U of I’s Reed: IT boot camps will roll out by year’s end

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Des Moines Register

As government, business and academic leaders unite around encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, businesses with a need for those workers need help as soon as they can get it.

Dan Reed, University of Iowa’s vice president for research and economic development, thinks a boot camp for information technology workers can help alleviate that need.

“The STEM issue is about filling the pipeline and, in the end, that has to be the longer-term issue,” he said. “But what do you do right now?”

Reed has been speaking across the state trying to build support for the boot camp and he said he hopes to launch the first camps before the end of the year. Last week, Reed spoke to the Technology Association of Iowa in downtown Des Moines.

The boot camps will be available to both employed workers looking to update their skills and people looking to make a career shift.

When he worked for Microsoft before joining University of Iowa’s staff last year, he saw firsthand the battle waged over top-skilled talent by some of the industry’s largest companies including Google and Facebook. In fact, Reed said, one competitor showed up at a local bus stop exchanging donuts for resumes.

“Everybody was looking for the talent,” he said. “And it’s not just large companies. You think about a small Iowa company that wants to sell globally, your ability to plug into the international supply chain is reliant on your IT infrastructure.”

Reed did not set a date for the course, nor did he have information as to what kind of skills would be taught. However, he did say he hoped to draw enough corporate interest to provide the boot camps for free.

Teaching IT skills is important “whether it’s a mom and pop store with a website that wants an ecommerce function, or a medium-sized manufacturing business,” Reed said.

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Des Moines Register