The pandemic has led many professionals to pivot their careers, particularly towards the technology sector.
Although there is a clear boom of talent within the tech industry, Black workers are still underrepresented with just 7.4% of Black talent, including just 1.6% of Black women, making up the tech workforce according to a 2021 report from AnitaB.org.
A new Jobs for the Future report, in collaboration with JFF and Comcast NBCUniversal, called “Purpose-Built to Advance Equity: Expanding Opportunities in Tech for Black Americans” took analysis of over 200 startups and education institutions to reveal which organizations are trying to address this disparity.
The “14 Innovators to Watch” shined a light on organizations that are focusing on supporting Black talent within the tech sector by offering career preparation courses, technology training, and are Black-led or founded by Black professionals.
Among these innovators was nonprofit Black Girls Code, which is a training program for girls ages 7 to 17 that helps them adopt the skills needed to enter the software and technology industries in the future.
A recent JFF report of over 1,000 Black adults showed that 6 in 10 respondents don’t work within the digital or IT industries, but are open to shifting their career path. However, 55% of respondents said they did not know where to begin, while 51% and 52% said they lacked the financial resources and skills, respectively.
“To disrupt historic patterns of occupational segregation in technology, we cannot ignore the systemic barriers to access and advancement that begin in K-12 schools and persist in communities and in the workplace,” said Michael Collins, vice president at JFF and a lead author of the report. “The most successful models are not only helping Black talent build skills and secure employment, but also making long-term investments in mentorship, social capital, and networks that enable Black professionals to access—and sustain—careers in technology.”
In order to encourage interest within the technology field among Black students and workers, the survey suggests that mentorships and representation will play a huge role.
In fact, the JFF report showed just 55% of Black Americans have never had a career mentor. Among those who did, 7% said they haven’t had one that looked like them.
Education also plays a huge factor in ushering Black workers into the tech field. For instance, 39% of respondents said that having access to free, internet-based educational resources would aid in making the pivot to IT careers.