What Does Success Look Like to Black Workers and Job Seekers in Technology Careers? – Digital Promise

What Does Success Look Like to Black Workers and Job Seekers in Technology Careers?

October 24, 2022 | By

Is your organization providing non-degree skills training and/or supports for individuals pursuing careers in technology? Is this initiative successful in promoting opportunities for Black job seekers and workers in tech? If so, we want to know about it!

Digital Promise is launching a new project to understand the factors, skills, and supports that lead to success for Black workers in technology careers. Through this landscape research, the team aims to identify non-degree skills training and credentialing programs with high success rates for Black learners. We will also facilitate individual interviews and inclusive design sessions with Black workers in tech to co-create recommendations for promoting success and career longevity in the industry.

Addressing the Lack of Diversity in Tech

Nearly a decade ago, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that the technology sector had become a major source of economic growth for the U.S. economy with an increasing number of higher-paying jobs with better benefits. The same report noted that stereotyping and bias—particularly against people of color and women—has resulted in “under-utilization of available talent and under-recruitment of potentially valuable employees.” Nearly a decade later, Black workers, including men and women, continue to be underrepresented across technology careers.

The lack of diversity in technology has been attributed to multiple factors, stemming from longstanding and systemic inequities in education and workforce systems. Factors may include: limited access to educational opportunities, lack of digital skills, biased application and hiring processes, and shorter tenures in part due to limited advancement opportunities and unfair treatment of people of color.

This work builds on research from partners such as Jobs for the Future, who surveyed more than 1,000 Black Americans to explore the opportunities and barriers facing Black learners and workers entering and advancing in digital and IT careers. Their research shows that approximately one-third of respondents demonstrated interest in non-degree training (e.g., short-term programs), which are flexible, cost-effective, and reduce time.

Over the next several months, we will conduct a landscape scan on the state of Black workers in technology careers, curating existing research, programs, services, and supports that effectively promote success. Next, we will facilitate in-depth interviews with Black job seekers and workers in the industry to learn about the factors, skills, and supports that helped sustain their motivation and persistence in pursuing non-degree credentials in technology. Finally, we will lead inclusive design sessions with Black workers to generate recommendations for supporting successful careers in technology.

Funding for this project is generously provided by Walmart through the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity, established by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $100 million commitment over five years to advance racial equity in four U.S. societal systems: education, finance, health, and criminal justice. The center focuses on eradicating systematic disparities experienced by Black and African American communities in the U.S.

By centering the experiences of Black workers, we aim to impact the recruitment and retention of Black workers in tech. In turn, we hope that these efforts contribute to increasing the number of Black workers who succeed in life-sustaining technology careers due to increased skills, supports, and sense of belonging.

Reach out to the Digital Promise Adult Learning team at adulted@digitalpromise.org to learn more about getting involved in the project.

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