Many companies are facing persistent skills gaps and workforce shortages. With women and other underrepresented groups leaving jobs en masse and more job postings every day, businesses are certainly feeling the strain. To help build a resilient pipeline and augment the workforce, CompTIA has made development of the tech workforce a critical objective with more comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, according to executives during a “How CompTIA Can Help You Optimize Your Business with the Most Innovative Workforce” session at CompTIA’s Communities & Councils Forum.
Provide Opportunities for Younger Females with TechGirlz
One group that is commonly underrepresented in tech is women. Deloitte shows that only 24% of the technical workforce was comprised of women in 2021. Girls have statistically shed away from technology, a problem that has been shown to begin in middle school. Peer pressures, developmental strains, and reinforcement of traditional gender roles such as passivity, have historically made it more difficult for females to seek out curriculum and job roles in technical fields. CompTIA’s TechGirlz is seeking to change that.
Amy Cliett, senior director of program operations with TechGirlz, describes how the group is setting the stage for female advancement with their middle school program. “One of the first things we do is get the girls in a separate, safe space,” she said. “A lot of times girls tend to shy away from experimenting or asking questions in front of boys. Then we give them opportunities to explore how they want to learn. A lot of girls really like to solve problems.” The organization develops projects around those problems, supporting girls in their pursuit of answers.
Enable Work-Based Learning for Underrepresented Groups with Connect Four
CompTIA also works diligently to help fill the talent pipeline by encouraging participation from traditionally underrepresented groups. To help encourage with work-based learning within those groups, CompTIA utilizes a program known as Connect Four.
During the pandemic, Connect Four provided remote panelist discussions for students to help generate interest in different career fields. For example, recent discussions have involved hearing impaired groups which was supported with sign language interpreters and representatives from various fields. “One of the most challenging components of a learning program in high school and college is that work-based learning opportunity, where they get practical experience or apply what they learned in the classroom in a job environment,” commented Angel Pinero, vice president of strategic academic relationships at CompTIA.
Set Up Apprenticeships to Strengthen the Workforce
Apprenticeships are no longer a tool solely for the trades. CompTIA has active apprenticeship programs to help combine instructions with mentorships to encourage participation in tech careers. “Apprenticeships are one of the oldest workforce development tools in existence,” said Amy Kardel, senior vice president of strategic workforce relations at CompTIA. “Apprenticeships allow employers to develop a highly skilled workforce of their own.”
Apprenticeships are unique because they also allow employers to take an active role in their own talent gaps by developing internal mentors alongside the training of new talent. “Beyond staffing solutions and the retention of talent, we’re seeing better development of leadership, allowing employers to give back in a new way,” she comments.
Appeal to Alternate Educational Pathways with CompTIA Tech Career Academy
Another population that often experiences exclusion from tech jobs are those without a degree. There’s a common misconception that only those who have a traditional four-year degree can access technical jobs. “I think this country’s done a little bit of a disservice to our students in making people feel like they have to go to college, and if they don’t, they’re less than,” said Nancy Hammervik, CEO of the CompTIA Tech Career Academy.
Providing technical education, career support, soft skill development, and even interview prep and training, the academy puts people on a non-traditional track for technical education and careers. “If you graduate with an associate’s degree and a CompTIA A+ certification, you’ve got a ticket into a job in tech for probably less than $10,000.”
Another pipeline avenue that CompTIA supported was a program that helped incarcerated women in Texas gain their tech certification and find gainful employment in an effort to promote familial relationships.
Fill the Tech Gap with a Diverse Workforce
CompTIA supports diversity programs to help reach marginalized or disenfranchised groups of people. Going beyond just job placement, CompTIA’s Advancing Tech Talent & Diversity Community helps support workplaces in their DEI efforts to ensure people not only get hired but are retained. “Diverse teams are more innovative, more creative, better at problem solving, they help you attract even more diverse talent—they become your best advocates,” notes Yvette Steele, senior director of member communities at CompTIA. Enabling education for underrepresented groups only widens the talent pool for businesses.
The possibilities are many if we choose to widen our perspective on how we create a skilled workforce. Pinero commented that “America has forgotten the purpose of education. The purpose of education isn’t to prepare students for a degree, it’s to prepare students for life.”
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CompTIA members can watch the full session here.