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Feb 12, 201911:04 AMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

In a divided Washington, tech agenda looks for common ground

(page 1 of 2)

On the day after President Trump delivered his State of the Union speech to a sharply divided Congress, the mood in the House and Senate offices flanking the Capitol was one of uncertainty about what — if anything — could be accomplished in the coming session.

Immigration and “The Wall,” disputes over foreign policy, stalled nominations, the threat of another partial government shutdown, and congressional probes of Trump are a recipe for deadlock, even in a city accustomed to the hurry-up-and-wait of politics.

That sense of stalemate was tangible during a February visit to Washington, where a leading technology trade association gathered members from across the country — including the Wisconsin Technology Council — to hear about industry and legislative trends and to meet with lawmakers on both sides of the partisan aisle.

It was an exercise carried out in hopes that if any issue could unite Washington’s factions, it would be building a more competitive economy.

Topics included recruiting and training skilled workers in information technology, data security, enhancing the technology infrastructure, privacy issues, and trade, especially around the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. The USMCA is the most likely successor to the North America Free Trade Agreement.

“The 116th Congress will be a significantly partisan atmosphere, although there will be some opportunity for bipartisan compromise,” noted Elizabeth Hyman, executive vice president of public policy for CompTIA. CompTIA members include about 120 major tech companies and 40 state and provincial tech associations in North America.

Tech apprenticeships: A bipartisan bill that shows promise for states such as Wisconsin, which needs more workers of all descriptions and especially those with tech skills, in the CHANCE in Tech Act. That’s an acronym for Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology.

The bill is a recognition that tech apprenticeships in the United States are largely a patchwork of programs that don’t always result in certificates that are “portable” from one workplace to another. It would instruct the U.S. Department of Labor to award contracts to industry intermediaries to develop apprenticeships in tech; define how those intermediaries — such as tech colleges and industry groups — would work with business; and make apprenticeships available to high school students, early college science and tech students, and post-secondary students. Many IT professions don’t require a four-year college degree and jobs can be filled with a skilled workforce that has other certified training.

(Continued)

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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