ConxusNEO IT workforce event draws 200

About 200 Akron-area educators, related professionals and the businesses that rely on them for employees gathered April 17 for the annual ALIGN event held by ConxusNEO, a regional workforce development organization.

They were joined by public officials, including Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, as well as representatives of the governor’s office and other state and local politicians.

The purpose of the meeting is to help align educational programs and approaches with the current and future needs of the workplace. Toward that end, those in the audience were told to get ready for the Internet of Things — because it’s coming fast and is going to drive job demand in information technology and related fields in the years ahead.

To most folks, the Internet of Things, also referred to as IoT, consists of simple connected devices, including some they may already use. A thermostat, for example, or home lighting and even a device like an Amazon Alexa would be examples. Like the name implies, the IoT is all the things connected to the web, and often to us as well.

But that’s only one growing part of a rapidly expanding world, said ALIGN keynote speaker Jon Hallsten, president of Hallsten Innovations, which has offices in Barberton and Chicago. The company works with clients like GOJO Industries and others to help them innovate and integrate IT into their products and services.

Hallsten said that Akron is ideally positioned to participate in a special part of the IoT — the Industrial Internet of Things. That includes all sorts of machinery and systems that talk to each other, monitoring their own performance, scheduling their own maintenance and even predicting when a breakdown might happen.

“We’re literally in the middle of the nation’s industry,” Hallsten said. “And modern manufacturing equipment communicating and living in the cloud is big business.”

For that reason and others, he and his fellow speakers said, it’s only becoming more important for students to receive more exposure to technical fields, as well as technical training, if they are going to be able to effectively compete for the jobs of tomorrow.

It’s only going to become more important too, Hallsten and others said — because with each new expansion of the internet comes new needs and challenges. For example, when a company adopts the Internet of Things and puts its equipment on line, it must also protect that equipment from hackers. In other words, there is going to be more and more need for cybersecurity going forward.

Those in the audience also heard from ConxusNEO President Sue Lacy, DriveIT Founder Eric Wise, and others about just how many jobs are available for students who graduated prepared to take them or to further their education to do so. ConxusNEO research shows there are 30 open positions for each local IT graduate — and six of those positions are for entry level people that employers often can’t find.

Lacy said about a fourth of the audience were educators — mostly from area high schools and community colleges.

As the full-day drew toward a close, most of them were still in their seats and attentive, too.

Educators generally applauded the program and, when asked what they wanted to see more of in the way of support, said they want to see continued engagement between themselves and area businesses and industries.

Read original article here.

Shingler, Dan. (2018, April 17). ConxusNEO IT workforce event draws 200. Crain’s Cleveland Business. Retrieved from