Supporting innovation and growth in the IT industry

As Congress and the President develop policies to keep the economy on the right path, it is essential that they take into account both the contributions and requirements of such a critical sector and ensure that the needs and priorities of small IT firms are understood and addressed.

Recently, as our membership gathered in Washington, D.C. for our annual conference, we brought particular focus to two innovation-intensive, high growth areas within the broader technology discussion: health IT and cybersecurity. These emerging fields hold tremendous potential for improving the people’s lives, increasing synergies in the workplace and reducing unnecessary costs. These fields also face complicated policy challenges that require deft legislative understanding in order to achieve their job creation and societal potential.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that medical records and health information technicians held approximately 172,500 jobs in 2008. These jobs are expected to grow by 20% -- or about 35,100 new jobs for the decade 2008-2018. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information estimates that 50,000 IT workers will be needed to meet the EHR requirements of “meaningful use.” This doesn’t even address new forms of HIT, such as telemedicine and mobile technologies.

In the cybersecurity corner, Money Magazine and Payscale.com rank Information Systems Security Engineers in the top twenty most desirable job positions on their annual list of top 100 jobs for growth potential and salary, carrying a 10-year forecast growth of 23%. As global commerce and information sharing become even more prevalent, it’s hard to imagine these jobs receding in their importance or in their numbers.

It is against this IT growth environment and broader economic backdrop that CompTIA is working to bring new entrants into the profession. Along with our more than 2,000 IT member companies, we are working to collaborate with current IT professionals as successful partners in these emerging fields to help provide real solutions to the challenges faced by individuals, businesses and governments. We strive to improve workflow, create efficiencies and transform how people live and work.

Moving forward, our challenge is to do a better job of matching the skills of job seekers to the requirements of employers through proper training and validation. The jobs are there -— Indeed.com estimates about 418,000 open IT jobs in the U.S. as of June 2011 —- we just need to do a better job of getting people into them.

And in tackling this challenge, we are pleased to have Congressional Small Business Information Technology Caucus as a partner. 

Todd Thibodeaux is president and CEO of CompTIA, a non-profit trade association advancing the global interests of IT professionals and companies.