Hi tech workers in the US will now be able to start celebrating National Techies Day on 5 October, which has been established to encourage new talent to join the industry in an attempt to stem the skills shortage.
A Web site has also been set up at www.techiesday.org to provide educators, organisations and vendors in high tech industries with advice on how they could usefully celebrate the occasion. And while the concept may initially seem like a joke to many observers, the people behind the idea are taking it seriously.
Marc Andreessen, America Online's chief technology officer, who is honorary chairman of the event, said: "As the growth of the Internet continues to fuel the importance of technology in everyone's lives, the increasing shortage of trained technology professionals presents a major challenge to both the industry and American business in general."
"National Techies Day is a winning solution for both kids and the industry, exposing kids to rewarding career opportunities, while helping us ensure the necessary talent will be there to keep the medium growing in future years," he claimed.
Doug Berg, who is coordinating the Web site, added: "We think part of the reason there's such a shortage of technology professionals may be that their contributions are too often overlooked. There's a horrible misconception that this is a geeky career. People think everyone in it are all geeks and nerds, and kids don't think it's a fun career. But it's the funnest, most riveting career."
And the project has received endorsements from some influential people.
Al Gore, the US Vice President, wrote in a letter, which was read out at the National Education Computing Conference: "I want to commend all of the information technology professionals who are encouraging technology and science learning in schools. I applaud your efforts to bring attention to the need for technology education through the establishment of Techies Day."
The Web site suggests that schools might take full advantage of the day by hosting a Technology Open House to show parents the advances they have made in technology education and by contacting local companies to invite technology professionals to visit classes.
Organisations could enclose "Happy National Techies Day" notices in staff paychecks, host a Techies Night Out at a local watering hole, or send an egreeting of thanks to their favourite techies in recognition of their contribution.
IT vendors could also enter groups of no more than six workers that have worked together during 1999 into the "Techie Team of the Year" competition. The deadline for online entry is 15 September and the winning team will be announced by a panel of judges on 5 October.
Winning criteria include the scope and nature of the technology challenge of a given project, creative team work, innovation and project results.
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