Today is a great day in the ongoing history of the United States. We just held our 58th presidential inauguration. It went off with pomp, dignity, more flags than you could count, and an absolute boatload of security.
President Trump’s inaugural address was a reasonably short 1,433 words. Contrast that with William Henry Harrison’s 1841 speech of 8,445 words. Harrison was the oldest man to assume the presidency up until that point. Wanting to project an image of strength and virility, he skipped wearing a hat and coat during his 105-minute pontification in the rain. (He died one month later, presumably from exposure to the bad weather.) FDR gave four inaugural speeches totaling just 5,606 words. Our first-ever POTUS, George Washington holds the record for the shortest inaugural address — a blessedly brief 135 words.
Presidential inaugural addresses are a time to express gratitude to the outgoing president and share a vision of the future — which, unfortunately, is never what the new guy hopes it will be. Since 1789 presidential inaugurations have evolved into a touchstone of stability. In spite of wars, depressions, and disagreements, somehow we manage every four years to come together and peacefully usher in a new administration. That’s an accomplishment unmatched in world history.
People, like nations, prefer stability in their lives and especially in their careers. Presently society is undergoing a “robot revolution” that is having an undeniable impact on the workplace. On the one hand, technology has led to fabulous gains in productivity. On the other, there is a lot of collateral damage as low-skilled workers find themselves replaced by soulless machines that neither sleep nor complain.
As Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise put is, "Jobs will be lost, jobs will evolve, and this revolution is going to be ageless, it's going to be classless, and it's going to affect everyone." Until society reaches the post-scarcity level envisioned by Star Trek, more workers are increasingly in danger of being automated out of the workforce. To avoid losing jobs, IT professionals and others must constantly improve their skills. One of the best ways to do this is with a certification that gives one proficiency in new areas.
The five most valuable companies in the world are all technology companies. Those companies, like all other companies, need employees with IT skills. Unfortunately, there is a much-noted shortfall between the IT expertise employers need, and the skills that employees already possess.
There are presently almost 1,900 certifications on the market. The good news is that one need not spend thousands of dollars and months of time to earn a high-level credential. There is ample and increasing demand for entry-level certs like A+ and Network+. According to CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2017, “The demands for routine skills may be dropping, but the demands for support still exist as employees are asked to do more with technology. The models for providing the basics are changing, but one way or another many firms need to address lower-level issues before building higher-level functionality.”
Not only are there not enough skilled IT pros to fill all the current jobs, the global IT industry is expected to grow 4.1 percent in 2017, pushing the industry beyond the $3.5 trillion mark. IT is also facing an aging workforce. Experts predict that an estimated 40 percent of industry workers will reach retirement age in the next decade requiring a massive infusion of young talent.
It’s 2017. We have a new chief executive, and a terrific outlook for IT. Now is the time keep making certifications great!
About the Author — Todd Kerby is director of strategic partnerships for Certification Magazine and GoCertify. When the robots come to take Todd's job away, they will taste hot lead and sizzling invective.