A Year of Roundtables: Helping Diverse Cultures Succeed in the Future Tech Force

Omoanatse McCarther Headshot and text

A Year of Roundtables: Helping Diverse Cultures Succeed in the Future Tech Force

Written by Omoanatse McCarther

In the dynamic landscape of technology, integrating DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives have emerged as a pivotal factor for fostering innovation and advancement. Throughout 2023, Diverse by Design hosted a series of thought-provoking roundtable discussions as part of our “Futures Month” initiatives. These sessions were meticulously designed to dissect success narratives and furnish pragmatic insights tailored for technology leaders. The overarching objective was to empower leaders to seamlessly embed diverse cohorts into their DEI frameworks, thereby fostering a more inclusive trajectory for the future.

These virtual roundtables transcended mere anecdotal accounts, offering actionable guidance. Each session distilled pivotal takeaways, practical strategies, and implementable tips. The intention was to create a roadmap, deciphering invaluable insights that can equip technology leaders to cultivate teams that are more diverse, inclusive, and primed to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.

Black Futures Month Roundtable

Our inaugural roundtable featured esteemed panelists, including Athenia Figgs from EY, Damien Howard from Per Scholas, and Oche Idoko from Barclays. The focus of this dialogue centered on the imperative of cultivating mentorship programs for Black technologists. Emphasizing the reciprocal benefits inherent in participating as both mentors and mentees, the discussion underscored how such engagements foster meaningful connections and facilitate pivotal opportunities crucial for career advancement. Access to these programs was underscored as a transformative gateway for Black individuals navigating the tech landscape. All while acknowledging and celebrating Black Futures Month, highlighting the extraordinary achievements of black technologists.

Women’s Futures Month Roundtable

We celebrated the contributions of women in tech during our Women’s Futures Month roundtable, highlighting Dr. Marian Croak’s groundbreaking work while echoing the revelation that only 15% of engineering jobs are held by women, underscoring the imperative for change. In our Women’s Futures Month Roundtable, we celebrated the achievements of women in the tech industry while casting a forward-looking gaze. Despite women comprising a mere 19% of the tech workforce, the conversation pivoted towards fostering greater opportunities not only for women but also for other underrepresented demographics in the tech domain. Central to the discourse was the imperative of dismantling barriers obstructing women’s progression into tech roles and leadership positions. The emphasis was not solely on recognizing challenges but on catalyzing actionable measures to engender a more open and inclusive tech ecosystem conducive to the flourishing of women professionals. A notable highlight was the commendable increase in women technologists from 33% to 41% in 2022, signaling promising strides forward.

Pride Futures Month Roundtable

During our Pride Month roundtable, the spotlight illuminated avenues for enhancing opportunities for diverse technologists through collaborative efforts with employers and the establishment of supportive environments tailored for underrepresented groups. The dialogue shed light on strategies employed by Per Scholas and other entities to address the underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ individuals in recent diversity initiatives within the tech sector. Key considerations encompassed the use of inclusive language, avoidance of assumptions pertaining to gender identity or sexual orientation, and the provision of dedicated resources for employee groups. These initiatives are geared towards fostering connectivity and advocating for diversity while urging companies to champion LGBTQ+ inclusion in the tech workforce actively.

Hispanic Futures Month Roundtable

We concluded our series for 2023 with a celebration of Hispanic and Latinx voices in the tech community. The remarkable contributions of leaders like Elizabeth Agosto, Laura Gomez, and Karla Monterroso underscored the pivotal role Hispanics play in building the global tech landscape. With Hispanics constituting only approximately 8% of the tech workforce (as per a Pew Research Center report), our speakers imparted invaluable insights on empowering and uplifting Hispanics in the tech realm. The discussion underscored the significance of bilingual resources wherever feasible and underscored the imperative of acknowledging alternative educational pathways, recognizing that not all individuals have equitable access to traditional four-year college education. These insights underscored a commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for Hispanics, ensuring equitable opportunities for success irrespective of background. 

Looking Ahead in 2024

The preceding year’s roundtables served as a poignant reminder of the transformative potential of diversity within the tech industry. They underscored the necessity of embracing diverse perspectives and backgrounds as catalysts for innovation and progress. Let us not overlook the fact that diversity is not merely a moral imperative but also a potent driver of business success.

As we express gratitude for your unwavering support throughout 2023, we extend an invitation to join us in shaping a more diverse and inclusive future in technology. Let’s carry the momentum of this year into the next, united in our commitment to fostering change. Join us on February 29 for “Diverse by Design Presents Securing the Future: Embracing Diversity in Cybersecurity,” where we will delve into how diversity in action yields tangible outcomes, particularly within the cybersecurity domain. Register now to be part of this transformative dialogue.

