Washington — A computer gamer who struggles through a series of challenges to advance to the next level is demonstrating some of the characteristics that employers are seeking, particularly in technology-related fields where jobs are going unfilled, a White House official told about 250 education, government, and nonprofit representatives here on Tuesday.
“The game industry has done a good job of grabbing and maintaining the attention of both young people and adults,” said Thomas Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The industry has also managed to keep players on the “knife’s edge” as they persevere through tough challenges without getting frustrated and giving up, he said.
He delivered his comments at a forum, presented by The Atlantic, that examined how educational technology could help students land the growing number of jobs that require science, mathematics, and technology know-how.
Andrea L. Taylor, the Microsoft Corporation’s director for North America community affairs, said the company had 5,000 jobs with starting salaries of $100,000 or more that are going unfilled because applicants lack the required technological skills.
She said that an applicant who came to Microsoft with some kind of certificate showing that he or she had entry-level skills in technology “could be trained on the job.”
Satish Menon, chief technology officer at the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, also plugged certificates as alternatives to degrees in a tech field. “The real disruption will take place as companies say, ‘If you can demonstrate mastery, we’ll hire you. We don’t care if you have a degree,’” he said.
Mr. Kalil mentioned a wildly popular online course in artificial intelligence that attracted 160,000 students as evidence that online classes can teach tech skills relatively cheaply. “There are high fixed costs associated with development,” he said, “but the marginal costs of making it available to people is essentially zero.”