Women make up only 25 percent of the IT workforce, and for people of color that percentage is even lower. Many of the larger IT companies (e.g., Google, Facebook, Apple) are actively working to improve their hiring practices, having created diversity programs to increase the number of minorities in their employ. In order to make a greater impact–one that will address the entire industry–the ultimate solution must involve a combined effort between academia and the IT industry.
Executive Director, Workforce Development Sttrategies
Creating IT Futures Foundation
Biography: Gretchen Koch is responsible for the Creating IT Futures Foundation’s IT workforce development and education initiatives. She joined the foundation in 2014 after 11 years of developing national workforce initiatives for CompTIA, where she parlayed her knowledge of industry and educational systems to become a nationally known change agent for IT workforce development.
She works closely with the U.S. Department of Education on its Data Sharing Project and currently leads efforts with the State of Illinois and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance to develop and promote IT career pipelines in the state. She also is the National IT Career Cluster Leader for the States’ Career Clusters Initiative and the Lead Entity for the IT Learning Exchange for Illinois’ Race to the Top Pathways Initiative. When she is not working from the Foundation’s headquarters, she spends a great amount of time in downtown Chicago working with local leaders in education and workforce development.
Creating IT Futures Foundation
Biography: Charles Eaton leads the Creating IT Futures Foundation, which helps populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in information technology careers. Under Eaton’s direction, the foundation has expanded its scope to cultivate best practices in American workforce development and tech-related STEM education.
Eaton is often invited to participate in White House Administration workforce development campaigns and is quoted frequently in the media as an authority on tech workforce development and STEM education. In the past few years, he’s been a speaker at the US News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference, the League for Innovation STEMtech Conference, the California Workforce Association Spring Conference, the Philly Emerging Tech Conference, the National Career Pathways Network’s Annual Conference, and the Consortium for School Networking Conference.
Through innovative collaborations among academia and corporate America, we can dismantle the lack of diversity in the information technology (IT) workforce. Women make up only 25 percent of the IT workforce, and for people of color that percentage is even lower. Many of the larger IT companies (e.g., Google, Facebook, Apple) are actively working to improve their hiring practices, having created diversity programs to increase the number of minorities in their employ. In order to make a greater impact–one that will address the entire industry–the ultimate solution needs to involve a combined effort between academia and the IT industry.
Most larger IT firms can cherry-pick the best and brightest computer science majors from the nation’s elite universities. However, by filling their open positions using that strategy, their teams will ultimately lack the diversity they need because those elite universities are not diverse enough.
Resume inflation is rampant in the industry, yet the vast majority of IT jobs do not require advanced degrees. Often an associate’s degree or industry credential is all that is necessary. With that in mind, IT companies should look to academic institutions and programs where there is a diverse student body.
A good example of where this strategy is currently making an impact is IBM’s P-Tech internship program. IBM works with high schoolers in urban areas as they progress toward not only a high school degree but also an associate’s degree at a local city college. Likewise, Cisco is developing a sustained internship program in urban areas where the same students are hired as interns for the company through their high school and college years, giving them experience much like an apprenticeship program.
For those already out of high school, Creating IT Futures works with underserved populations, providing training and certifying them in 8 weeks, preparing them for entry-level IT positions. The program goes a step further after it is completed, connecting graduates to local employers.
In this session, Creating IT Futures Foundation Executive Director, Workforce Development Strategies Gretchen Koch will share strategies on how to defy and dismantle the diversity issue in the tech industry. Presenting with Ms. Koch will be Charles Eaton, CEO of the Creating IT Futures Foundation. Together they will share real-world examples of work-based learning programs, from organizations such as IBM and Cisco.
Attendees will break into groups to brainstorm and identify three to five ways that they could implement workforce-based learning techniques in their own locations.
Following this presentation, attendees should have the basic knowledge they need to create similar programs in their communities, in order to attract and develop a more diverse IT workforce. They will also have real-world examples to which they can refer to demonstrate that these programs are successful when implemented properly.
This session is useful for all attendees, researchers, and practitioners with any level of experience.