Select Page
The Web Professionals Organization Announces New Competitions

The Web Professionals Organization Announces New Competitions

Over the past 25 years, we have been working hand in hand with education as we push forward our mission to support web professionals with education, community, and certification.  Over the years, funding requirements for career and technical education have shifted. We know that we need to do what we can to help administrators meet the funding requirements so they can continue to provide the tools teachers need to upskill students, open up career pathways, and ensure students’ career readiness for high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations.

As part of our mission to engage the next generation of professionals, we partnered with SkillsUSA in 2004 and started the National Web Design and Development Competitive Event. Our event team has run this competition ever since, and did not even skip a beat during COVID-19. We have learned so much over these years about how to blend industry expectations with secondary and post-secondary learners. 

Our industry team that runs the SkillsUSA event also has experience developing and running international competitions in artificial intelligence, robotics and game development. It is this wealth of experience that brings us to where we are today and our announcement for a new competition.

In this article we will discuss:

  • Our history of successfully running web competitions
  • The creation of a new competition model
  • The three competition variations
  • The career pathway trinity of curriculum, certification, and competition
  • How the competitions will develop the next generation of students/future web professionals

Background

We have had teachers asking us to run more competitions for years.  While we have always been willing, we knew we had to do it in a way that could scale easily and enable students anywhere in the world to not only compete but also to learn. Otherwise, we would not be meeting our core mission. 

Behind the scenes, we have been testing a new virtual competition model. This model will allow us to provide an international industry competition for secondary education students. All our testing has shown us that we have a viable competition system ready to go. Creating this virtual competition also allows us to push forward the message of how people with disabilities or specific conditions that might make other careers difficult are not a limitation in the broad and welcoming world of web professional careers. 

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were one of only two competitive teams who ran their SkillsUSA National Competition. We were not going to let COVID break our perfect record of running our part of the SkillsUSA competitive events.  Admittedly, we were not allowed to run the event as an official SkillsUSA competition. We had already taken steps to simulate a web environment at Skills, so we simply took some of that experience and ran our web design competition virtually in 2020 for SkillsUSA programs who wanted to take part in the web design event in an unofficial capacity. 

One teacher who recently ran a competition had this to say about the experience: “If they want a great experience, they should use this program for running the competition. Anyone who is even remotely knowledgeable in using a computer can get the students on and running in the event. Most of it is hands-off for the advisor and the students do the bulk of the work. The user experience was great from a student’s perspective. I was very happy to find out that we were getting to have a professional experience in the web design category that was going to challenge my students and provide all of the necessary online materials for the competition. Thank you for making this event possible first and foremost. Without Web Professionals Org and their team, we wouldn’t have had a web design event in Mississippi.”

It is through this experience we realized that many schools have situations where it is not feasible to compete in a standard career and technical student organization (CTSO) event, yet they need to compete in a national event to meet some of their funding requirements. As the international professional industry organization we have the real-world experience and technical expertise to deliver competitions that are equitable, accessible and simple for educators to implement.  We see the need and we can fill the need. 

Overview of the New Competition 

We are proud to announce that the Web Professionals Organization will be running the following Future Web Professionals competitions virtually beginning in the 22/23 school year for the benefit of US-based and international career and technical education partner programs.

The motto of the Future Web Professionals competition is “Success Favors the Prepared.” We feel this fits with what we want our educators as well as future and current professional members to always remember. Lifelong learners are always striving to be prepared. Let’s face it—industry leaders are always better prepared. We see this as the next stage in supporting creating the next generation of industry professionals. 

In talking to our secondary educators, we found that many of them see a group of three areas that their learners are most attracted to.

  • Web design is a first obvious pick as it is the in-demand and high-paying career most people think of when they hear the words “web professional.” And they are right—as the U.S. Department of Labor cites the profession as one of the most high-demand, high-skill and high-paying.
  • Web animation is a bit more subtle of a choice and may not be as obvious. As companies look to market and brand themselves, they are always seeking to visually engage their target audiences with new innovative messaging on websites and social media. Web animation is one of the most important tools web professionals can use to help their clients propel their stories with or without dialogue. This career path has a ton of opportunities in web marketing, media and entertainment industries. 
  • Web game design is another pathway that attracts audiences and enables them to experience a company’s brand and story. Web games can attract new audiences to a website and allow new markets to discover brands organically through social media platforms. The game design pathway also teaches the value of interactivity in engagement. Today, 50% of all video gaming revenue comes from games played on mobile devices and 30% of mobile gamers are over 45 years old. Web game development is all about combining story, graphics, and choice into playable experiences. We also find that experience in developing web-based games helps strengthen a designer’s overall skill set. 

