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Board 28: Working with Business and Industry to Update Nationwide IT Skill Standards

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computing and Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Mark Dempsey Collin County Community College

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Mark Dempsey joined Collin College in 2012 as program manager for the National Convergence Technology Center. In his current position as Assistant Director, he plans and manages the CTC’s special programs and events as well as provides administrative and operational support to the CTC’s Principal Investigator.
Prior to Collin College, Mark worked for eight years at UCLA Extension, the continuing education division of UCLA. There, he worked first as an assistant to the director of UCLA Extension's Entertainment Studies & Performing Arts department, helping coordinate academic projects and special events, and later as a program representative, managing domestic and international custom-designed seminar programs. For several years during his tenure at UCLA Extension, Mark also served as a co-instructor for the capstone online class "The Business of Hollywood," which employed a unique role-playing element to explore strategies of film financing and negotiation.
Before joining UCLA Extension, Mark was a development executive at an independent feature film production company, Echo Lake Productions. He has also worked as a freelance script analyst for Silver Pictures. Mark holds a BA in Cinema from Southern Methodist University and an MFA from Loyola Marymount University.

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Ann F Beheler Collin County Community College

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Ann Beheler has been in the Information Technology industry for over 30 years, and she is now responsible for Emerging Technology grants at Collin College. In that capacity she leads the National Convergence Technology Center, a five-year $4 million National Science Foundation grant. The work of the National CTC builds on a previous four-year $4.4 million National Science Foundation grant. From 2011-2015, Ann also led the National Information, Security, and Geospatial Technologies Consortium, an almost $20 million Department of Labor TAACCCT grant.

Ann has corporate experience at Rockwell, Raytheon and Novell; and she has led her own consulting firm, created and taught in one of the first networking degree programs in Texas, and previously managed IT-related divisions and grants ranging $1-$20 million in community colleges in Texas and California. Prior to her current position, she was Vice President of Academic Affairs for Porterville College, responsible for all instruction at the college, and prior that she was a Dean at both Orange Coast College in California and at Collin College.

Among other things, Ann is known for effectively bringing together business and industry using a streamlined process to identify with them the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) they predict will be needed by “right-skilled” job candidates in the future. She then works with faculty to align curriculum such that those who complete certificates and degrees in IT have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will make them readily employable in high-paying IT positions. Ann holds a PhD in Community College Leadership from Walden University, a MS in Computer Science from Florida Institute of Technology, and a BS in Math from Oklahoma State University.

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The “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project is creating a set of employer-led and verified Information Technology (IT) skill standards for 8-10 of the most critical contemporary IT job clusters. It has been fifteen years since the national IT skill standards were updated. Because of the fast-changing nature of IT, they are no longer useful to employers, educators, or potential IT workers. Educators use skill standards to create relevant, current curriculum to prepare students for the workforce. Employers use skill standards to improve communications about job openings to hire the most qualified candidates. Students and graduates use skill standards to better understand realities of the job market. The final skill standard update will be presented in as user-friendly a way as is possible.

The “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” ATE project builds on a successful business engagement model developed by a national ATE center of excellence. This model – known as the “BILT” (Business and Industry Leadership Team) – puts business and industry leaders in a co-leadership role that allows them to make continuous recommendations on program curriculum to ensure it aligns with workforce needs. The goal is to teach students the skills they need to know to get hired. The national ATE center of excellence’s BILT – which includes IT experts from national companies based in regions across the US – convenes quarterly to discuss emerging industry trends and provide program guidance. Each summer, the BILT uses a voting system to rank and update a list of IT knowledge areas that entry-level IT workers need to know. That updated list is shared with 69 colleges around the country that are members of the national ATE center of excellence’s community of practice. Those schools use the updated list with their local BILTs to keep curriculum aligned with workforce needs.

The “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” ATE project expands on this BILT model. First, at least 50 IT strategists are finalizing the current proposed list of IT job clusters. That final list will be vetted by at least 150 other IT business experts. This finalization process will be under way when the ASEE conference convenes in February 2019. Once those job clusters are finalized, individual job cluster BILTs will be assembled of at least 150 IT experts per cluster. Those cluster BILTs will work together, first through smaller focus groups to develop a list of essential skills for that cluster and then later with larger groups to finalize and refine the list as needed through the modified DACUM voting process. Along the way, at least 20 IT educators will be recruited for each job cluster to answer pedagogical questions as they arise. The educators will also map the final job cluster skills to representative two-year and four-year degree outcomes.

An important element of the “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” ATE project is a pilot program to develop a process – perhaps an online crowd-sourcing approach – to keep these standards current far beyond their publication.

Dempsey, M., & Beheler, A. F. (2019, June), Board 28: Working with Business and Industry to Update Nationwide IT Skill Standards Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32313

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