MAXX Potential

The numbers are in…

Gen Z career surveys; middle school exploration; cyber jobs

By Rob Simms

After our second day at SXSW EDU we are gathering up some data and starting to see some themes: the viability of the non-college career pathway, early career exploration, and durable skills everywhere. Let’s dive into some newly released (like today) research data and connect the dots.

The survey says…

The results of a recent landmark study about high-quality non-college career pathways was released at the conference today. The upshot of the study is that while people believe non-degree pathways to good careers are worth considering, risk aversion and lack of opportunity awareness inhibit action. Specifically:

  • 68% of employers and 58% of Gen Z believe companies should hire candidates from non-degree pathways
  • 54% of employers and 65% of Gen Z believe non-degree pathways pose more risk
  • 80% of employers and 72% of Gen Z believe they need more information about non-degree opportunities

Shocking? No. But even as the ink is drying on the official report (soon to be published), everyone is trying to figure out how to solve for the risk and information challenges it suggests. Thankfully, there are some proven models.

At MAXX, our model for apprentices (the post-graduate opportunity for your students) is a 2-sided market: apprentice and client. Not only is it a market driven model, it’s a self-sustaining model. It sustains as long as we are serving both sides of the model: apprentices are getting great jobs and clients are getting great value. It sustains when we are filling a market need.

The middle school connection

Back in Virginia Beach, Virginia where our team just wrapped up a two-day Career Lab with 30 middle school students, we start to see the connections between the model and how it meets the challenges cited in the research. In Virginia Beach the students were exploring IT careers with hands-on activities and an understanding of the durable skills required to succeed. With this immersive experience, they will have the opportunity and the information necessary to craft a high school experience to maximize their preparedness for a future in tech, should they choose that path. During the session in which the survey results were discussed, Jean Eddy, CEO of American Student Assistance (ASA) said it best: “Middle school is the right time to let kids know what the options are to them.”

Once in high school, part of their preparation might include an immersive IT Work Simulation where students take on job roles and titles in an intense and focused simulation of an Enterprise IT department of a fictitious company. Students emerge with a newfound appreciation for what it really takes to collaborate, problem solve, meet deadlines and get things done in a professional environment.

Students emerging from high school having prepared for a career in tech since middle school will be much more informed and more likely to succeed as an apprentice candidate and have confidence in their future. And when a candidate becomes an apprentice, our clients understand their risk concerns are mitigated through the MAXX process.


About those jobs and those durable skills

This all matters because, according to one panelist today, there will be 36 million cybersecurity jobs over the next decade. That’s just cybersecurity, one aspect of IT which also includes software development, data, systems, quality assurance, etc. On the same panel, another speaker was almost pounding his armrest “…to succeed, people need the durable skills which will allow them to learn the technical skills”. 

This last point puts a final note on how MAXX de-risks apprentices in the workplace. Our focus on those durable skills allows our apprentices to succeed, no matter what kind of curveball gets thrown at them. 

So while the research study data is new, the problems are not. At MAXX we’ve been refining the solutions for more than a decade. For the past four years that solution also includes our work with schools to help their students understand their options and build confidence in the future.