We will issue awards to top-performing future designers as well as acknowledge schools nationally for their work in preparing future professionals. The competitions will run so that both fall and spring semester learners can participate. 

Preparation—Curriculum, Certification, and Competition

We are a non-profit industry organization with a 25-year history of working not only with industry, but also with education and workforce. We have seen what it takes to prepare individuals for high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations.  A competition alone is not the way. We know it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a similar approach to raise a professional. 

Each of these competitions is part of what we see as the career pathway trinity or what we refer to internally as the 3Cs: Curriculum, Certification, and Competition.  

  • Curriculum: We create the foundation for your students to learn through a media-rich, real-world and project-based approach. This is not about simply learning coding skills, but engaging in the concepts, hard and soft skills that we know are important as professionals. This creates the whole learner who becomes a whole professional. 
  • Certification: The curriculum prepares the students to earn international industry-recognized certifications. However, our model of certification represents far more than passing an exam—our certification represents the whole learner. The whole future professional. Students are acknowledged for completing a career readiness body of work. They express their development through their college and career-ready portfolios with real-world examples of their creativity, problem-solving, and soft and technical skills. The capstone in each learner’s portfolio is the student’s ethics in the workplace micro-credential and their international industry-recognized certification. Their portfolio is portable and becomes a testament to career preparation success and a confidence-boosting career-affirming expression of each future professional. 
  • Competition: Finally, we offer the learners the opportunity to compete and test their skills on an international stage. As a professional organization, we are naturally global in scope. We are US-based, and we work to support professionals domestic and international. The international context of the competition reminds learners that they are part of a global community. In the future, they may work for international companies or have international team members—and they are always in competition on a global scale. Regardless of how well students do in the competition, they learn valuable skills in meeting project expectations and having their work stand with the work of those around the U.S. and the rest of the globe.

Helping you meet Carl Perkins funding requirements

For years we have heard from administrators, department chairs, and countless educators about the struggles they have trying to balance the needs of their learners and the demands of Carl Perkins funding.  For larger districts with more administrative support this may not be a pressing issue—however, this can be a daunting task for rural, urban and small districts.  We believe we are making it easier for all educators to get their funding by taking advantage of our curriculum, certification, and competition approach. If you want to talk with us, reach out to us at Steve@4WebPro.org

We are excited to offer this opportunity to CTE educators. We know that by adding this component to a CTE program we can help schools fulfill their Carl Perkins funding requirements more easily. We understand the frustration administrators feel and are doing what we can to make it a bit easier. We also see this as an opportunity for us to meet our mission and help welcome the future generation of web professionals, some of whom will eventually take our places here at their Web Professionals Organization and do their part for the future.  

One more note

As of the 22/23 school year, we will only offer this competition for our secondary partners.  However, our post-secondary partners are already asking when it will be available to them.  We promise that we are serious about bringing the competition to post-secondary and our workforce partners, but for now we ask them to remain patient. Please reach out to us today with any questions about this exciting new model. 

 

Taking a Look at Cybersecurity

Taking a Look at Cybersecurity

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there has been a renewed focus on one of the most important web topics: cybersecurity.

Cyberwarfare has been a major focus of Russia’s efforts to disrupt daily life in Ukraine. While there have not been large-scale attacks yet, there have been reports of smaller attacks. Last week, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) said that it has discovered phishing attacks from Russia aimed at Ukrainian and Polish officials. In fact, hundreds of threats emanating from Russia over the past twelve months resulted in warnings being issued to Ukrainian users. One of these threats is WhisperGate, a malware that displays a fake ransomware note to users, encrypts files and can destroy data and disable devices.

U.S. Army Cyber Command has been aiding Ukraine in improving its cyber defenses since the 2015 Russia-led attack on the Ukraine power grid that temporarily shut down Kyiv. The U.S. has continued to work with Ukraine in recent months to prepare for the types of cyber attacks occurring now as well as potential large-scale events like infrastructure attacks that would make it much more difficult for Ukraine to defend itself. 

There have also been reports of coordinated Russian campaigns aimed at disrupting U.S. firms that supply natural gas, as natural gas has become increasingly valuable in recent weeks following sanctions against Russia that affect exports.

