Partnerships shape IT work force literacy

The country must act now to prepare the information technology work force

of the future or companies will be unable to fill jobs with qualified workers,

a presidential commission warned last week.

The 17-member 21st Century Workforce Commission found that too many

adults are entering the U.S. work force unprepared for jobs that require

a high level of technical skills. The result, the report found, is a skills

shortage.

Future workers must have "21st- century literacy skills," which include

strong academic skills; thinking, reasoning and teamwork abilities; and

proficiency in using technology. The health of the country's high-tech economy

"depends directly on how broadly and deeply Americans reach this new level

of literacy," the commission said.

"It will take partnerships among government, private industry and education

to solve the problem," said Katherine Clark, vice chairwoman of the commission

and president and CEO of Landmark Systems Corp. The commission identified

nine "keys to success" that depend on such partnerships:

* Build 21st century literacy.

* Exercise leadership.

* Form learning linkages for youth.

* Identify pathways into IT jobs.

* Increase acquisition of IT skills.

* Expand continuous learning.

* Shape a flexible immigration policy for skilled IT workers.

* Raise student achievement.

* Make technology access universal.

"A lot of the IT needs are within government," and preparing future

IT workers will help agencies and industry, Clark said. "There will be benefits

to the extent [we] improve the pipeline and availability of IT workers,"

she said.

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