House Committee Brings Long-Awaited Workforce Changes Into 2024

House Committee Brings Long-Awaited Workforce Changes Into 2024

ICYMI: Just before the new year, some remarkable action happened in Congress. Two bipartisan bills succeeded past the House Committee on Education & the Workforce, both aimed at increasing opportunities for Americans to get the skills employers need for our economies to thrive. We are excited about the movement of these two bills because it is a step in the right direction for America’s workforce—but there is still more work to be done.

The House Education & Workforce Committee passed A Stronger Workforce for America Act (H.R. 6655), which amends and reauthorizes the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the nation’s cornerstone legislation that drives billions of federal funds into our national workforce development system. We’re thrilled to see this progress and offer our full support to Congress in ensuring that America’s workforce system sees a long-overdue modernization. 

Per Scholas provides tuition-free, full-time training that opens a door for Americans who are committed to launching a career in technology to gain the skills and networks they need to succeed. For 28 years, Per Scholas has consistently helped adults increase their incomes 3x, and returns $8 in economic benefits for every $1 spent on training. 

While our learners contribute their time, energy, and their tremendous skills, our donors and employers cover the costs associated with training because we believe that economic mobility shouldn’t be packaged with financial debt. 

With our proven model, Per Scholas has been able to increase our scale of 2000 adult learners per year in 2020 by 150%—that means we’ll reach more than 5,000 immersive learners next year, plus 2,000 alumni committing to upskilling. But to keep this momentum in our training, we need our government to invest federal dollars in the right places. 

H.R. 6655 will make it easier for the current workforce system to support cohort-based, demand-driven models like Per Scholas. The newest provisions create stronger alignment for workers, training providers, and employers. In fact, several changes in the bill are a direct result of the advocacy Per Scholas and peer organizations have been undertaking over the last few years, as highlighted in our organization’s letter of support to the Committee.

A Closer Look at H.R. 6655

Thanks to these collective efforts, the bill would: 

  • Prioritize WIOA spending (50%) on skills development for adult participants and create better clarity around performance measures, including program completion and employment outcomes; 
  • Streamline the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) by putting a greater emphasis in labor market outcomes, and reduce barriers for multi-state providers; 
  • Encourage innovative sector partnerships by allowing states to invest in Critical Industry Skills initiatives, which allocates resources (10%) for training and employment services in high-needs industries; 
  • Allows states to have more flexibility in using their WIOA funds, including greater opportunities for pay-for-performance contracting, which yield long-term equitable outcomes for communities;
  • Enhance data linkages through the Workforce Data Quality Initiative and investments into workforce data infrastructure.

Also this past December, the House Education & Workforce Committee passed the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (H.R. 6585), which allows students and workers to upskill in high-demand industries by using federal Pell Grants to enroll in high-quality, short-term workforce programs. Per Scholas joined several peer organizations this year in promoting Pell expansion; in fact, the bill incorporates several recommendations that America Forward Coalition members shared in a public letter to Congressional leaders. 

One of our major priorities that made it into the bill was no restriction on fully online/distance programs (with just a few exceptions), plus emphasizing strong performance measures. These provisions help show a shift that student outcomes are more important than the program delivery method, and that remote learning options create accessibility. 

Per Scholas has as many instructional hours in our remote courses as our in-person and hybrid models, and it’s created access for many learners to launch their careers in tech. When Ariana Reed graduated from Per Scholas’ remote IT Support course last year, she felt that this was a big factor in helping her stay committed to completing the course. “It is a structured learning setting, even though it was online,” she said. “You get the experience of being in contact with other learners. You get the training – we did a lot of labs that gave us hands-on training. We had lots of resources under Per Scholas, even with the remote setting.” After graduating, Ariana started working as an IT Support Specialist at DaVita Kidney Care, a position that allows her to blend her interests in tech and healthcare.

H.R. 6585 links quality workforce programs to Pell funding, but it’s limited to accredited colleges and universities. Unfortunately, this excludes non-institutional providers like Per Scholas. This approach stifles growth among organizations and models that have most clearly demonstrated a positive impact on their participants’ economic mobility outcomes. 

We will continue to engage with Congressional leaders to advocate for strengthening Pell and other reforms. As both of these bills progress in the House, Per Scholas is excited to join many other workforce stakeholders in building on this progress and engaging our Senators this year. 

Per Scholas Cyber Apprenticeships: Nationally Needed, Locally Ready to Close Talent Gaps

Per Scholas Cyber Apprenticeships:

 Nationally Needed, Locally Ready to Close Talent Gaps

 

On the last day of July, the White House and the Office of the National Cyber Director announced a National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES) unique in vision and approach at a time where there are over 755,000 Cybersecurity jobs open in the United States. At Per Scholas, we applaud the administration in accelerating its focus on the cyber workforce across sectors, along with the organizations who have made commitments to support this effort – ranging from the National Security Agency (NSA) to Microsoft to MassBay Community College. We too have made a significant commitment to support and fuel our nation’s need for skilled cyber technologists. 