Additionally, there have been reports of the hacking collective called Anonymous hacking Russian targets in retaliation, as well as Chinese hackers using the Ukraine crisis to target European officials for a variety of purposes. It’s clear that cybersecurity continues to be one of the most important web issues. 

One of the biggest cyber attacks in the U.S. took place in May of 2021, when the Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware attack carried out by the Eastern European hacking group DarkSide. The Colonial Pipeline supplies half of the East Coast’s gasoline, making it a high-value target for hackers. The pipeline was down for several days, which caused gasoline price spikes, shortages and panic buying. It was reported by Bloomberg that the hackers launched the attack after gaining access to a leaked password for an old account that had access to the virtual private network (VPN) used to remotely access company servers. 

The company eventually paid the $4.4 million ransom in bitcoin, and the U.S. Department of Justice has since tracked down and recovered roughly half of it by successfully tracing the bitcoins. However, the CEO of Colonial Pipeline Company admitted that the hack ended up costing the company tens of millions of dollars to restore systems.

Taking Action 

With cyber attacks on the rise, now is a good time to do a security check-up to make sure you and your organization aren’t susceptible to hackers. Many believe that these Russian-led cyber attacks will soon spread to businesses and individuals in other countries. Make sure that your organization has budget resources dedicated to ensuring your cybersecurity strategy is robust.  

Make sure you use private connections, inspect your code regularly, be cautious of suspicious-looking emails, employ a strong password strategy and have multiple backups of your information. Make sure that all employees, including new ones, understand the organizational strategy and policy for protecting against cyber attacks. Remember that hackers don’t always need to exploit multiple vulnerabilities—sometimes they only need one to do serious damage. 

Although the crisis in Ukraine has brought awareness of cybersecurity to the forefront, having a cybersecurity plan and committing to executing it year-round will help to ensure you and your organization stay protected from hackers and avoid costly disruptions.  

Read More: The Importance of Web Accessibility

 

The Importance of Web Accessibility

The Importance of Web Accessibility

Web accessibility is the practice of making websites and web tools accessible to as many people as possible, and it is rapidly growing in importance in the world of web design and development. The web levels the playing field for people from all different walks of life and removes barriers for people who may have disabilities and struggle in one way or another in the physical world. 

With more people than ever working and learning from home, it is important to make sure websites and web tools are properly designed so that no user is left out. Poor website and web tool design can limit accessibility, often unintentionally. It is up to web designers and developers to ensure the products and services they offer can be easily utilized by everyone.

In addition to supporting people with disabilities, accessibility can include other groups that are often marginalized such as populations in rural areas, populations in developing countries, and older populations. Additionally, improving accessibility is a good business decision as it improves the overall user experience for all users. An increased focus on accessibility can spearhead new product and service offerings as well as expand market share. Once accessibility becomes a priority for you and your organization, it will become an integral part of the design process.

web accessibility

Let’s take a look at some of the most common disabilities, and how smart design can make the web accessible for all.

Cognitive impairments

This group includes people with a wide range of disabilities including learning disabilities and mental illness. The most common issues this group has when using the web are difficulties understanding content on websites and how to navigate complex web page layouts. To help this group, designers can focus on making easily understood content by delivering the content in more than one way, such as text, video, and text-to-speech. Maintaining a consistent web page layout and making forms easy to understand and submit are other ways to ensure accessibility for this group.

Mobility impairments

This group includes people with different disabilities ranging from physical impairments to neurological conditions. Disabilities include difficulties moving a mouse around on the computer screen and conditions that require assistive technologies such as speech recognition. Designing a website that can be fully navigated with just a keyboard can go a long way toward meeting the needs of this group.

Visual impairments

This group includes people with blindness, limited vision and color blindness. To help this group, it is important to include tools with zoom capabilities for websites and web tools. It is also helpful to include screen readers so that users can opt to have the text on the site read aloud to them. 

Hearing impairments

This group includes people who are completely deaf or partially hard of hearing. To keep websites accessible for people in this group, make sure all audio content is transcribed and all video content has closed captioning easily available. 

Designers and organizations often publish accessibility statements on their websites to provide an overview of accessibility policies and what steps have been taken to improve in this area. This can be a good way to be transparent, and it is also an opportunity to solicit feedback from users about areas for improvement.

The World Health Organization states that over 1 billion people—15% of the global population—have a disability. By not incorporating accessibility into websites and web tools, designers and organizations miss out on a massive number of people who might otherwise be potential users. Accessibility in web design is the right thing to do, makes the experience better for all users, and can help businesses grow worldwide. For more information on web accessibility, contact us today.

