Happy Techies Day—In Spite of It All

On Oct. 1, Techies Day rolled around for its fourth year. If you didn't have to dodge confetti and the well-wishes of adoring masses that day, you weren't alone.

On Oct. 1, Techies Day rolled around for its fourth year. If you didnt have to dodge confetti and the well-wishes of adoring masses that day, you werent alone.

Started by job site Techies.com and a consortium of government and industry leaders, Techies Day was established as a way to address the long-term demand for tech workers. Tech professionals and organizations are encouraged to volunteer their time, talent and skills on that day to help students in grades K-12 learn more about careers in technology.

Techies Day is a nice idea, but, honestly, given the past years layoffs and salary slumps, can IT professionals still claim that technology offers job security, decent salaries and the assurance of ample work? Perhaps not. But despite it all, organizations across the country participated in Techies Day with enthusiasm and creativity.

I found a great example in Iowa. The state legislature cut one-third of the states technology budget for public schools this year, so Tech Corps Iowa, a nonprofit technology organization, simply shifted the tone of its Techies Day activities this year.

Helen Struve, state director for Tech Corps, said her group focused on supplying recycled computer equipment to schools, in an effort to make up the shortfall caused by the budget cuts. Tech Corps staff also visited schools to encourage interest in technology for the pure joy of it, said Struve, a retired systems analyst.

"[The economy] simply changed the slant in which we presented our Techies Day workshops," Struve said. "I felt it would be a disservice to present this introduction to hardware and emphasize that this is the way to a good job. I have, instead, slanted the session to appeal to the delight that kids have in seeing whats behind the computer when they turn it on and run some programs."

"Delight." It is a word that lately has been missing from conversations regarding IT careers. Yet it is a job benefit that provides perhaps the best assurance of filling the pipeline with young people so that the industry will not be understaffed in the future, when jobs—cross your fingers—finally return.