Solving for the Cyber Skills Shortage: Per Scholas Registered Apprenticeships Align with White House Workforce and Education Strategy

NCWES lays critical groundwork to equip every American with foundational cybersecurity skills, transform cyber education in the U.S, and expand and enhance the national cyber workforce. It emphasizes competency-based cyber education, making this education more affordable and accessible, promoting skills-based hiring, and attracting and hiring a more qualified and diverse cyber workforce. Per Scholas shares these commitments, and has been hard at work tailoring an innovative solution to provide more employers with diverse cyber talent, while connecting workers that have been historically underrepresented in the industry to viable cyber career paths: Cybersecurity Support Technician Registered Apprenticeships.

Playing to Our Strengths: Per Scholas Cyber Capabilities, Commitments, and Cost Savings

For more than 25 years, Per Scholas thrives in understanding talent market needs and designing aligned solutions. We are perhaps most known across our 22 (and counting!) U.S. campuses for our pre-employment training programs, but these are not our only available skills training opportunities! We are currently registered with the Department of Labor as a National Program Sponsor for Cybersecurity apprenticeships, and in the process of confirming our 2024 employer partnerships.

Why should an employer consider Per Scholas Cybersecurity apprenticeships? 

Our Cyber roots run deep. Per Scholas has placed its graduates with over 850 companies and organizations, and since 2016 we have prepared over 2,000 diverse adults for entry- and mid-level Cyber roles. Through our Cybersecurity training, our apprentices obtain CompTIA CYSA+, Splunk, and Cisco certifications. Barclays – one of our first Cybersecurity employer partners – recognized the potential early on, and worked with us to establish our first Cyber curriculum tailored toward entry-level individuals aspiring to join the Cybersecurity field. Within this inaugural partnership, over 40 Per Scholas grads were hired into Barclays as apprentices, interns, or full-time hires; 30% of the graduating training class identified as women, and 13% as veterans. Rita McCaffrey, a Barclays Program Manager, highlighted that “engaging women, underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, and people with disabilities brings essential perspectives to problem solving” and that “in order for us to meet the emerging workforce skills gap, we must – all businesses must – work to foster innovation through diverse perspectives and experiences.” (1)

We are committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in tech. Per Scholas graduates are 85% people of color and over 40% women. Over ⅓ of these individuals are adults under 30 early on in their careers, and ⅔ do not have a 4 year degree. When we say that we are expanding the Cyber talent pool, we mean it. Nationwide is one company that can attest to our ability to train and place underrepresented talent in apprenticeship roles, and to how much these individuals succeed when given the opportunity. In the field of software engineering – another domain with talent and diversity gaps – Nationwide has taken on 49 Per Scholas apprentices; thus far, they have hired over 80% of them on full-time based on how well apprentices learned and performed on the job and position openings within Nationwide’s teams.

The ROI on apprenticeships is there. For every $1 invested in apprenticeship, organizations realize an average return of $1.47. (2)  Through our yearlong Registered Apprenticeship Program, Cyber apprentices are paid on a progressive wage scale; this is a cost effective way to cultivate talent, even before potential tax credits and subsidies accessible at the state and federal levels. When Per Scholas builds an apprenticeship partnership, one of the first things we do together is review the employer’s job description(s) and workplace needs with our Cyber work plan comprised of over 80 competencies and 2000+ hours of on-the-job experience; together, we help employers come out with talent trained in their specific technical needs and experienced in their company’s norms and culture.

Seeking Employer Partnerships: Let’s Tackle this Challenge Together

We are actively working to close Cyber talent gaps, while generating sustainable career pathways in the Cyber field. Sharing the comprehensive vision of the NCWES, we aim to transform Cyber skill acquisition, career development, and companies’ abilities to protect their assets in an increasingly complex digital environment. If this is something that excites you – let’s work together! We are taking on a limited number of apprenticeship partners this fall, and look forward to seeing the transformative impact apprenticeship can have within your organization. Contact us at [email protected] to begin the conversation.

 

(1) https://perscholas.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/barclays_per_scholas_defending_the_digital_frontier-2.pdf

(2) https://nationalapprenticeship.org/roi

Tearing the Paper Ceiling: Let Skills Shine

Jasmine Miller headshot

Tearing the Paper Ceiling: Let Skills Shine

Skills are powerful. In its purest form, a skill is the ability to do something well. Let’s take my son’s favorite sport into consideration: soccer. Some skills are natural, like body-balance and coordination. Others are learned, improved, and refined over time, like dribbling, trapping, and teamwork. His favorite player, Sadio Mane of Senegal, has an innate ability, but has also dedicated his focus to develop and perfect his skills over time. 

