Keep in mind, my professional world steers pretty clear of Federal governing. I will write/email to my Congressman and Senators on occasions (not as much as I should, truth be told). But involvement on actual Bills or Laws? Not really.
I started to write this on Thursday afternoon, grabbing a bite to eat while waiting for my plane at Reagan International airport in DC. I spent the day in DC catching up on work.
CompTIA has (in my humble opinion) has created a great opportunity to actually peel back the layers and involve myself at least a smidge in the process of actually making the sausage. Hearing from some elected officials (I think we heard 2 Senators and 2 Congressmen) and meeting with some Congressional Staff.
Spoiler alert: If you’re looking for conspiracy theories or talk about political wheeling and dealing, stop reading now. To be sure, there’s some truth to that view of the world. But not in terms of this process and/or experience on my part.
CompTia has apparently done this program for 7 or so years. And they choose a topic and/or bill that they feel represents the interest of the IT (Information Technology) Sector. And they gather folks (like yours truly…sorta) for a day and a half. The highlight is the afternoon of the second day, where everyone from each state (in our case, Ohio), will go on a whirlwind tour of 20 minute meetings with elected representatives (or their staff) from their state to discuss this issue (plus other topics as seen fit).
There were about 180 or so (I believe) attendees. And most attendees (I suspect at least half) were representatives from technology advocacy groups. There were also several larger IT vendors. But there weren’t a lot of folks like me. The small business owner. The guy out on the street. And I think that’s a shame, but certainly not CompTIA’s fault.
So, Tuesday afternoon was a welcome luncheon, followed by some reviews of the issues we were being asked to discuss the next day during our meetings. That evening was an awards dinner.
Wednesday, we heard from both CompTIA, a couple of Congressfolks, and the Acting Chair of the FTC.
Thursday afternoon was the fun part. Attendees broke into groups based on their states. The Ohio group was myself, Dean Brainard (Executive Director of OHTec) and Dan McMullen (Partner at Calfee and Halter). We “attacked” the Hill. Over the afternoon we went from one office to another, meeting with staff for Senators Brown and Portman, and Congressfolks Fudge, Kaptur and Joyce.
The key topic was promoting a Bill (under development) called the “CHANCE in TECH Act.” “Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology Act.” I’m constantly talking to employers (especially in the manufacturing sector) that have job openings, but with skill requirements that the employee pools can’t fill. This would help bridge that chasm. It’s a bit of an answer to the “I can’t get a job because I don’t have the experience. I can’t get the experience because I don’t have a job.”
Here’s a surprise. And a pleasant one on my part. Republican or Democrat, nobody blamed, demonized or accused the other side. No matter the topic, everyone looked for opportunities to bring up bipartisan opportunities.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. I did sneak out in the morning over to the Smithsonian Air & Space museum as well as the Smithsonian American Indian. Haven’t been to the latter, and had to check out the former.
They’ve got the Enterprise. The original actually used in the original Star Trek series. The original NCC-1701 no A, no B, no C, no D Enterprise. Made me a happy little geek. Yeah, it’s not a real spacecraft. Especially as opposed to the many, many other cool things to see (including a really cool model of CVN-65, the USS Enterprise…aircraft carrier, recently retired). But it's the freakin Enterprise!
The native American museum was pretty cool as well, although I need to spend more time there. I thought they struck a nice balance between the history of the societies leading up to European…ah…”influence?” and the various layers of integration since (both good and bad).
Mind you, this was all after the CompTia FlyIn ’17 conference had concluded.