Read More: Taking a Look at Cybersecurity

 

Web Professionals Organization Announces Improved Model for 2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Competition

Web Professionals Organization Announces Improved Model for 2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Competition

The Web Professionals Organization is proud to announce a new and streamlined model for states to deploy SkillsUSA Web Design and Development competitions in 2022.

Building on over 20 years of experience running competitions, including the last two years of competitions run 100% virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Web Professionals
Organization has improved the process for administering competitions at the state level. This refreshed competition model is the most accessible it has ever been, enabling students to focus on creating innovative projects and equipping facilitators to run the competition seamlessly. Students only need a PC, Mac or Chromebook and an internet connection to participate in the competitions—giving those in rural, urban and suburban areas equal access.

Competitions can be run entirely online, which levels the playing field for students across the country in the age of COVID-19. This new competition model is future-proof and will be able to be implemented for years to come, no matter what the pandemic looks like in coming years. Competitions are run for free, and the model makes the judging process more standardized and easier than ever before. States can run competitions whenever they want throughout 2022.

Not only does our new approach make it easier for any state to run their own web design and development competition, but it also ensures that every state is conducting their own competition that models the expectations the competitors will need to meet at the national competition. This gives every state—from small to large—the same turnkey resources to ensure a successful competition. This model is intended to only be used for the current cycle of SkillsUSA competitions.

Highlights of this new model include:

  • Competition project with all graphic and textual assets that are similar in scope and style to what the competitors will experience at the national competition.
  • Competitor coding validator (a simple app) that will automatically check a team’s project and give your judging team a report outlining the quality of coding. This tool does in just minutes what would take a person one hour, dramatically cutting down on judging time.
  • Easy-to-apply rubrics help both new and veteran judges quickly evaluate team projects for creativity, design and best practices.
  • Web-based coding editor and folder system allows judges to easily review any state competitor submissions. Judges can review work with just an internet connection, allowing states to have judges join virtually from anywhere.
  • Web-based editor and site storage means your events committee does not have to worry that any competitor’s work can be lost or misplaced—all of it remains safe on the web.
  • Judging preparation materials and training videos are included to make it easy for new judges to quickly get up to speed and be able to deliver consistent judging.
  • Optional competition kickoff and welcome video delivers a consistent message to all competitors as well as some helpful hints about the competition project.
  • Technical back up and support provided by the Web Professionals Organization.
  • Fast and easy sign-up for state SkillsUSA leadership teams to reserve their free competition kit and web-based tools suite.

Because of these new systems the Web Professionals Organization is implementing for this year, any state can run a turnkey competition and give students an opportunity to build
meaningful projects in an engaging online environment. All of this is provided free of charge to any state wishing to have an organized and impactful state-level web design and development competition to prepare their students well for the national competition.

The Re-emergence of Webmasters

The Re-emergence of Webmasters

Anyone who has been around websites for some time will remember that “webmasters” once did it all. Webmasters were the ones who created, managed and hosted websites, acting as a one-stop shop for all things related to the internet.  It is why our organization was created as the World Organization of Webmasters, and retains that formal business name to this day. 

Over the years, as people moved away from the term webmaster to more specific job roles such as web designers and web developers, we adopted the Web Professionals Organization name. However, we have never forgotten our roots and have always maintained a webmaster certification pathway. 

Today we have certifications including web design, web animation, e-commerce, WordPress, web and mobile apps, web technologies, web game design, remote working and many more. While these certifications grew rapidly and still remain popular, we are now seeing a resurgence in people interested in becoming certified webmasters. In fact, recent recipients of the Web Professionals Organization Webmaster certification include a student in Brazil.

Why become a webmaster?

Admittedly, most websites today are more of a team event than websites in the 1990s and 2000s. However, the growth in the interest in webmastering is due to the fact that websites are so much more complex than back then. It’s important that someone understand how all aspects of a website fit together to keep it optimized. The webmaster is like the captain of a ship, understanding the interconnectedness of all the crew and their responsibilities. Because of this, the role has been growing again in recent years.

The role of a webmaster

Webmasters have a broad understanding of all the technologies that come together to make a website work. They also understand how to identify where improvements can be made and how to take advantage of new web trends to improve the effectiveness of websites.  They are concerned with all aspects of the company’s web presence. Like a great captain, they watch everything and are constantly looking for ways to improve. Webmasters cannot tell their boss, “That isn’t my department,” because pretty much everything is their department. 