For too long, skills have been overlooked and undervalued in the American hiring process, relying on proxies for preparedness in place of proof of preparedness. That’s why I’m so proud of our friends at Opportunity@Work for their unwavering commitment to rewire the labor market so that everyone can contribute their skills, talent, and energy in pursuit of a better life, an equitable America, and a stronger economy for all. 

Tearing the Paper Ceiling and Unlocking Potential for STARs

O@W is galvanizing our nation to Tear the Paper Ceiling and recognize the untapped potential of the 70+ million American workers who are STARs – Skilled Through Alternative Routes. STARs make up half of the U.S. workforce and for decades, have been excluded from good, high-wage jobs. STARs grow skills and knowledge through community college, proven workforce training programs like Per Scholas, bootcamps, certificate programs, military service, on-the-job learning, and more.

According to a recent survey by Indeed, two thirds of job seekers across the nation believe they were overlooked for a job they were qualified for because they did not have the degree listed in the job description. We’re stifling potential instead of unlocking it, creating even greater opportunity gaps. 

Because Per Scholas is a tech and essential skills trainer, let’s examine the facts facing our nation’s technology workforce. The most recent jobs report reveals there were 234,000 tech job openings in April, far outnumbering the number of applicants. I’d surmise that many STARs didn’t even apply, seeing a college degree as a minimum requirement to put forth their credentials. It’s disheartening. 

As Chief Training Officer at Per Scholas, it’s our learners and alumni who fuel my passion. More than half of our learners are STARs, and the skills they’ve acquired during our 12 to 15 week tuition-free training stand on the shoulders of the skills they already possess: perseverance, time management, tenacity, passion, collaboration, problem-solving and beyond. Plus, they earn a variety of CompTIA certifications – industry recognized credentials that again, prove their mastery of the skills they’ve learned in their training.

Learners like Brittany, who knew a career in tech was for her, and what would provide the economic freedom for her family. Brittany brought resourcefulness, resilience and an inquisitive attitude to her IT Support training every day. She worked the overnight shift, cared for her young daughter, and always arrived to training early, ready to shine.

Hearing stories and experiences like Brittany’s – and thousands of Per Scholas STARs – motivates me in my work, advocating for skills-based hiring.

Solutions for Skills Based Hiring

A year ago, Maryland passed a bill that eliminated degree requirements from thousands of state job postings, far increasing the application pool and ultimately creating more equity. And valuing people for the skills they bring to the table, not the piece of paper. I’m hopeful many more leaders in the public sector will follow suit. I’m encouraged that many private sector companies, from Intel to Amazon and Dell to Google are removing 4-year degrees as a mandatory requirement for a variety of technical roles. This powerful action unlocks potential and creates pathways to a strong middle class.

Employers are the key change agents here, and they win by gaining a more productive and thriving workforce if they’re brave enough to activate skills based hiring. I think Henry Ford said it best: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” If we continue to exclude talent from the onset, we’ll continue to have hundreds of thousands of open tech jobs each month. 

In 12 to 15 weeks, Per Scholas learners graduate from our rigorous, tuition-free tech skills training in a variety of the most in-demand disciplines our tech sector needs: Java Development, Cybersecurity, Software Engineering, IT Support, Salesforce Administration, and more.

It’s the essential skills they refine, like professionalism, perseverance, creative problem solving, and the hard skills they learn like pen testing and networking protocols that make Per Scholas STARs tip-top applicants. Our graduates are ready to make a difference day one on the job. 

Let their proven skills training with Per Scholas serve as the proof of preparedness. Let STARs shine.

 

Tech Jobs Remain Hot, but Diversity Gaps Remain Prevalent

Tech Jobs Remain Hot, but Diversity Gaps Remain Prevalent

A Per Scholas Perspectives Piece from Damien Howard

Despite layoffs in the first quarter of 2023, the tech job market remains hot! According to the April jobs report, there are more than 316,000 open tech roles nationwide. Yet, companies continue to struggle to find the skilled talent to fill these roles. And in my view, many companies are unfortunately still overlooking valuable and performance driven diverse technologists to fill these roles.

Nationwide, Black people only make up 8 percent of the technology workforce, and that percentage is even lower – 3 percent – when you look at Black technologists in the C-Suite. The percentage of women in technology jobs nationwide continues to hover around 25 percent, and again, representation among women of color is at a devastatingly low 4 percent.

My friend Franklin Reed, Executive Director of Global Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at TEKsystems, and I are always innovating solutions on this topic, to achieve our shared goal of a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse technology workforce.

