07 May Apprenticeships could solve tech’s diversity problem
In case you missed it, Howard University and Google recently announced that they were partnering to attract more African American students to study computer science, targeting a segment of the tech population that is notoriously underrepresented (along with women).
The Google/Howard partnership is a small step (albeit an important one) with a specific goal — to bring more people of color into the tech workforce. The industry is truly missing out on a lot of great talent. However, the fact is that only by changing the way we recruit, inspire, and educate (train) students from the outdated “lecture and regurgitate” mode to a more progressive model, where students learn practical skills and improve their problem solving and collaboration skills via hands-on projects, can we hope to begin filling all the jobs now and in the future.
Google’s step follows a series of moves by corporations, wealthy individuals, and entrepreneurs to attract more talent to the tech industry. Paul Allen donated$40 million to the University of Washington’s computer science department, while Boeing awarded $6 million in grants to reinforce STEM education in Washington. Last year, SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff announced that SalesForce donated $8.5 million to San Francisco Unified School District and $2.5 million to Oakland Unified School District to hire STEM teachers, as well as buying the computer systems they need.
Businesses need more skilled STEM workers. There are a quarter-million job openings for software developers in the U.S. alone and half a million unfilled jobs that require tech skills — and the forecast predicts 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018.