hands-on learning for students participating this fall. And we were please to participate in the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s STEM Summit this spring.
We are launching an Innovation Center here to support our U.S. operations which will further reinforce our company’s commitment to Pittsburgh as a national technology hub and focus our recruiting efforts to attract top talent.
Today, technology is everyone’s business. It’s our responsibility as professionals to take this opportunity to pay it forward by providing STEM education to the next generation of Pittsburghers and prepare them for high-paying, sought-after jobs in the digital age. Right here at home.