Tina Schuelke, founder of Change Management Communications Center, LLC is one of the drivers behind Amplify Oshkosh and considers herself to be Amplify’s “biggest fan.” Schuelke is on the executive committee and the committee that plans events. She sat down with InsightStaff Reporter Andrew Schaick to talk about what Amplify means for the Oshkosh region and its direction going forward.
It’s no secret there isa shortage of workers in the technology field. A job in an IT-related career field is one of those great jobs to have, but a hard job to fill since people don’t necessarily self-identify as a technology employee. The ironic part to this is everyone who works is working with technology. With cell phones, tablets, computers and even televisions, technology is all around us and we immerse ourselves in it every day. It’s likely if you are problem solving, you are going to be working in technology.
Amplify was formed to address this issue. It started about three years ago when the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce conducted a study to look at business clusters in the spirit of economic development. The study recognized there is a manufacturing cluster, a technology cluster and an aviation cluster among others in the area.
Amplify is addressing what was discovered in that study to support and grow the presence of technology in the community and leverage what we have and what’s working for us in order for us to keep growing in terms of technology.
The program has become and continues to grow into a really inspiring group. This collaboration/movement is all about supporting technology, businesses, careers and education in our community.
If you look at graduation figures, there have not been a lot of graduates in our area who are leaving college with IT degrees or certifications. Part of this problem is the perception on the career that creates a negative stereotype about the “typical IT worker.” However, if you go to technology businesses you see people interacting and solving problems. Basically it’s not that Dilbert cartoon we are used to reading.
Since Amplify began, we helped bring together leaders in education and businesses to help encourage students to choose careers in technology. The Oshkosh Area School District, Fox Valley Technical College and UW-Oshkosh have created programs for students to start their career path in high school by offering classes at these institutions so they can complete their program much faster and be prepared to enter the workforce.
As part of our mission, we want to continually attract more people. There are so many jobs in technology to fill and that number is going to do nothing but grow. The Oshkosh area will support more than 25 percent of the state’s tech jobs, so it only makes sense to have a movement like Amplify here.
We are very intentional about raising the awareness of what already exists in Oshkosh and the region by creating events that have a high-energy feel and allow people to share ideas.
Overall, we have reached more than 1,000 people through these events and Amplify itself is supported by more than 100 businesses. These events keep growing and as they grow, so does our audience and the well-received feedback.
The next steps for Amplify is we really want to create and gain more traction on creating a peer group for people who are working in technology specifically. This way they can solve problems collaboratively like coding and security issues that arise.
We are always looking for more support from people who want to work with us or who are interested in funding the program. As part of our mission we always welcome anyone and everyone who have ideas and a passion for technology as we do.