Here are our three major takeaways this April, Celebrate Diversity Month, from TEKsystems’ inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in IT Report that can help close diversity gaps.

First, IT decision makers believe in the power of diversity. 86 percent of IT decision makers believe DEI programs have made their culture more inclusive, which aids business’s overall ROI and morale. Plus, 74 percent of IT decision makers agreed that DEI has increased their team’s productivity.

“Cultivating a diverse culture starts with a genuine belief that diversity makes us better, followed by intentional recruiting efforts that reinforce this belief,” says Franklin. In this article, Franklin and his colleague discuss a programmable approach to inclusive and equitable recruiting.

Next, there’s tremendous opportunity to implement advanced or mature DEI programs. Less than half (46 percent) of organizations reported having advanced or mature DEI programs, which translates into a missed opportunity for innovation and increased profit for the vast majority. Per Scholas and TEKsystems are leaders in DEI, and can help support your company in developing and implementing powerful talent solutions.

“There is no quick fix to attracting, recruiting, and retaining diverse candidates. Change comes from deep within an organization, and it takes time. It also takes an honest evaluation of where your company currently is with its DEI practices and where the stakeholders want it to be,” Franklin says.

Like Franklin, I often counsel leaders that are looking for different ways to drive revenue that DEI can’t be an initiative or a scattershot effort, but instead, embedded into the DNA of your company, with business metrics and resources to support sustainable success.

Finally, much more needs to be done to support women technologists. There’s a 25 percentage plus point gap between male and female technologists when they indicate their sense of belonging at work, and an even larger gap between men and women related to their perceptions of growth opportunities.

Beyond racial and gender diversity, there are so many other diversity dimensions we must consider and take into account, from neurodiversity to educational attainment, family composition, and more.

So, what’s your take? What are ways your company is closing the diversity gap among your technology workforce? Franklin and I would love to hear from you. Drop a comment below!

The Future is Diverse: How Creating Diverse Teams Will Change the Face of Tech and Promote Profitability

The Future is Diverse: How Creating Diverse Teams Will Change the Face of Tech and Promote Profitability

The past two months have presented multiple moments of reflection and consideration as I have personally thought about Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March. With Per Scholas, I have had the opportunity to commemorate these important moments through our Black Futures Month and Women’s Futures Month initiatives, as we bring light to the stark disparities facing Black and women technologists across the sector. I am able to stand on the shoulders of Black women who paved the way for women like me, look back at their accomplishments, and consider what the future holds for both diversity groups with excitement coupled with the understanding that there is still so much to be done.  

According to the latest research from Boston Consulting Group, diversity is a key driver of innovation, finding that diverse teams produce a minimum of 19% more revenue. However women in the technology sector continue to hover around 28% of workers nationwide, and Black talent makes up only 8% of the technology workforce. Considering these dire statistics, it’s safe to say that there’s room for improvement in diversifying the tech workforce. I recently hosted Per Scholas’ Black Futures Month and Women’s Futures Month Roundtables and learned so much from my guests. Below, you’ll find my four takeaways.

Black Technologists From Days Passed Remain Motivation for Black Futures

During Per Scholas’ Black Futures Month Roundtable in February, I was joined by panelists Athenia Figgs, Senior Technology Leader at EY; Damien Howard, Per Scholas Chief Enterprise Solutions Officer; and Oche Idoko, Director, Americas, of Cyber, Technology, Data, and Change Risk at Barclays, to celebrate the contributions of Black technologists past and current, as we do our part to create Black tech futures. Our panelists each acknowledged Black technologists they admire, which illustrated the many ways Black Futures are fueled by Black History. 

Additionally, as our panelists discussed the work of past Black technologists, we considered our own journeys working alongside the tech industry and how we could diversify the tech landscape for the future. Prior to joining Per Scholas, I found myself being very passionate in advocating for others. That is what led me on my journey to being a DEI practitioner, joining as Senior Director of Per Scholas Diverse by Design last summer. The power we hold to change both the perception and the reality for so many diverse technologists is humbling.

Per Scholas learners

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging are Driving ROI

In recent years, there has been a massive investment into diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and the research is clear. Diversity makes good business sense; so good that McKinsey and Company research revealed that companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above industry means. Considering such a high return on investment is incredible, and one that can be achieved when organizations embrace DEIB&C, diversify their workforce, and move forward from announcing diversity initiatives into driving action and results. 