They monitor website performance for design, speed, accuracy, and functionality. They oversee marketing efforts, outreach campaigns, and content creation, and even handle information technology work including server administration. And they constantly maintain, update and improve their websites. 

Webmasters have a wide range of skills including graphic design, SEO, HTML, WordPress, content writing, marketing and much more. Some webmasters have multiple clients and manage multiple websites at once, while others work for a single company or organization. Having both left-brain (technical) and right-brain (artistic) strengths is extremely beneficial for webmasters to execute their jobs well.

Interested in pursuing a career as a webmaster?

This career pathway demands professionals who are technically savvy yet can think on their feet about adapting to and meeting customer and client needs. They are essentially a blend of a tech nerd and a skilled marketer. If you like the idea of knowing that your choices have a real everyday impact on a company’s future, you might want to explore becoming a webmaster. Reach out to us today to learn more about the certifications the Web Professionals Organization offers and how we can help you achieve your professional goals. It’s never too late to continue to develop your skills or even make a career change into one of the many exciting and growing web careers.

Q&A with Web Professionals Organization Certification Recipient and SkillsUSA Award Winner

Q&A with Web Professionals Organization Certification Recipient and SkillsUSA Award Winner

This past summer, the Web Professionals Organization helped run the SkillsUSA web design and development competition. Open to contestants nationwide, 2021 marked the first year that the full competition was run entirely online. The competition’s goal was to “evaluate each contestant’s preparation for employment and to recognize outstanding students for excellence and professionalism in the field of web design and development.” The competition was open to teams of two who were interested in pursuing web design and development as a potential career.

Megan B., along with her teammate Ariana M., won the silver medal in the competition. Upon being awarded their medals, the two were offered internship opportunities with CTeLearning, a STEM curriculum development company in Kansas that serves secondary, post-secondary and adult learners. Other event medalists landed internships with industry members on the SkillsUSA events committee. Megan began her internship in July and worked on various projects to support CTeLearning courses involving animation, web games, web design and development and more.

Megan worked fully remotely as an intern, collaborating with team members in the midwest and northeast US as well as in the United Kingdom. The internship helped Megan understand how powerful the idea of “living locally, working globally” truly is in the new remote economy.

Megan also earned certifications through the Web Professionals Organization to develop her skills and bolster her resume.

We caught up with Megan to hear more about her experience participating in the competition and her internship.

What did you learn from your experience competing and earning an award at the SkillsUSA web design competition? 

I learned how to minimize work to make it sleek and effective in a crunched time frame. I also learned I was capable of making a great website in a small amount of time.

What was the experience like doing the entire competition online?

It was fun as I enjoyed having my partner and I in a room by ourselves, even though there were eyes watching. Honestly, I think ours was the easiest to do online, because that is where we work anyway.

What attracted you to web design?

I have always wanted to figure out how websites and games were built on the computer. Ever since I was little, playing on a Windows 98, showing my grandma how to play solitaire on it. Then, watching shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds, I was always drawn to the ‘computer geek’ character. When I heard I didn’t need to move to somewhere like California to become a coder, I jumped on the chance to learn. I also believe being a woman in this field helps show girls and other women they can do this too.

What has your experience been like working remotely with team members in other states and countries?

I was at first concerned about communication being hard remotely, but my experience with CTeLearning has been amazing. Communication issues are rare, and I enjoy being able to make my own schedule. It really is a great way of working.

How has earning certifications changed your view of global connectivity and people being able to learn and work remotely from anywhere?

Earning certifications in this field has shown me anyone at any age and with any knowledge of coding can learn it easily. I started learning code at the age of 24, after going back to college for the second time. If you have the willingness to learn, you can do anything with the right help.

How has earning certifications and the internship experience empowered you as a web design professional?

This experience has helped me tremendously with my confidence in what I can achieve. I now know I am capable of being effective and efficient in the web design field. 

What would you tell a hiring manager in a job interview about your experience in the SkillsUSA competition? What transferable skills did you gain that make you a more desirable hire? 

I would give them a description of what I did and how the competition works and what we were scored on, making sure to let them know it is a national competition. SkillsUSA definitely helped me learn how to work in a team environment with coding, being able to get a project as a whole and break it down into smaller parts to code, and gave me experience working with a client.

The Web Professionals Organization is proud to support professionals like Megan who are continuing to grow in their web development careers. Contact us today to find out how we can help you grow as a professional, no matter where in the world you live.

