Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






June 30, 1998





Office of Regional Management
SUBJECT : Year 2000 Information Technology Threats and Opportunities


  1. Purpose. To encourage the employment and training community to work with employers, associations, government agencies, and other appropriate groups to assist in addressing the Year 2000 and beyond information technology training and hiring needs.

  2. References. TEGL 7-97, and TEIN 14-97, Subject Impact of Year 2000 on State Electronic Reporting.

  3. Background. There are 18 months left until January 1, 2000. The question is, how can the employment and training system work toward ensuring that the Federal Government, State and local governments, and those in the private sector are doing all that they can to minimize disruption to programs and systems on January 1, 2000; and take advantage of the opportunity for training of participants for jobs in the information technology field?

    There is no doubt that the Year 2000 problem poses significant challenges to our Nation, and the world. To put the potential problems into perspective:

    Those who are committed to solving this problem will have to perform a delicate balancing act over the next 18 months. While it is important to increase nationwide attention to the urgent necessity of solving this problem, it is critical that we avoid creating panic and precipitous, counterproductive activity. The work of fixing the Year 2000 problem can only be done by those who are on the front lines. Senior public and private sector executives are responsible for ensuring that their organizations' mission-critical systems are ready to maintain program services. The best way to spend the next 18 months will be to address the challenges that lie ahead in a very aggressive but measured way by marshaling the resources at our disposal in the most effective way possible. Attached for your use is a series of web site addressees. You can use information on the web sites for information or presentations.

    The employment and training community have a responsibility to exercise leadership in this area. Everyone has an interest in a smooth transition to the Year 2000. In many communities, the discussion has begun with regard to the need for information technology workers. Thanks to the leadership being undertaken by the employment and training community at the local level, a valuable contribution to the public dialogue on the Year 2000 is taking place. Some firms which are attempting to address the Year 2000 technical problem are discussing their immediate need for trained staff.

    Limited opportunities exist for training which can immediately address the need for programmers, especially those with COBOL language proficiency. However, Year 2000 labor needs are reflected in all technical occupations. Some firms are replacing old noncompliant systems with newly written systems. Discussions on how to best fill the needs in this area are being broached locally at the SDA level. Also, more far reaching discussions with associations and firms in the information technology areas are occurring. Although the employment and training system cannot meet all the needs of such employers, logical linkages can and are being played out in discussions about future training programs which will permit disadvantaged and dislocated workers to become employed. Conversations are being initiated about the numbers and types of jobs available, or projected to be available, in these communities. Many of these jobs do not require a four-year degree in computer science. Openings in this field vary from engineers to help desk operators. Some of the occupations require less than six months of training. There are entry-level jobs in the information technology field which can lead to further advancement opportunities once the employee is hired and has worked in the industry. Identifying the needs of information technology in local areas is often being facilitated by associations that exist in such communities.

    Consistent with the development of State and local training plans for the next two program years, local planning is being undertaken to address how the system can assist these employers in meeting their staffing requirements. In some communities, classes are being formed which will directly impact on employers' short and long-term needs. The work may form avenues for future relationships with employers whom you are attempting to assist by providing trained personnel, including those with minimal skills whom employers will train, and offering assistance and support.

  4. Suggested Activities. States can play a major role in assisting local communities to bring the employment and training resources to bear and actively encourage innovative solutions for the Year 2000 and beyond. Some ideas to pursue, include:

    1. Assess the Needs of State and Local Labor Markets (Short and Long-Term).

        (1)  Schedule and conduct meetings with leading information technology firms in your State, with a focus on how to determine the needs throughout the State;

        (2)  Seek out and develop partnerships with State, Regional, and local technology associations with a focus on dealing with jobs related to both the Year 2000 and beyond;

        (3)  Jointly, conduct surveys of employers in the State which may have information technology needs; and

        (4)  Determine if training could meet the needs of employers who have a need for training information technology staff.

    2. Develop and Refine Strategies.

        (1)  Become a leader in your State by identifying training opportunities for addressing the Year 2000 and beyond problems that will be occurring throughout the State;

        (2)  Work closely with one-stop and other employment and training partners to establish a Statewide strategy for addressing the needs of customers within your State;

        (3)  Encourage the leveraging of funds that may be available at the State and local levels by working with other government agencies, nonprofit firms, employers, technology groups, and others;

        (4) nbsp; Suggest that local service deliverers discuss information technology employment opportunities with customers;

        (5)  Provide customers with information on the employment opportunities (through America's Job Bank) and with the information the Service Delivery Area has gathered on local training available; and

        (6)  Identify vendors who can provide COBOL language or other appropriate training at the local level.

    3. Implement plans and strategies.

        (1)  Create an awareness throughout the workforce development system of the Year 2000 problems;

        (2)  Coordinate access to information and resources that will help the workforce development organizations to cope with the problem;

        (3)  Broker partnerships with entities already taking a proactive approach to the pending crisis, e.g., the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Small Business Administration;

        (4)  Customize tools, as necessary, to meet the specific needs of the local workforce development system;

        (5)  Incorporate information on the Year 2000 into your web sites so it is available for conference presentations and training;

        (6)  Develop and provide easy access to promising practices on dealing with both internal system problems and external training problems;

        (7)  Provide technical assistance and information to local areas so they can better equip themselves to address Year 2000 and beyond opportunities;

        (8)  Establish a speaker's bureau to encourage awareness about the Year 2000 and beyond problems; and

        (9)  Arrange for on-the-job or classroom training for individuals who are interested in information technology based on identified local community needs.

    4. Review and Continue to Improve.

        (1) Assess the success obtained and how the process employed could be improved to achieve better results;

        (2) Adjust strategies and begin the process of working with the employers, partners and others over again;

        (3) Follow up with employers once an individual obtains a job to determine if training proved successful; and

        (4) Document and share successful efforts and processes which have resulted in getting ETA program-funded customers into information technology jobs.

  5. Action Required. States are encouraged to identify opportunities for meeting the needs of employers consistent with the needs of our other customers.

  6. Inquiries. For further information, contact your Regional Office.

  7. Attachment. Year 2000 Internet Resources