Around the globe and here in Silicon Valley, economies are threatened by an ever-widening gap between available jobs and workers with the right skills, especially in tech. Half a million computing jobs, America’s #1 source of new wages, are unfilled nationwide yet just over 49,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year. Corporate America has the money and the moral responsibility – not to mention the most at stake – to fill the gap.
And what’s at stake is far-reaching: 67 percent of computing jobs are outside the tech sector. Programming positions are growing 50 percent faster than jobs overall, with coding skills needed for data analysts, artists, designers, engineers, and scientists as well as IT workers. By 2025, two million manufacturing jobs will be unfilled because not enough workers have the needed skills such as computing and problem-solving; this count is up from just 600,000 in 2011. And by 2030, as many as 54 million American workers will need to learn new skills and change occupations because of advances in technology and automation.
To wait for our government and/or schools to fix glaringly broken education and job training
systems is wishful thinking. Consider these shocking statistics:
• fewer than half of U.S. schools offer any computer science courses just 13 states have a policy to give all high school students access to computer science (CS) courses, and only five of those provide K-12 access
• California sadly exemplifies this neglect: although some progress is being made, only two percent of CA high school students took CS courses last year, far less than those who took ceramics
• and although 70 percent of CA principals surveyed think CS is important, they lack the funds to hire and train CS teachers
Businesses can and must change the game. Companies that need workers with tech skills should start filling in the gap, urgently, by
taking concrete measures to both nurture and tap into a wider talent pool.
Invest in education efforts through funding and/or in-kind services
• join, or initiate, public-private partnerships
• sponsor hackathons and coding events, especially for disadvantaged kids and groups under-represented in tech
• support non-profits that promote computer science and STEM education
Incentivize employees to volunteer in schools and job retraining programs.
• adopt a local school and underwrite its computer science teacher(s)
• enable teams of five to work four 10s and jobshare teaching computer science
• reward (and develop) high performers with a three-month volunteer teaching sabbatical
Widen the hiring net.
• recruit more broadly from overlooked, yet
rich sources of hard-working prospects like
community colleges (where people like me
• inspire future talent by sending tech-focused
employees – especially women and
minorities – to high school and community
college job fairs and career nights
• eliminate “degree inflation” by removing
academic credentials from descriptions of jobs
that don’t require them
These efforts go far beyond corporate social responsibility to acts of corporate survival. As individuals our survival instincts should
prompt us to act, too. We must lobby local schools and officials for K-12 computer science education; volunteer our tech skills; and encourage kids to pursue CS skills, careers, and dreams.
Need resources? Check out organizations like code.org, CoderDojo, Citizen Schools, TEALS, Hour of Code, Scratch, She’s Coding, and others. Ask Congress to support computer science at www.change.org/computerscience.