 

Q&A With Web Professionals Certification Recipient in Albania

Q&A With Web Professionals Certification Recipient in Albania

The Web Professionals Organization would like to congratulate Edra T., the first person in Albania to earn a certification from Web Professionals. Edra earned her Web Developer Associate certification to further her career in web development. Edra’s success shows that you can take advantage of remote learning and working to develop your career, no matter where in the world you live.

We talked to Edra to find out more about how she earned her certification, the importance of certifications in her home country, and the world of global remote work.  

What did you like about your experience earning the certification?

The thought of having my skills and knowledge certified is really appealing, but the part that I enjoyed the most was the entire process of studying for the exam. Despite having some prior knowledge, I consulted the materials mentioned in the WebProfessionals self-study section and read the referenced books. That helped me understand that no matter how well I thought I understood things worked, there was always something I didn’t know and something new to learn.

What attracted you to web development?

Growing up in a post-communist country came with its own set of constraints and obstacles. I initially chose computer science as my major because I’ve always wanted to develop systems and programs that make life easier. I also wanted to fight the perception that the field is masculine, as it has long been a male-dominated field. I eventually became an intern at the company where I now work as a .NET developer. My company assisted and contributed to the certification of my skills, and I’m grateful and pleased to see their involvement in employee professional development. 

How are industry certifications viewed in Albania? Do employers value them?

Although the Albanian technology market has yet to expand, the demand for web developers and software engineers has been steadily increasing and will most likely continue to do so in the coming years. While certification isn’t required throughout the hiring process, it is seen as a major plus by most employers. The number of employers interested in hiring certified workers is rapidly increasing.

How has earning the certification changed your view of global connectivity and people being able to learn and work remotely from any country?

Remote work is the biggest trend in development right now. It is not only adaptable but also incredibly efficient for employees. The idea of being in Albania and taking a certification exam that is acknowledged in many prominent institutions and other countries was very appealing to me. Earning the certification made me realize that web development allows people like me to work remotely freely and efficiently, which is especially important now that the globe is gripped by a global pandemic and traveling to work or study is more difficult.

How has earning the certification empowered you to take the next step in your career?

Most significantly, the certification helped me gain confidence in my skills. This was something I lacked as a young web developer and struggled with, as other young developers do. I believe that confidence is a big bonus when looking for a job, and being able to confirm your skills and knowledge helps a lot in gaining that confidence.

How was your experience working with the Web Professionals Organization?

I’ve had a great time working with the Web Professionals Organization so far. Everyone on the Web Professionals team has been very helpful and attentive. They have expressed interest in my journey frequently and worked hard to make the experience easy and enjoyable. I’m very thankful and would like to keep working with the Web Professionals Organization in the future.

Be the Next Certification Recipient

The Web Professionals Organization is proud of Edra and all of its certification recipients around the globe. If you are interested in furthering your career in web technologies, contact us today. No matter what country you live in, we would love to work with you.

 

Freelance and Remote Work Opportunities Expanding for Web Careers

Freelance and Remote Work Opportunities Expanding for Web Careers

Virtually every industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year and a half. Companies and organizations in web design and development, finance, healthcare, IT, education and many more have scrambled to adapt to the new normal that is work from home (WFH). In turn, many employees have come to the realization that they are happier and just as productive in their jobs when working from home. As some companies and organizations have begun to require that employees return to the office, workers are weighing their options and beginning to think in ways that they might not have before the pandemic.

A recent study by Upwork estimated that 10 million workers in the U.S. are considering becoming freelancers, or independent contractors, due in large part to the fact that the vast majority of freelancers work remotely. The trend has been coined “The Great Resignation,” as the majority of workers consider themselves “neutral” or “not excited” at the prospect of going to the office and have considered resigning in favor of a position that offers remote work or leaving full-time work and freelancing on their own. Among those surveyed, 20% are considering becoming freelancers. 73% of those respondents cited the ability to work remote or flexibly as a reason why they would seek to work as a freelancer.

Many workers are so invested in staying in a remote job that they would even take lower pay. The study found that 15% were willing to take a pay cut to be a remote worker, and another 26% would possibly take a pay cut. And among workers who consider themselves unhappy to be returning to the office, nearly two-thirds would consider taking a pay cut to work remotely.

