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Learning IT online

User stories from the knowledge front

After a study indicated a shortage of information technology training in the state, the University System of Georgia decided to do something about IT.

Among its efforts is a new program called “Georgia gets IT,” which will bring online IT training to 19 public colleges and universities in the state system.

The partnership between the university and the e-learning company KnowledgeNet is being facilitated by Georgia GLOBE (Global Learning Online for Business and Education), a unit of the university that promotes distance learning opportunities to meet the state’s economic development needs. The e-learning system will include both live, instructor-led training and self-paced courseware that will enable students to achieve certification in Cisco, Microsoft and other technologies.

“This initiative,” says Georgia GLOBE President Richard A. Skinner, “signifies that USG institutions understand the importance of providing accessible, high-quality IT training in today’s New Economy environment on a statewide and global basis.”

The e-learning suite includes KnowledgeNet Live, which delivers live, instructor-led e-learning; Express, a condensed replay version of the Live courses for those who have missed a session or wish to review concepts covered in class; and Interactive, a self-paced learning environment. George GLOBE and the 19 participating USG institutions will market the program throughout the state to reach a broad spectrum of the its existing and potential work force.

The 1999 study prepared for the university system by the Georgia Tech Research Corporation reinforced concerns about a shortage of IT workers and the potentially negative effect of those shortages on industry growth, productivity, the cost of doing business, the ability to develop innovative products and services, and the ability to create high-wage jobs to fuel the state’s economy.

The three occupations where the highest shortfalls were found were directly related to information technology: computer programmers (547 per year), computer engineers (432 per year) and systems analysts (377 per year). (A 2001 update of the study, which will be released in the near future, indicates similar numbers.)

If continued over 10 years, the shortfall would result in more than 13,000 unfilled IT openings, the report predicted, which equates to about one out of every three new positions, resulting in an almost certain slowdown of the state’s high-tech growth

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