When it comes to IT associations, there are a number that cater to IT leaders. But the number of IT associations that focus on the needs and aspirations of rank-and-file IT professionals is limited. There are some local chapters, but most IT staffs are left to their own initiative to network with their peers and further their own education.
CompTIA is hoping to change after acquiring the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP). Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president of industry relations for CompTIA, says that while the association has historically focused on certification testing and weighing in on legislation that’s pertinent to the IT industry, the acquisition of AITP means that CompTIA can also focus on advancing the careers of IT professionals in ways that goes beyond developing training materials and administering exams for certifications.
As part of that effort, Hammervik says, future CompTIA investments will include an alliance with Skillsoft. That will enable IT professionals to, for example, identify where their skills align with job demands by geographic region.
Hammervik notes that CompTIA issues more than 200,000 IT certifications a year, and that there are millions of IT professionals that it considers alumni.
AITP was founded in 1951, but, until the acquisition, it relied mainly on local volunteers. “There are over 500 AITP members that volunteer,” says Hammervik. That approach has resulted in uneven participation in various local chapters.
Going forward, Hammervik reports, CompTIA plans to strengthen the overall organization by providing full-time management and charging IT professionals a base fee of $99 to become a member. Additional fees are being required to access specific services.
Bridging the Gap in the IT Staffing Sector
CompTIA is clearly trying to bridge the gap in the IT staffing sector, which results in many tech positions remaining vacant. By making more educational services available—along with partnerships with recruiting platforms such as Skillsoft—there’s an opportunity for CompTIA to play a much bigger role than simply being an IT industry association focused mainly on IT vendors.
The truth of the matter is that many organizations don’t have the budget to train IT professionals on new and emerging technologies. Without a formal human resources strategy for their IT staff, these companies wind up laying off IT workers with outdated skills, while simultaneously continuing to recruit IT professionals that are proficient in modern skills.
That might not make economic sense. However, like many professional sports teams, many organizations would rather recruit players elsewhere than go to the expense of developing a farm system when many of their players are likely to be lured away by higher salaries in a few months.
In this type of hiring environment, it is imperative that IT professionals maintain their own IT proficiency. CompTIA clearly see an opportunity to deliver essential educational services within the context of a nonprofit business model.
How IT professionals will respond to these overtures remains to be seen. The history of technology suggests that many IT professionals are not known for being social animals anxious to join a club. But, when it comes to IT skills, mutual self-interest often winds up being a powerful motivator for overcoming natural inclinations.