Business

MSP TechHire seeks diversity in IT

By Abeni Hill

City of Minneapolis

City of Minneapolis

MSP TechHire empowers women and people of color, helping them to join the technology workforce.

According to the MSP TechHire website, the growth of the technology industry creates a higher demand for people with training in information technology (IT), as well as software and programming. With MSP TechHire, the city of Minneapolis collaborated with Prime Digital Academy, Creating IT Futures Foundation – IT Ready and The Software Guild as well as over 100 regional employers to achieve this empowerment goal.

“There is such a demand for new candidates in the system,” said MSP TechHire program coordinator, Tammy Dickinson. “Nine thousand jobs are open right now.”

Dickinson also added that technology field workers have substantial job security and are paid rewarding salaries.

Through MSP TechHire there are two different options for those who want to pursue a career in the technology field.

“There are training tracks; entry level IT desk and coding boot camps,” said Dickinson.
“IT tech (camp) is basically free of charge. Coding boot camp can be expensive but there are scholarships for women and POC (people of color) residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul area.”

Even though this industry has created more jobs, this industry’s workforce continues to lack diversity.

“Right now tech is largely dominated by white men,” said Dickinson. “There is a disparity in employment and it is important for us to reach into the communities that aren’t employed.”

In forming partnerships, MSP TechHire contacted companies that seemed to be making an effort to hire a more diverse labor pool and companies working to align what they are doing under the MSP TechHire brand.

“We reach into populations that haven’t considered IT as a career,” said Dickinson.

The program coordinator said it was a challenge in engaging women and communities of color and encouraging them to enroll in one of the programs. Theresa Demby, a graduate from the IT Ready program, said while working with the U.S. Army Corp, and prior to her enrolling in the IT program, she had feelings of inadequacy.

“I did not feel comfortable enough as woman to pursue a career in that field because it was predominately male,” said Demby, who said one of aspects that she appreciated about her program was the support system. “Everyone supported one another because at times it is very stressful. That culture that we had was very important in me being successful. You need the support of the people you are in class with.”

Adia Alderson, a graduate from Prime Digital Academy, said she enjoyed the collaborative approach to the program as well. Prior to becoming a student at the Prime Digital Academy, Alderson always had an affinity for coding and technology and some of the skills she learned were self-taught.

“I didn’t realize how much I was missing,” said Alderson. “(The program) touched on all different aspects of collaborative project management.”

Alderson said previous experience is not a prerequisite for any of the programs.

“I want to make sure people know that you don’t have to be a genius in math or coding since you were six. If you have a passion and a desire I feel that’s most important,” said Alderson.

Since graduation Alderson has found employment with the Minnesota Senate as a programmer and Demby is working with Hennepin County and the Windows 10 Project.

If an employer is interested in becoming a part of MSP TechHire, they can contact Tammy Dickinson at tammy.dickinson@minneapolismn.gov. For more information about this initiative and it’s programs, visit www.msptechhire.org.

October 18, 2016
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