We need to do more about the technology skills gap.

“I don’t even know how to use my own damn email,” says the Mayor of a city I visited on the tech tour this year.

It would be easy to publicly shame him for admitting that he still hasn’t quite figured out something that most of us take for granted but, in his defense, he also asked me to bring a few investors to town for a week and allowed me to park my Airstream right in the middle of his downtown business district. He means well and he’s trying to make things right for his people.

His city, like many cities around the US & Canada, is faced with an impending problem: one of the biggest factories in town is planning to downsize and nearly 1,000 local jobs will be eliminated within the next year. He and his team now recognize that bringing another factory to town — particularly one that can re-employ those 1,000 people — is near impossible.

He needs┬áto find ways to provide training for these people and the tech┬ácommunity hasn’t made that easy.

On one extreme, local colleges and universities have created certificates, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees, but these cost money and not everyone has the months or years required.

On the other extreme, we’ve created code bootcamps for adults that want to enter the software development industry, but those cost money and not everyone needs to code.

Middle America need something else.

Middle America needs a basic on-ramp into the technology world for adults coming out of decades-long careers in other industries.

Two suggestions:

  • If you’re an entrepreneur in this space, you could build a huge business on technology skills training across Middle America. Go do it.
  • If you’re a city leader, consider incentivizing your adult constituents to seek out and obtain technology skills.
  • If you’re attending any tech events in your city — no matter how big, small or sophisticated — take one non-tech friend with you to every event. Collisions matter.