The tech sector is the fastest growing sector of the economy in NYC and around the US and around the world. The tech sector offers high paying jobs and a growing number of them.
But, as we all know, the tech sector lacks the gender and racial diversity that would allow everyone to benefit from this growing sector of the economy. Most of the studies that have looked at the lack of diversity point to a skills gap standing in the way.
So last year Tech:NYC (where I am co-chair) and a few large employers (Google, Verizon, Bloomberg LP) and the Robin Hood Learning and Technology Fund commissioned a study of the skills training programs in NYC to see where there are gaps and what must be done to close them so that tech jobs are available to everyone in NYC who wants one.
What the report reveals is that NYC has a rich and expanding ecosystem of tech skills training opportunities, including K-12 and adult education. But, as we all know, the quality is uneven and so are the outcomes.
The report makes twelve recommendations which are detailed here. They are:
1. Make a significant new public investment in expanding and improving New York City’s tech education and training ecosystem.
2. Set clear and ambitious goals to greatly expand the pipeline of New Yorkers into technology careers.
3. Prioritize long-term investments in K–12 computing education.
4. Scale up tech training with a focus on programs that develop in-depth, career-ready skills.
5. Build the pipeline of educators and facilitators serving both K–12 and career readiness efforts.
6. Close the geographic gaps in tech education and skills-building programs.
7. New York City’s tech sector should play a larger role in developing, recruiting, and retaining diverse talent.
8. Increase access to tech apprenticeships and paid STEM internships through industry partnerships, CS4All, and the city’s current Summer Youth Employment Program.
9. Expand efforts to market STEM programs to underrepresented students and their families.
10. Develop and fund links from the numerous computer literacy and basic digital skills-building programs to the in-depth programs that can lead to employment.
11. Expand the number of bridge programs to provide crucial new on-ramps to further tech education and training for New Yorkers with fundamental skills needs.
12. Develop major new supports for the non-tuition costs of adult workforce training.
I participated on the advisory board of this study and support all of these recommendations. Elected officials and policy makers in NYC (and really everywhere) should read and heed these recommendations.
The tech sector faces many headwinds in society right now for a host of reasons. Not all of them can be solved by an employee base that mirrors the planet. But many of them can be and we need to work to get there.
I want to thank the Center For An Urban Future, Tech:NYC, Robin Hood Learning and Technology Fund, Google, Verizon, and Bloomberg LP for giving us a roadmap on how to get there.