Technical education at the speed of tech

As tech enjoys an unprecedented growth spurt, it's harder than ever for education to keep up. A few innovators light the way

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I'm sure many of you reading this can point to other excellent free resources, no doubt scattered across YouTube. But for all this to reach critical mass, a number of big software companies will need to change their thinking, because training classes tend to represent a significant source of revenue. That shift must happen if to meet the outrageous demand for developers -- or who knows what we'll be paying 21-year-olds next year.

Unless we're in another bubble -- but I seriously doubt that. The rapid growth in technology today has more profound implications than, say, the dot-com boom or the social networking frenzy. Both of those trends were clearly visible and got everyone excited, but not a whole lot of important new technology was behind them.

Now entirely new vistas are opening up, and I don't just mean big data and NoSQL databases, though they're a good place to start. Mobile keeps exploding; even Windows RT represents a new opportunity, and (as Andrew Oliver noted in his post defending Java security) Android will soon matriculate everywhere as the new client-side Java. TVs are also becoming app dev platforms, and the OpenRemote project is helping to put home automation in reach after years of false promise. And probably more than any other single trend, the software-defined data center -- although still at the starting line -- proves that software is in fact eating the world.

Even as the overall U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent last week, the tech industry has enjoyed the equivalent of full employment since the middle of last year. Barring unforeseen disasters, I don't see that changing anytime soon. There are more job opportunities in tech than ever, particularly in software development -- but the skills demanded seem to change from month to month and the need for continuous learning continues to rise. Whether provided by dot-orgs, vendors, communities, or traditional academic institutions, education desperately needs to find a way to keep up.

This article, "Technical education at the speed of tech," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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