Home Featured East Carolina University Bridges the IT Skills Gap with Unique Open Source Partnership

East Carolina University Bridges the IT Skills Gap with Unique Open Source Partnership

by Jackie Davis
IT Skills Gap

Today’s world is more connected than ever. According to LinkedIn, technical capabilities like cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) development, and analytical reasoning are the most in-demand job skills– and this should come as no surprise. However, too few potential employees are equipped with the right training, leading to a skills gap in the IT industry.

A recent survey of human resource professionals through the Society for Human Resource Management found that more than 80 percent “had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the past 12 months.” Three-quarters of respondents cited skill shortages as a major factor.

With an estimated 700,000 open IT jobs in the U.S., how can the skills gap be filled?

In a unique partnership – higher education institutions and private sector organizations are coming together to educate future IT professionals. Through immersive, hands-on training with open source solutions, students are prepared for the real world and ready to bridge the skills gap. East Carolina University has leveraged this partnership to better prepare students for the workforce with open source solution training that can translate to careers in government, healthcare, and back on campus.

Sixty-nine percent of today’s IT leaders say open source is very or extremely important, highlighting the need for exposure to these solutions prior to entering the workforce. With Red Hat Academy, students said the gap between education and industry was bridged – ninety-five percent report being better prepared for work and ninety-two percent say the training has enabled them to work more independently in their position.

“We were having trouble coming up with a good, solid, rigorous, Linux curriculum,” said Lee Toderick, teaching instructor, East Carolina University. “We had an opportunity at East Carolina University to become a member of the Red Hat Academy. We jumped on it and never looked back.”

With access to training and education with open source solutions, students are exposed to the latest technology and receive hands-on experience that replicates the tasks they’d be performing in a professional environment. “Our students are getting the best education globally,” Toderick added.

The skills mastered in these Academy sessions go beyond the classroom. Fifty-three percent of IT leaders report using open source as the foundation for IT modernization. These solutions are shaping areas across the public sector – from government to healthcare.

Open source offers a unique opportunity for government agencies including NASA, the General Services Administration, and the U.S. Air Force to deliver on their missions with resource-friendly, flexible technology. In a recent video series, Jeff Walter, deputy head and data systems engineering lead for NASA Langley, shared that the benefit of leveraging open source to meet skills needs is unique “because the number of people intimately familiar with a niche commercial solution are far fewer than in the number of talented developers familiar with open source packages.”

These capabilities, powered by open source solutions and an array of skilled professionals, allow agencies to upgrade services, leverage the cloud for data storage and analysis, and deploy the most current technology. “The trick is staying on top of changes as they happen, because what might have been a best practice six months ago, might not be the case anymore,” said Aidan Feldman, technology director for Technology Transformation Services (TTS) at the GSA.

East Carolina University is preparing students for an industry that is moving towards open source, shares Phil Lunsford, ICT undergraduate program coordinator, associate professor, East Carolina University. This shift is occurring for a variety of reasons. IT leaders report thirty-eight percent lower platform costs and can shift solutions as needed. Open source reduces complexity by coordinating resources both on-site and in the cloud and offers unique collaboration opportunities with other members of open source communities.

Open source powers an array of solutions that enable government, healthcare, and education organizations to deliver on their missions. And, for the students taking part in Academy, ninety-four percent of instructors reported students having increased job opportunities. “They’re learning how to maintain information technology infrastructure that is powering today’s organizations,” shared Lunsford.

Training students for the high-demand, diverse IT environment of today, and the future, is not only empowering organizations, but also innovation. The power of open source lies in collaboration and exploration, which skilled IT professionals make possible.

Ready to learn more about the benefits of open source? Click here.

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