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Published on December 19th, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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MTC Hosts area CEOs and CIOs, Explores Solutions to Common Information Technology Challenges

Pictured: MTC President Ron Rhames and Army Chief Information Officer Lieutenant General Crawford spoke to leaders of area businesses about IT needs at the forum at Midlands Technical College.

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) Around 25 leaders from Midlands-area organizations came together at the Midlands Technical College (MTC) Northeast Campus to discuss their common needs to hire and develop IT talent in Columbia. Chief Executive Officers and Chief Information Officers from area insurance companies, utilities, software companies, government agencies, and small businesses represented a cross-section of organizations who have common goals when it comes to employee staffing. Also present for the discussion was the United States Army Chief Information Officer Lieutenant General Bruce T. Crawford.

MTC President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames said, that with the exponential growth of IT in the Midlands, a discussion with area CEOs about the Columbia IT environment was critical.

“Today, clouds have totally changed the very foundation of our information management,” said Rhames. “That is precisely why (MTC) as an institution must stay in close contact with our partners to ensure that we are delivering graduates with the skills that are essential in today’s business and technical world. Keeping pace in this environment requires an agility unlike any we have ever known.”

In 2016, there were nearly 6,400 technology companies in South Carolina with more than 3,400 job openings in areas like computer system design and information technology. The average South Carolina employee in this industry earns $76,500.

Army Chief Information Officer and Columbia native Lieutenant General Bruce T. Crawford said the Midlands of South Carolina is in a perfect position to take advantage of the Southeast’s growth in the IT industry.

“In addition to internal information technology growth, Columbia is strategically located in the vicinity of the Research Triangle to the north,” he said. “To the south of Columbia is one of the largest Department of Defense information technology and cybersecurity training centers – the Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Signal School in Augusta, Georgia. At the future home facility of the Army Cyber Command, just 60 miles from here, the Army is making a $900 million investment in facilities and infrastructure to train future information technology and cyber professionals.”

Along with the opportunity to hear from the Army’s top officer when it comes to IT issues, the forum also allowed MTC to gain important insight about the organizations who attended – insight that can help MTC create education and training opportunities to help employers to fill their workforce needs more quickly.

“The more they engage with us, the more they are able to hire local and not have to look to Atlanta or Charlotte for talent,” said David Pfaehler, the program director for computer and information technology in MTC’s Corporate and Continuing Education division. “We want to offer the most relevant and up-to-date curricula. This forum with decision makers in the Midlands really helps us look forward to where IT is headed, in particular, what skills these organizations foresee needing in their workforce.”

Topics at the forum included developing IT Talent in a competitive market, training of non-technical soft skills, needing operational technology talent, and removing the barriers to four-year-degree-only job postings.

“This forum on IT is a topic of common interest for all of us,” said Rhames. “Through our discussions, we have new ideas on how we can work together to help meet the industries’ workforce needs. A big part of the solution is to continue exploring ways to increase the number of people entering into to the IT field through education and training at MTC.”

General Crawford agrees two-year colleges are critical to supporting the IT workforce pipeline.

“America’s community and technology colleges play a vital role in the training, education, and growth of the information technology workforce of the future,” said Crawford. “The fact that two-year colleges place increased emphasis on practical knowledge fits well into the skill sets required for the current and future IT workforce.”

Midlands Technical College offers dozens of academic degrees and training certifications in areas like computer support, programming, database development, and networking. Some courses can be completed in only a few weeks and give students the skills to move directly into the IT workforce.

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