After 35 years of catering to channel companies and tech newcomers, CompTIA is launching a new trade group aimed at IT professionals. The move comes on the heels of CompTIA’s acquisition of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), a 65-year-old trade association that provides training, education and advocacy for career tech pros.

For perspective on the acquisition, The VAR Guy reached out to CompTIA Executive Vice President of Industry Relations, Nancy Hammervik. Hammervik says the move is a natural progression for the Chicago-based trade association, which has positioned itself at the forefront of IT career development.

“This is pretty natural coming from us. For the past couple of years we have done more work, launched initiatives and invested in more research around building up the IT workforce,” says Hammervik. She believes there are as many as 1 million unfilled jobs in IT due to a shortage of exacting skills. This is exacerbated by rapidly evolving innovation and waning enthusiasm among young people to join the IT workforce.

To combat this problem, CompTIA hopes to build a world-class trade association for professionals who turned to the Chicago-based trade association for basic tech training and certification in the early part of their careers and who could now use some ongoing education or may be in a position to recruit new workers.

Nancy Hammervik, CompTIA

Why CompTIA? While often thought of as a “channel” trade association, Hammervik says CompTIA is much more today. Thanks to various efforts including the launch of its “Open Access” model, CompTIA has attracted more than 100,000 new registered users recently, 60 percent of whom work outside the channel. They join the 1.2 million “alumni” of various CompTIA training and certification programs in the U.S., plus the more than 200,000 people CompTIA certifies annually.

“CompTIA has done a lot of work in the last few years outside of the channel. Through our foundation, through our advocacy, and via some corporate initiatives that we have had. [What is more] the walls around the legacy channel are kind of coming down. There are new channels and parallel channels and collaborative strategies between direct and indirect sales, etc. I think it’s important for us as an organization to grow and expand [our horizons] as the channel and IT pro workforces evolve,” says Hammervik.

To that end, she says CompTIA will become more of a holistic type of association in the IT industry with a broader perspective and a deeper engagement model. As for buying the AITP, which has served technology professionals since the Truman administration, Hammervik says the group complements CompTIA’s core mission.

The AITP is run by 400 volunteers who oversee not just the national body, but also chapters around the country. This includes more than 50 student chapters located at various learning institutions around the U.S. The newly reconstituted trade association will officially be known as CompTIA’s Association of IT Professionals. Come spring, CompTIA will unveil new benefits for individual members, including an enhanced website.

To entice existing members to stay engaged with the association, CompTIA will offer resume building tools, salary data and other perks to help professionals continue and grow in their careers—all for the low price of just $99 annually.