Web designers and developers are in a great position to take advantage of this new dynamic and find jobs that offer remote work or even get their own clients and work as a freelancer. With the growth of remote work, the internet tools we rely on every day to work and communicate will become even more important, and designers and developers will continue to be in high demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the annual growth rate for web design jobs will be 15% in the coming years, more than double many other professions. In recent years the median salary for web designers has been around $70K, with the top 10% earning more than $120K. And approximately 16% of web designers are freelancers/self-employed, which is higher than most other industries. Other similar occupations such as web developers and graphic designers have a high percentage of professionals working as freelancers. There is clearly a big opportunity for those who aspire to work in these fields and envision themselves working remotely as freelancers.

The Web Professionals Organization is dedicated to supporting web professionals in all industries—including those who work remotely and in a freelance capacity. If you are interested in learning more about the professional and educational opportunities that the Web Professionals Organization offers, reach out to us today.

 

The Growth of the Internet of Things

The Growth of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, also commonly known as IoT, has been one of the hottest tech topics in recent years. IoT devices have a wide range of applications for both commercial and personal purposes including home security, supply chain control, motion detection, energy management, home appliances, health surveillance, and much more. There are an estimated 36 billion IoT devices worldwide, with that figure expected to climb to 75 billion by 2025. Today, it is already a $200 billion industry. Let’s look at some of the statistics and trends driving IoT in 2021 and beyond. 

5G Cellular Driving IoT Growth 

5G technology has become one of the primary drivers of the IoT, and this will continue in the coming years. By 2024 there will be almost 2 billion 5G cellular subscriptions, and it is estimated that 63% of mobile device subscriptions in North America will be 5G.

New Devices Coming Online

The seemingly exponential growth of both commercial and residential IoT devices will continue as internet-connected devices including televisions, medical sensors, watches, bike locks, alarm systems, microwaves, smoke alarms and even tennis rackets are created and utilized. 127 new devices are connected to the internet every second. 

Vehicles and IoT

Research suggests that internet-connected devices will become the norm in the next few years. Nearly 70% of vehicles around the world will be connected to the internet by 2023. In the U.S. the figure will be even higher, with an estimated 90% of vehicles connected to the internet.

Smart Cities Investing in IoT

Cities that embrace new technology like IoT and artificial intelligence will continue to pull away from other cities that have not invested (or don’t have the resources to invest) in this new technology infrastructure. The top 600 smart cities are expected to make up 60% of worldwide GDP by 2025. 

IoT and Cybercrime

Research suggests that it takes only an average of five minutes for an IoT device to be attacked after it has connected to the internet for the first time. While the IoT holds great promise for consumers, it also presents new opportunities for cybercriminal attacks. 

Business Cybersecurity 

Despite the rise in cyber attacks in the IoT, businesses have not fully caught on to how to defend against such attacks. 48% of businesses that use IoT can’t tell when they experience network breaches. This presents an urgent need for developers who know how to spot and defend against network compromises. 

Business Investment in IoT

Companies have quickly recognized how beneficial IoT technology can be to everyday operations and are expected to invest $15 trillion in IoT technology by 2025. There are a number of cities as well as companies like health care providers and manufacturers that have invested in IoT technology for the future to stay ahead of the curve.

The Future of the IoT Market

Various reports have suggested that the IoT could be worth $4 trillion, $5 trillion, or even $10 trillion in the next several years. Although the projections differ, they are agreed on one thing—there will be rapid and prolonged growth in the market.

It’s clear that the IoT isn’t going anywhere. Companies in a variety of industries will be in need of trained and skilled web developers and designers who know how to most effectively harness IoT technology to deliver consumers with the technology experiences they are looking for. The Web Professionals Organization is dedicated to all professionals who utilize the internet each and every day as the IoT continues to expand.

 

 

Students at Brooklyn Boys and Girls High School First in NYC to Earn Certifications through New Program

Students at Brooklyn Boys and Girls High School First in NYC to Earn Certifications through New Program

Students at the Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, NY recently completed the Web Design for Business and Marketing course and Remote Working Professional course and certifications through a brand-new program offered by the Web Professionals Organization and CTeLearning. The students are the first in NYC to complete the courses, earning integrated industry-recognized certifications and association membership. The students were led by their teacher, Tanya Wardally, who sought out the curriculum and delivered these valuable opportunities for her students. She will be proudly presenting her students their new industry credentials just in time as they leave for a well-deserved summer break.  

