The future is hiring: What cyber jobs are local businesses looking for?

JOE HOTCHKISS/STAFF Latasha Cook, senior talent acquisition business partner at ADP’s Augusta office, snaps a selfie with Augustus, the office’s mascot, during a ribbon-cutting June 16 for the company’s new office space off Flowing Wells Road.

But wait! There’s more!

 

The full study isn’t expected to be released until Monday, but authors of Augusta University’s first Cyber Workforce Study previewed a few interesting glimpses of Augusta – present and future – as a supercharged technology hub.

As I reported June 16, the study found that Augusta already is a cyber hub, and our area is poised for at least 138 percent cyber job growth in the next two to five years.

But there was at least one other interesting finding I didn’t manage to fit into the original article.

As AU pored through government labor statistics and surveys from 278 area companies, nonprofits and public agencies, researchers compiled a ranking of how many local folks perform certain cyber jobs and how much money they make.

If you take Fort Gordon out of the equation, an estimated 2,880 occupations comprise the Augusta area’s cyber workforce. So far. All these numbers are from 2016, and more workers are expected to trickle into the area almost every day.

So what’s the most prevalent cyber job locally? According to AU, it’s computer user support specialist. That’s the expert you talk to on the phone or by email when your computer won’t work, or after you mistakenly use your DVD drive as a coffee cup holder. There are about 560 such specialists in the area. That’s 19 percent of the non-fort cyber workforce.

That job also ranks as the lowest-paid, but don’t let that fool you. Computer user support specialists have an annual mean wage of $46,150, which isn’t too shabby for, say, a student just getting out of college.

The least prevalent job is web developer, which is a programmer who creates websites and web applications. There are only about 50 of those people around here, or 2 percent of the cyber workforce, according to AU. The annual mean wage is $68,810.

The highest-paid local cyber job listed in the study is computer and information services manager. On a lot of career lists, that’s among the highest-paid jobs period. That’s a manager who oversees and directs all computer-related activities within a business. AU records an annual mean wage of $110,390 for that.

I’m just saying: If you know a recent graduate who’s casting about for a career, get your hands on a copy of this AU study and wave it under his or her nose. Augusta-area companies are looking for graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in information technology and computer science.

It’s the future, and the future is hiring.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Until I was invited to see it, I had no idea that Golden Harvest Food Bank had its own garden behind The Master’s Table soup kitchen downtown on Fenwick Street.

The kitchen feeds more than 300 people a day, and it wants to boost the amount of fresh produce it offers its clients.

So it started the Healthy Plate initiative, which aims for a 25 percent increase in using fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. That food will come from local growers and the food bank’s own backyard garden.

Dozens of volunteers showed up the morning of June 17, before it got too hot, to turn dirt and pull weeds in the garden’s 40 beds.

If you’d like to pitch in, the next Volunteer Day in the Garden is July 22 from 9 a.m. to noon. You can sign up by calling (706) 736-1199 and asking for Ashley Siler.

I didn’t get my hands dirty, but I enjoyed the smell of fresh mint and basil, and I marveled at some of the stuff they were harvesting.

There was plenty of squash, tomatoes and at least one zucchini the size of my thigh just asking to be made into zucchini bread.

I also got to meet Roy Beach. He’s an Iraq War veteran and a graduate of Helms College’s superb culinary school.

He’s also Golden Harvest’s new “urban gardener,” working half time managing the garden and finding ways to use its bounty to help feed Augusta’s hungry. He just might be Augusta’s only paid urban gardener.

The food bank has several ties to Helms, the postsecondary career school sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia.

Erica Chaney, Helms’ former assistant director of culinary education, is now The Master’s Table’s kitchen manager. Robert Smoak, the Table’s head chef, is a Helms grad.

It’s these kinds of partnerships that keep good charities going.

PUT ’ER THERE, PARTNER: Another food bank partner from way back is the Augusta branch of Elanco. Elanco is the veterinary pharmaceutical branch of Eli Lilly and Co.

Its plant here mostly produces Posilac, a supplement that boosts milk yields in cows.

But Elanco volunteers literally turned the first spades of dirt for Golden Harvest’s garden when it first was planted seven years ago, and they’ve been volunteering ever since.

There were plenty of Elanco folks out in the morning heat June 17.

In addition to the man hours and financial contributions, Elanco even grows food for the food bank. Elanco has a Burke County farm of about 1,000 acres where the company grows watermelons. Each July, Golden Harvest is treated to each new crop.

SPEAKING OF PARTNERSHIPS: Here’s another example of businesses helping the community: ADP.

The Augusta branch of Automatic Data Processing, the human resources management company, cut the ribbon June 16 on 60,000 more square feet of office space off Flowing Wells Road.

ADP sure knows how to throw a ribbon-cutting. It even featured Augustus, the golf-ball-headed mascot for the Augusta office.

The facility that day was brimming with guests, including a lot of local academic officials. Why? That’s part of ADP’s community partnership. For years, ADP has been funding scholarships for Augusta University, Augusta Tech and Paine College for students pursuing STEM studies — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. ADP also provides funding support for tutorial centers to help students in challenging STEM fields.

Businesses and industries these days can’t exist in a civic vacuum. To truly thrive, they have to be active community partners. And Augusta is full of them.

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