One aspect of a company’s return on investment comes from the pillars that diverse teams are smarter and more innovative. A Harvard Business Review article lifts up recent studies that prove diverse teams are smarter, lead to improved group thinking, remain objective, and are more innovative, leading to more revenue-generating opportunities for companies big and small. Another perspective is how diversity gives businesses a competitive advantage. Companies with a diverse workforce can better connect to different customer groups, therefore increasing market share. It’s a key factor in achieving a competitive edge by bringing new perspectives and fresh ideas, increased market knowledge, improved team dynamics, talent acquisition and retention, and better brand reputation overall. Athenia Figgs mentioned, “Companies have tech goals that are linked to outcomes with revenue and efficiency. We showcase the experience of practitioners on teams, and because the team is diverse, results show that they are more stable and have solutions. People come up with interesting solutions because they are a diverse team.”  With new perspectives and remembering the history and contributions of past Black technologists, we can enhance Black Futures in tech.

Women Technologists are Diversifying the Tech Industry

This Women’s History Month, we brought to light the best practices, strategies, and solutions to create more Women tech futures. I hosted the Women’s Futures Month Roundtable with panelists Jamie Feldman, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Sales & Account Management at Per Scholas; Maria Medrano, Co-Founder & CEO, Inspirame; and Rashida Ricks, Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion, CGI Federal. Between all of us women and our involvement in leading the way to create a space for more women to be in tech, I am confident that we will continue to see the number of women in the tech landscape grow.

At Per Scholas, we’re in the business of unlocking potential and changing the face of tech. That’s why this Women’s History Month, we celebrated the contributions of women technologists from past to present for Women’s Futures Month. I’m proud to share that in 2022 alone, Per Scholas trained 1,545 women technologists for high-growth careers, creating strong women futures and contributing to their companies’ bottom lines and their local communities. Nationwide, more than 40 percent of our learners identified as women. But so much more needs to be done. 

A Sense of Community, Resources, and Organizational Support Will Take Us to the Next Level

One consistent theme of our Women’s Futures Month Roundtable was community. All of our panelists stressed the importance of “finding your tribe” as women and building a support system from leaders and mentors – both female and male. This was an important takeaway for me because it is important to provide support, understanding, and resources as a business for women to have a sense of belonging and feel important. When women feel empowered and supported, there is nothing we aren’t capable of doing. What made our Roundtable unique was that it didn’t just represent women; it represented minority women. By being part of the Roundtable, we were able to show that Black and Latina women have a place in technology as technologists.

One powerful recommendation I made from Jamie Feldman’s remarks was to join an ERG (employee resource group), and if there wasn’t one that fit what you were looking for, to create it yourself. This sense of community and empowerment is key for leaders in an organization to build so women will thrive at work. The ambition of women is unmatched, and as we encourage more women in the tech landscape to voice their ideas and challenge the status quo, there will be profitability and success for your business, which inspires me as a woman of color. 

The Future is Bright!

With the messaging from the leaders from Per Scholas’s Black and Women’s Futures Months Roundtables, I am hopeful for a diverse and inclusive future in tech. There is still work to be done to improve on statistics and DEIB&C initiatives at various organizations, but with the ideas our panelists mentioned and leaders like them working to make a difference in diversity, the future is bright. To see some of my favorite moments from the Roundtables, visit the Per Scholas YouTube page! We have more events like this planned to open the doors for more conversations centered around diversifying the tech landscape – stay tuned for our Hispanic Futures Month Roundtable this fall!

Recession Proofing Your Tech Talent Pipeline

Per Scholas Diverse by Design Perspectives

Recession Proofing Your Tech Talent Pipeline

As we reach the final day of the first month of 2023, there has been a lot to unpack with the state of the economy, the labor market, and the future of work. While it may seem like things aren’t looking up for America’s economy despite many recent layoffs, there are still more than 246,000 tech jobs expected to be available in 2023 and massive opportunity for return on talent  investments. 

Despite the fact that the majority of these layoffs are coming from tech companies, the need to fill tech jobs remains strong for all industries. Whether in finance, real estate, automotive, professional services, healthcare, or other industries, you will still find an abundance of tech roles available within those sectors. With thousands of technologists recently laid off, employers from different industries are eager to hire and train workers for their open IT roles.  

Layoffs are happening, but there are still jobs available. 

In recent news, Microsoft laid off 10,000 of their employees, joining Meta, Amazon, Google, Cisco, and other large tech companies announcing major layoffs, which begs the question of how companies can retain employees and maintain ROI throughout the year. However, with the tech industry, there are still hundreds of thousands of jobs available with fewer job seekers with the required experience and skills. With so many jobs anticipated in the tech industry, how can employers future-proof tech jobs? Another challenge that C-Suite decision makers are dealing with is having to be more tactical and focused around cost-effective talent acquisition strategies. 

Our best advice is to look inward at upskilling and reskilling your current workforce, and then build out a customized pipeline for new tech talent so you can narrow the scope and really dig deep with experienced talent development partners. 

Per Scholas learners

Fortunately, Per Scholas is able to do both!