Future-Proofing Students 

Tanya worked with the Web Professionals Organization and CTeLearning to bring in this courseware to offer to her career and technical education students. She enabled her students to future-proof their professional paths, equipping themselves with the skills needed to succeed in the professional world—no matter how it continues to change. Having technical training skills combined with industry-recognized certifications sets these students up with the hard and soft skills to excel in whatever career path they pursue. 

It is fitting that the Boys and Girls High School, the oldest public high school in Brooklyn, is the first in the nation to offer a new way for students to learn and earn career-building industry credentials. Under this new grant program, students earned their certifications as they completed the project-based courses. The certifications were fully integrated into the courses to reduce test anxiety and equip students with the skills needed to succeed, and the certifications were offered at no charge to the school or students.

Through the two courses, students learned coding, design, industry concepts and soft skills as they completed real-world projects and built up their college- and career-ready portfolios. The short-form Remote Working Professional course is mobile-friendly, just four hours long, and features interviews with 30 remote working professionals in a variety of industries who teach students how to be effective workers in the new world of remote work. Having these skills and credentials prepares them well for their futures, no matter what path each of them takes. 

Teachers and Students Praise the Courses

Tanya spoke about how important it is to prepare students for their futures: “Today, more than ever, we educators must prepare our students for a dramatically different world of work than when we were in high school. Let’s face it: technology and the pandemic have forever changed the world of work. We have to future-proof them and make them resilient so that they can succeed in any environment. I appreciate how these courses taught both hard skills and transferable soft skills. My students loved being able to progress through the courses from any internet-connected device, including their smartphones. I would recommend these courses to any teachers and students who are looking for curriculum that will prepare students to thrive in their post-secondary and professional careers. I am so proud that they are earning not one but two international industry-recognized certifications this year—even in the midst of a pandemic.” 

Alexander W., who completed the Web Designer and Remote Working Professional courses and earned the course certifications, discussed what he learned: The Remote Working Professional course made me realize that I should definitely find my own space to have more room. I really like having a desk and everything. So I want to make sure I have that setup as well as a glass of water or whatever else I need to be successful when working on schoolwork or learning virtually at home. It also taught me the importance of maintaining a schedule, waking up at a certain time for class and making sure I get my work done. The school should definitely try to get this for all the future students. It most definitely helps prepare you.”

Another student, Christina C., talked about what she learned in the Remote Working Professional course: “The course taught me what it’s like to be in the workforce, such as how to be reliable, trustworthy and work well with other people. I think it is important to be cooperative with other people because in school we have to work in groups when learning online. And with remote working, you have to work with people.”

The Remote Working Professional Course includes an interview preparation module that teaches students how to answer the trickiest questions in job interviews and impress hiring managers. Cheyenne, another student, said one part of the module was especially helpful: “The part that stood out to me the most was learning how to answer the question, ‘Can you tell me about yourself?’ When I tried to answer this in a previous interview, I just shut down. I got the job, but it was a bad part of the interview. I now know how I would answer that question in the future.” 

Stephen Hudson, Work-Based Learning Coordinator and Career and Technical Education Teacher for Brooklyn Boys and Girls High School, had this to say about the program: I‘m not surprised that we are the originators and not the imitators. That is something that we’re very proud of, and I’m proud of Ms. Wardally for spearheading this activity to teach our students in-demand skills. We recognize that while employers are looking for technical skills, there are also soft skills and abilities that our students need to demonstrate. I like to refer to our students as diamonds in the rough. These courses and certifications take them through a process to refine them and prepare them for what they will need in a real-world situation. I’m ecstatic that we’re involved in this certification grant program. In fact, we’re going to have Ms. Wardally talk about this in our upcoming meeting with career and technical education central staff. We are so excited to announce that we are the first school in all of New York City to offer this course and certification program.”

Following the success of the students, the career and technical education team at the Boys and Girls High School met with Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the Web Professionals Organization, and Steve Waddell, lead developer of CTeLearning, to discuss the trends in web design and remote work that the students will now be able to take advantage of. Mark also took a moment to congratulate Tanya and her team for being the first in the country to take part in an innovative program of integrated certifications that can be built on each other.  

The mission of the Web Professionals Organization is to support the whole professional. By teaching students valuable skills and not boxing them into a single career pathway, the association prepares professionals to change and adapt as industries and opportunities ebb and flow. The Web Professionals Organization and CTeLearning have been working together since 2013 on innovative courseware aligned to state and national standards that incorporates industry training that is crucial to create the next generation of professionals. 

For more information on courses offered by CTeLearning, visit here and here.