How Tech Leaders Can Invest in the Next-Gen Workforce

By Joe McAllister, Sr. Partner BDM

In a recent LinkedIn Live, I sat with two employees from Chandler Unified School District to discuss how we brought a meaningful esports program to their campuses. You can watch it here.

Rethinking edtech: Creating technologists, not software

With the pandemic came a slew of new ideas for integrating technology into classrooms, starting with remote instruction but eventually extending to all learning modes. These conversations about education and technology tend to revolve around the world of edtech software — typically these types of solutions help offload certain tasks from teachers or help provide a more engaging learning environment for students. However, edtech software isn’t the only way technology businesses can partner with schools and districts. Rather than thinking about technology in the classroom as a tool to learn other subjects, we can shift the mindset to make technology the subject itself and build a pipeline of future tech innovators and leaders. From computer science courses to campus esports clubs, there are many opportunities to meaningfully connect students to technology.

Future-proofing tech education, career-readiness & our students

Tech workers know above all else that technology is constantly evolving, and it can be hard to keep up. When we think about education and career-readiness, it’s easy to wonder how we can prepare students for a world that doesn’t exist yet — they need tech literacy in areas like coding, machine learning, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. Like any other literacy, students growing into the next-gen workforce need access to foundational knowledge to build upon and the resources to learn those basic skills. While many schools have STEM programs, they aren’t ubiquitous; getting students involved and passionate about tech during their school years means more highly talented and innovative individuals entering the workforce in the future.

How next-gen tech leaders are getting involved

Students need the best-resourced environments to learn and develop professionally and be successful in pursuing a high-impact tech career. Tech leaders who are looking to get involved might consider school-business partnerships that provide immense benefits to students and businesses alike. Some examples of how technology businesses can get involved besides providing hardware and software include:

  • Upskilling teachers: Lending professionals for teacher professional development can put educators in the position to teach courses or units like computer science or engineering.
  • Curriculum development: Experts can assist districts in developing technology-focused curriculum that is age-appropriate and cognizant of the changing nature of the tech world.
  • Mentorship for students: Tech professionals can serve as mentors for students in STEM courses or clubs, helping students develop as young professionals themselves.
  • Internship programs: Exposing students to the real world of tech can help them apply their skills and see their knowledge in action. Summer or after-school internship programs with local businesses can be an impactful way to deepen students’ learning and interest.
  • Career pipelines: For high schools specifically, businesses can establish pipelines of students who participate in certain courses or clubs, are directed toward the right college or apprenticeship path, are connected with internship opportunities, and are eventually able to start their career with that company.

Real-world success: Esports at Chandler Unified School District

With esports growing in popularity (sometimes even more so than physical sports), the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) in Arizona sought to connect its students with cutting-edge technology in an educational environment. With Insight, the district was able to bring the hardware and software the program needed to serve students across the district with transformative results. The district saw increasing student interest, and students began looking to expand the program to video game streaming, planning and hosting competitions, running social media accounts for the club, and even video game design and development.

Additionally, some post-secondary institutions have begun providing esports scholarships, and esports organizations are signing students after graduation for lucrative careers in the competition space. Esports is about more than just playing games: The CUSD club is now poised to scale into a place for students to learn event planning, marketing, social media, art and design, and development, as well as soft skills — all of which will undoubtedly support the students in their future careers.

Stay at the cutting edge.

For more information about tech transformations in and out of the classroom, you can contact us here.