There are many benefits to reskilling and upskilling your current workforce. When you upskill your talent, you are investing in your team, which boosts employee morale, increases production, and is more cost-effective than laying off and hiring new talent. Through Per Scholas’s tech training courses in IT Support, Cybersecurity, Software Engineering, and other customized training tracks, we are providing enterprise solutions to grow and diversify your talent pool. The key is to stop buying talent and start building it. 

The need for skilled tech talent remains despite a looming recession.

In addition to employee layoffs, we’ve heard more about an impending recession. This month, two out of three economists predicted a recession this year, alarming corporations and the country as a whole. As we look to our 2023 forecasting, it isn’t all doom and gloom. How can your organization survive a recession and prosper? Diversifying your tech workforce is one important way to start. There is lots of research underscoring diverse workforce improves companies’ bottom line because of the different backgrounds, the dynamic ideas that are developed and the sheer superior talent that exist in this talent pool. It is proven that there is enormous business benefit for companies that  invest in a sustainable, diverse talent pipeline that is skilled and has hands-on training. 

As I stressed earlier, while there may be a pending recession looming and many big-hitter tech companies are laying off employees, hundreds of thousands of tech roles still remain unfilled. The key to staying ahead is filling your talent pipeline with skilled technologists with hands-on training, in-demand skills, and diverse backgrounds. 

Per Scholas learners

Active DEI Programs future-proof the culture and productivity of companies.

When it comes to future-proofing your company, looking inward at your active DEI initiatives can ensure your success throughout a recession. TEKsystems’ recent DEI research showed that 86% of IT decision makers believe DEI programs have made their culture more inclusive, which aids business’s overall ROI and morale. Simply put, employees with a good outlook on the company they work for will do better work; and if the workforce is diverse, then there will be more productivity, greater ROI, and greater span of ideas for growth and development.

Additionally, 74% of IT decision makers agreed that DEI has increased their team’s productivity. The catch is putting ideas and programs into action in order to future-proof your business. Creating systemic changes throughout your organization will ensure happy, productive, and diverse team members that will help your overall bottom line. 

The future of the economy may be unknown or headed toward a recession, but that does not mean a downfall for your company. Now is the time to stop buying talent and start building it. Let Per Scholas help you focus on the development and upskilling of your current team so you can build the talent you need to succeed and put action into DEI programs to support your company’s bottom line and return on investment.

 

Forecasting a Cost-Effective, Diverse Tech Industry for 2023

Damien Howard Perspectives photo

Forecasting a Cost-Effective, Diverse Tech Industry for 2023

Another year is coming to a close with an IT industry that still hosts hundreds of thousands of job openings with little diversification, meaning there are hundreds of firms not realizing the increased revenue performance that accompanies a diverse workforce. I look to recent research from TEKsystems about diversity, equity, and inclusion to illustrate what the future of tech looks like across America and how it will create profit for businesses. 

To put it simply, the tech sector has an opportunity to be diverse and increase revenue performance, we just have to put commitments into action. Creating a work environment that is equitable and inclusive for everyone, while setting your firm up for deeper performance outcomes that you would not realize otherwise, is pertinent when hiring diverse talent. With Per Scholas’ industry outlook and TEKsystems’ DEI data, the hiring landscape in the tech industry can improve for the better.

Woman learner in training

What does the tech industry look like?

The tech industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country that, despite an impending recession and major layoffs, has continued to provide job openings for technologists. Such uncertainty has led to pressure on leadership to deliver results and prioritize the top projects, with a greater importance to deliver on vital IT initiatives like digital transformation and tech strategies. In a strong industry with hundreds of thousands of job openings throughout the country, the need for diversity and filling those jobs with skilled, diverse individuals will benefit overall business performance and productivity for high-performing firms and positively impacting workforce and economic equity. 

I think DEI efforts have made positive impacts on organizations, but there are still major diversity gaps among IT talent. TEKsystems’ report demonstrates a clear disconnect between perceptions and the reality of solutions meant to cultivate a diverse, inclusive culture. While many organizations have demonstrated their commitment to DEI initiatives and seem to understand the importance, they appear to be failing to make systematic changes that generate results. While 73% of IT decision-makers say DEI has increased (team) productivity, only 46% of organizations have advanced or mature DEI programs in place, meaning there is a missed opportunity for innovation and profit in the industry. 

We need to invest in dependable resources and sustainable tech talent pipelines.

Tackling systematic change in the IT industry involves purposeful, innovative approaches powered by partnerships across enterprises. We believe these approaches, however, are not independent from an organization’s business goals—they align and help to empower business. Studies have shown inclusive teams make better decisions, and diverse teams produce more revenue. In partnership with TEKsystems, we’re working to build tech talent pipelines to help accelerate business outcomes, and we’re increasing access to opportunity through rigorous technical training across the U.S., equipping thousands of immensely qualified and diverse technologists with the in-demand skills to succeed.

