by Staff Writer
It seems like almost nothing changes faster today than technology. Blink and you’ll see new innovations – as well as new threats. Alongside this tremendous change, we’re witnessing unprecedented demands on IT professionals – everywhere from cybersecurity to platform migrations to the cloud to demand for new and updated hardware that fits the latest market trends. While demand for IT professionals is going through the roof, the talent pool is not necessarily growing at the same speed.
CompTIA, the IT industry trade association, dedicates resources to understanding the market, sharing research around the current state of affairs, and training IT professionals to continue to develop their careers. To help address the need for more professionals and provide resources to underrepresented populations in the tech industry, the association founded a charity arm of their business, Creating IT Futures. CITF is driven by the mission to support people from underrepresented communities by providing opportunities to prepare for, secure, and be successful in IT careers.
Passport to Prosperity
Lamia Al-Azzawe is just one of the many lives touched by CITF’s work.
Al-Azzawe spent her childhood and early adult life in Iraq. Trained as a computer programmer, she fled the country during the economic free-fall of the 1990’s. After a number of transitions, Al-Azzawe and her family started over in Canada in 2005 and were finally able to establish roots. Though Al-Azzawe had worked in technology in the past, during the 15+ years of turmoil and instability searching for a new home, technology and the IT world had changed tremendously.
That’s when Al-Azzawe connected with Creating IT Futures.
Through CITF’s professional development programs, Al-Azzawe was able to refresh her skills, demonstrate a new layer of proficiency and credibility with new certifications, and stay competitive through continuing development. As a woman in a male-dominated field, Al-Azzawe now has skills that are transferable anywhere in the world, and she’s inspired her son to follow in her footsteps. Today, she works as a desk-side support technician and provides server hardware support for the City of Calgary.
“Working in the IT field brings a lot of challenge that gives a lot of confidence,” says Al-Azzawe. “At the same time, it’s a secure job. It’s in demand in the market, and it’s growing every day.”
Helping Others, While Improving Internally
CITF’s programs and mission touch many lives. Their students come from all walks of life – whether looking to change industries completely, build new skills after having moved to a new country, or changing career paths within a company, CITF is there to support and encourage every step of the way.
For mission-based organizations, finding the time, resources, and clarity to look inward can be a challenge amidst of the demand they experience in their work. When more and more qualified applicants found their way to CITF’s programs over the past few years, pressure was placed on their operations in an entirely new way. This tremendous need quickly stressed tested parts of the organization that wouldn’t scale in the future: the certification voucher application system and training system.
“One of the biggest challenges with the registration process was that all applicants would complete a PDF and submit it,” explains Anna Conger, a consultant with CITF. “So all of the data had to be entered manually into a spreadsheet – the whole data integrity issue was huge.”
With strong leadership and a critical eye, CTIF was able to identify opportunities for program growth and turned to Smartsheet as their work management tool of choice because no other option offered the “simple and intuitive interface of Smartsheet, which makes it easy for the uninitiated to be able to track and update information,” according to CEO, Charles Eaton.
Now, with a collaborative approach to the work management involved with registering applicants and allocating program vouchers, staff save ¼ of their time. Instead of chasing down details and working with offline files, CITF program staff are able to spend more time in the classroom with students, furthering their mission.
Optimizing their work management saves the organization $25,000 / year -- money which directly translates to supporting students like Al Azzawe. No matter what changes lie in store for the tech industry and IT professionals, CITF will be there, improving the lives of their students and ensuring the world has the talent we need.
Learn more about CITF’s Smartsheet story in their recently published case study.
Source: Smartsheet Blog
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