(Boise, Idaho) - The Idaho bipartisan STEM Caucus met on February 27th, hosted by Rep. Gayanne DeMorDaunt—District 14,
for a special presentation by Paris Cole, CEO of Truckstop.com. The presentation aimed to illustrate the need for a greater focus on computer literacy in K-12 Education. Cole, an Idaho native from Caldwell, explained the benefits of being computer literate in one’s career. He also described the difficulties he’s both personally had and observed when employers are trying to hire those who are not computer literate.
Mr. Cole, who is responsible for all facets of Truckstop.com including leading the executive and management teams, and multiple corporate functions, explained that while still in grade school, his parents allowed him to attend a summer computer science program in which he was able to develop the basics of computing. He attributes a substantial portion of his career success to this base knowledge he gained while in his youth.
Truckstop.com, a thriving technology-based company that has produced an innovative way to track and interact with the trucking industry, was founded locally in New Plymouth, ID in the basement of its founder—Scott Moscrip. The company has had 24 years (since 1996) of growing revenues and they are actually having an exponential growth as of late. This rapid growth and revenue caught the attention of Iconiq Capital, a San Francisco-based privately held financial advisory and investment firm, who acquired a major share of Truckstop.com in what possibly could be the largest venture capital investment in Idaho.
With this in mind, Truckstop.com anticipates adding over 130 jobs throughout Idaho and Illinois. However, the big issue that Mr. Cole is facing, as an Idaho native that is dedicated to improving Idaho’s economy and educational system, is that it is difficult to find the computing talent in Idaho to hire. Mr.Cole stated, ”It’s hard to find talent in Idaho because [computer literacy] isn’t introduced in education at an early stage here.”
Mr. Cole then went on to explain that of the 182 technology-based positions at Truckstop.com, only 80 are occupied by Idahoans even though the company remains to be headquartered in New Plymouth. “Kids are already using computing all the time. Every time you navigate the internet, or install different equipment or software, you use some form of computing skills. All we need now, is to cultivate it to give these kids the tools necessary.
According to a salary analysis done at Truckstop.com, those who hold tech-related positions earn 83.3% more of an annual income on average. Mr. Cole explained the reason for this, “Tech related positions earn a premium to their peers not only due to scarcity, but also due to the value created”, and went to describe the necessity of using computing skill in non-tech related positions as well.
“We can educate our kids and get them to stay in Idaho with steady jobs”, said Mr. Cole when questioned about the need for computer science programs in K-12. Currently the Idaho Technology Council (ITC), working alongside St. Luke’s and the Middleton School District, is creating a six week computer science “boot camp” that will be providing the basic knowledge for computing skills. “There are approximately 3,000 math teachers throughout the state, and roughly on about 34 have the certifications to teach computer science.” explained Jay Larsen, CEO/Founder of the ITC.