Hollis Tabbed to Information Technology Task Force

February 12, 2021
Contact: Brock Turnipseed

A Mississippi State education and curriculum leader is being named to a statewide task force aimed at growing Mississippi’s information technology workforce.

Shelly Hollis, assistant director of cyber education for the university’s Research and Curriculum Unit, recently was selected to serve on the information technology task force created by C Spire and the Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB). C Spire Chief Technology Officer Carla Lewis and SWIB Chairman Patrick Sullivan tapped Hollis, who also leads MSU’s Center for Cyber Education.

“Shelly is passionate about computer science education, and the RCU is fortunate to have someone with her vision and passion guiding the Center for Cyber Education,” RCU Director Betsey Smith said. “She is dedicated to expanding the computer science courses and trainings available in our state, and it is a testament to her leadership that great partners like C Spire and SWIB have asked her to serve on this very important task force.”

The task force includes other leaders from state education, industry, workforce development and Mississippi Coding Academies.

“Being asked to serve on this committee is a great honor and a very exciting prospect. To have K-12 education acknowledged as an important and valued part of the workforce pipeline is a huge step toward closing the gap between training IT professionals and the enormous number of open jobs in our state and country,” Hollis said. 

“It isn’t surprising that K-12 education would be included with C Spire leading the committee. It is one of the biggest proponents of K-12 computer science education in our state. From an industry perspective, C Spire is leading the charge in our state to close the gap,” she added.

The group’s first project is to collect data from stakeholders in the IT workforce and education communities on what training opportunities are currently available and which resources are needed to expand these opportunities. This data will be used in creating a centralized hub that offers Mississippi residents the skills necessary to be competitive in the state’s high-paying, high-demand IT workforce.

Hollis, who joined the RCU in 2014, said that IT workforce development begins with K-12 computer science education. She sees the task force as an opportunity to provide insight into the K-12 computer science training available in Mississippi and further showcase the successes of the Computer Science for Mississippi initiative, a collaboration between the Mississippi Department of Education and the RCU aimed at growing K-12 computer science instruction in the state.

“Many industry and workforce leaders are not aware of our CS4MS initiative and are usually pleasantly surprised at how much we are doing and have accomplished,” Hollis said. “I can learn from the group how we need to update existing programs, build new programs and understand what certifications and specialized training might be needed.”

Because of the statewide initiative, computer science courses have been implemented in 132 school districts, more than 1,600 teachers have been trained to teach the curricula, more than 65,000 Mississippi students have now taken a computer science course, K-12 standards and endorsements are in place for schools and teachers, and computer science now counts as a graduation credit.

About the RCU
Founded in 1965, the RCU contributes to MSU’s mission as a land-grant institution to better the lives of Mississippians with a focus on improving education. In particular, the RCU benefits K-12 and higher education by developing curricula and assessments, providing training and learning opportunities for educators, researching and evaluating programs, supporting and promoting career and technical education, and leading education innovations. For more information about the RCU, visit rcu.msstate.edu or follow the organization on Facebook (facebook.com/rcumsu), Twitter (twitter.com/rcumsu) and Instagram (instagram.com/rcumsu).