- Amid job loss in New York City as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Per Scholas and Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Inc. (Goodwill NYNJ) seek to enable underrepresented individuals to obtain tech jobs through the launch of Bridge to Technology, the companies announced Jan. 19. In support of the program, Goodwill NYNJ received $1 million from the New York City Council, which includes $150,000 from the New York City Human Resources Administration, and an additional $300,000 from BNY Mellon.
- Bridge to Technology seeks to help individuals enrolled in New York City's Human Resources Administration city-wide career services programs to qualify for advanced technology training programs, graduate and then obtain an on-demand tech job, according to the announcement. Per Scholas will use Bridge curriculum to provide an overview of tech-related topics including hardware, software virtualization and troubleshooting. Goodwill NYNJ will provide classroom instruction to help participants improve digital literacy; and offer support such as transportation, assistance with housing and financial planning. The organizations have a goal of enrolling 100 people to receive training through the pilot program, according to Goodwill NYNJ.
- "The pervasive digital divide — both in infrastructure and skills — deeply impacts young adults and individuals with economic barriers looking for jobs in tech and tech-adjacent industries," Annie Garneva, vice president of policy and special initiatives at the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, said in a statement. The Bridge to Technology program is a move toward "a more equitable workforce," Garneva said.
Barriers to tech skills-building exist throughout New York City, according to research.
Multiple program managers of adult-focused tech skills-building providers in New York City geared toward careers in tech told researchers that many potential participants can't join the programs because they lack digital skills or basic literacy, a 2020 report published by the Center for Urban Future found. The barriers are "particularly severe in many low-income communities of color, including predominantly immigrant communities," researchers stated.
Although Bridge to Technology is a New York City-based initiative, millions of workers across the U.S. lack digital skills, according to the National Skills Coalition (NSC). In particular, technology-related skill gaps in the workforce exist from entry-level workers to managers, NSC said in a panel discussion last year. In November, the organization proposed an agenda to then President-elect Joe Biden and Congress to focus on upskilling or reskilling workers for new jobs and re-employment assistance.
Tech companies like IBM are also pushing for a national focus on training. IBM shared a letter to the Biden administration's nominated secretaries of labor and education Jan. 28, asking them to rethink education and hiring practices in the country. The tech giant said public-private partnerships and apprenticeships, for example, could provide pathways to careers.