When it comes to workforce development, the tech industry has some catching up to do with other sectors, Jeremy Hitchcock says.
The former CEO of Dyn and current chairman of internet-of-things security startup Minim has branched out over the years into education, most recently via his role as chair of the Community College System of New Hampshire’s board of trustees.
Hitchcock has been talking with the New Hampshire Tech Alliance through its new executive director, Julie Demers, about adopting the kinds of apprenticeship and work-based learning programs that have been embraced by community colleges.
He sees as a model the automotive technology programs the New Hampshire Automotive Dealers Association has worked on with community colleges. Earlier this month, the association hosted a career day at Manchester Community College for high school students from around the state to explore degree-based programs offered throughout the system.
“The New Hampshire Auto Dealers has a very robust program for getting people into that industry, all the way from high school on through continuing professional education,” Hitchcock said in a recent interview. “I think there’s a model there for high tech companies. That’s probably an area of focus I think a lot about. Trying to get the right people in the right places for it.”
Hitchcock noted that the success of such programs means collaboration among employers.
“Dealers compete with each other, but they’re able to get to the same table and talk about the general workforce needs that they have collectively,” he said.
Hitchcock says New Hampshire’s tech industry could also learn from a program IBM developed to bring technology education to high schools and beyond. The Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) program spans from grade 9 to 14. By the end of this year, IBM says it will have the program in place in more than 200 schools in at least 14 countries.
Under the program, students can earn an associate’s degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field in six years. More than 600 business partners are participating in the program, according to IBM.
“I think of this as, ‘What would IBM do with STEAM?’” Hitchcock said, referring to the STEAM Ahead program that was established five years ago at Manchester High School West. STEAM added “arts” to the STEM mix.
He also sees promise in a startup in the Millyard founded by Spencer Thompson that also operates in Seattle. The Prelude Institute offers cyber security training and staffing services.
“They’ll take people who don’t have prior background in the security industry. A lot of the cyber security work that needs to be done is around training on how these security systems work and how they look for anomalies and are able to contain and mitigate these anomalies. And you can do that in a relatively condensed format,” Hitchcock said. “They just completed their first cohort of 30 students.”
New Hampshire’s challenge is to create training programs in a state dominated by small businesses that don’t have the corporate clout of an IBM.
“Obviously the challenge is that you get enough employers to have enough scale and critical mass to make this stuff work,” Hitchcock said. “I think there are some ways around that.”