The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that over the next ten years, more than 1.5 million jobs will need to be filled in the technology industry. But, a CompTIA survey of American teens found that just 18% indicate an interest in pursuing a technology career, and more than 60% of the teens surveyed said they had “no knowledge” of what it is like to work in the technology sector.
As companies progressively develop strategies for addressing their immediate workforce needs, TECH CORPS believes part of the long-term strategy must include early career exposure to the tech sector and outreach to a more diverse pool of students.
As part of its strategy, and with support from the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Department of Job and Family Services, TECH CORPS has developed a new workforce development program for teens from low-opportunity communities.
Computing Career Corps (CCC) introduces students, ages 14-18, to a variety of technology career pathways including programming/coding, networks, robotics and app development.
Davon Coffman, an 11th grader at Gahanna-Lincoln High School, said that he enrolled in the program because he wants to expand his knowledge of computers. “Technology is changing at such a fast rate, and I want to get a head start,” Coffman said.
Over the course of the program, participants will develop technical and 21st century skills; discover pathways for entering technology careers and also use their newly acquired skills to create solutions and artifacts to address everyday problems.
“If we want to ensure a skilled and diverse workforce tomorrow,” said Lisa M. Chambers, TECH CORPS National Director. “We must be more intentional about the opportunities we provide and the students we outreach today.”
Within three weeks of announcing the program, more than 250 students applied to participate. The 100 students enrolled represent 23 high schools and 2 middle schools across Franklin County. Forty-five percent of the participants are female, and 83% are African American.
“I think these numbers show us that a diverse group of teens are interested in opportunities like CCC,” said Chambers. “Through programs like this, we can move students from being passive users to active creators with technology and also help them to see the connection between the technology they love and the careers associated with the creation of those technologies.”
Students who successfully complete the CCC program by attending 80% of the sessions, achieving three skill attainment digital badges and receiving recommendations from at least two TECH CORPS staff members will have an opportunity to participate in TECH CORPS’ summer youth employment program, Student WEB CORPS.
“After doing Student WEB CORPS last summer, I decided that I wanted to major in Computer Science (CS),” said Dey’Jianna South, a 10th grader at ECOT and current CCC participant. “Before that, I wanted to be a pediatrician, but I saw how many jobs there were in CS just in Ohio and I want one!”
CCC is funded by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and administered by FCDJFS.