U.S. unemployment has reached historically low levels. The latest job figures showed that there are more than 7.14 million job openings, almost one million more openings than the total unemployed. In short: America needs workers.
For the tech industry, the numbers are stark as well.
We need to place workers in 1.8 million tech jobs through 2024.
Much like the rest of the economy, we know that we are not producing enough skilled tech workers to meet the growing demand.
Think about it: every company is now a technology company. Too often, we only think of tech jobs in Silicon Valley. Yet only 5% of tech jobs are actually in Silicon Valley. There are tech career opportunities across every geography, every vertical market and at companies of every size. We see nearly 6 million Americans still sitting on the sidelines of this booming economy for a lot of reasons. However, one of the most critical is that a large swath of Americans do not have the confidence to take on a job that is categorized as technology.
CompTIA research found that 70 percent of Americans aged 18-34 cite confidence as a factor that keeps them from taking the first step towards a career in technology.
Further, the stereotype of the introverted male math genius has taken hold.
Only 38 percent of women said they were encouraged to pursue a career in tech, and only 33 percent of women believe that tech workers look like them.
About 12 million people work in technology in the US with half of those working in roles not traditionally associated with tech. There are those who find their way in through interests in computers, gaming, design or other fields where they use tech every day. The average person needs a little more assurance, encouragement, and role models to overcome the stereotypical image of working in tech.
Digging out of our employment hole and breaking down the barriers to a tech career can only be accomplished by demonstrating that any American, regardless of education, location, or skill level can succeed in a tech job.
We can’t let a “man-made” hurdle like the Confidence Gap make us stumble.
As a society, we must tackle these issues head-on by working with educators to introduce students — especially girls — and parents to technology careers at a young age, partner with industry groups to recruit tech workers of all ages and provide the research that demonstrates why public-private partnerships that support apprenticeships and other entry points into technology are worthwhile investments. Our economy depends on it.
David Hyman is the president of The Center for Technology & Workforce Solutions and can be reached at email@example.com.