[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on February 22nd of this year, was our #1 most popular story of the year. For the #2 from last week, click here.]
According to recent data, Gen Z demands that devices and software—and the support required to use them—be woven into their daily lives; yet, most of this digital native generation has no interest in having an IT career. So who, exactly, will provide the technology and support needed to satisfy the future generation?
It’s yet another cold water splash on the STEM fields that have been in crisis in the U.S. for years. However, unlike the somewhat vague notion of there being less engineers and mathematicians to better the collective intelligence and innovation of a nation, the fact that almost none of the future generation have any interest in information technology (think: computers, the internet, software systems, telecommunications, data analysis, electronic engineering) will have a direct, negative impact on not only individual consumers, but on entire ecosystems (like higher education) that are becoming increasingly dependent on IT.
For example, outside of daily consumer needs (e.g. seeking support whenever a phone application stops working), entire markets are rapidly becoming more dependent on IT, with the example of higher education and its reliance on everything from providing campus help desks to migrating critical systems to the cloud.
The panic increases when one considers where higher education is moving in the future. Already, leading institutions like Stanford are making national pleas for experts to be created in the burgeoning field of data science (combining skills in computing science and applications, modeling, statistics, analytics, and math to discover insights in data) as colleges and universities become increasingly reliant on harnessing data to increase performance in everything from enrollment to graduation rates. And innovators in the higher ed arena are starting to build whole new offices devoted specifically to data science and IT management.
According to EDUCAUSE, colleges and universities this year will put heavy focus on mobile devices for learning, SaaS, administrative performance analytics, hybrid and online learning, apps for enterprise applications, and service desk tools…all technology-based innovations supported by campus IT. In next few years, these and other technologies will only advance in capability and expertise needed to support these capabilities.
(Next page: The sobering statistics; what’s being done to promote IT?)