Per Scholas learner

By investing in tech talent pipelines that are diverse and purposeful with DEI work, the tech industry will lead with increased innovation and productivity. Diversity is good for business, individuals, and the economy, so why not put leaders’ words into action by hiring skilled, productive, and diverse technologists for the thousands of job openings in the tech industry? 

The future of technology shows opportunity for diversity — especially with women in tech.

The TEKsystems DEI research shows that there is tremendous opportunity for investment in the upcoming year for women in the technology sector. Here are some key details from the research that highlights stark differences between women and men in tech:

Woman in tech training course

  • 45% of women indicate DEI programs have positively impacted their career, as compared to 70% of men.
  • 55% of women feel they have growth opportunities at work, as compared to 89% of men.
  • 58% of women have a sense of belonging at work, as compared to 85% of men.
  • 4 out of 10 women don’t believe they receive fair compensation for their work, presenting an opportunity for organizations to improve their workplace experience. 

With disparaging results, companies need to focus on DEI programming that helps all team members and programs effectively change the culture to be more inclusive of women in tech. Per Scholas, in partnership with TEKsystems, aims to increase access and opportunity by training entry and mid-level IT professionals for high-growth careers. With the creation of Per Scholas’s Tech Women of Color cohort in Columbus, the Women in Software Engineering cohort in our National Capital Region campus, and our current year’s learners sitting at 40% women, we are paving the way for diversity in tech for women.

 

Our Boldest Experiment Yet: Satellite

Per Scholas Perspectives - Plinio Ayala

Our Boldest Experiment Yet: Satellite

New York City is awash with talent, attracting droves from around the globe. Yet, access to the vast array of opportunities within the city remains uneven – and even inaccessible – to all. One of the biggest barriers that exist in the nation’s largest city is commutable distances between boroughs. Entire communities within New York City remain cut off from prosperity geographically, culturally, and economically. The recent COVID-19 pandemic, the accompanying economic downturn, and the present rebound have made stark some of the persistent inequities in the city, prompting calls for action from City Hall, the business community, and others to ensure New York’s recovery is centered on equity and economic mobility. 

In perhaps our boldest experiment yet, Per Scholas has launched our Satellite Model where we embed our programming with a partner organization’s physical location and harness that entity’s connections with the local community, complementary services, and staff to expand access to high-quality tech training and careers. This hybrid approach to training offers remote instruction from Per Scholas’s Bronx or Brooklyn campus to learners in East New York, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. I am so proud that for the first time in our organizational history, we are training in all five boroughs. 

Learners enrolled at a Satellite location experience the same programming and are held to the same high standards as those enrolled at Per Scholas. Staff from Per Scholas and Satellite organizations work collaboratively to provide professional development, learner support, exposure to the tech industry, and career planning and job search assistance. 

Partnering for Impact

Through the generous support of our Founder’s Circle partner Barclays, we’ve developed a report assessing the Satellite Model’s structure, promise, and early learnings. The Satellite Model is designed to tap into and uplift both the New Yorkers who are far too often overlooked as potential technology talent, as well as the rich but fragmented ecosystem of workforce organizations and programs operating in areas of the city that are less accessible geographically to Per Scholas’s campuses. 

Here were our key findings:

  • The Satellite Model is broadening Per Scholas’s reach into new communities and addressing unmet demand for locally accessible tech training.
  • Learners to date receive what appears to be an equal training experience.
  • The Satellite Model incorporates an extensive scaffolding of capacity-building supports to set partner organizations – and the partnerships – up for success.
  • A Satellite “ecosystem” is taking shape, linking Satellite partners to one another as well as to Per Scholas.
  • Per Scholas and its Satellite partners are building a compelling story about collaborative outcomes and impacts.
  • The Satellite Model holds promise for achieving greater efficiencies in staffing and costs in the long run but will necessitate Per Scholas staff to play significant roles in program implementation and administration for longer than anticipated. 

National Potential

“The Satellite Model allows for Per Scholas to meet the growing demand for tech training and will help more individuals launch upwardly mobile careers,” said Deborah Goldfarb, Global Head of Citizenship for Barclays. “Critically, Per Scholas will be able to further break down barriers and create access for learners across New York City and beyond.” 

The Satellite approach could have national implications in the future, beyond New York City. It might prove to be applicable in a market covering a large geographic area with sufficient tech employment opportunities dispersed throughout. If an appropriate community organization in a suburban or rural area can be identified to partner with the Per Scholas campus in a central business district, the Satellite Model is one promising strategy for increasing access to training for more prospective learners. 

 

Partnering for Impact: The Per Scholas Satellite Model

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