A young, college educated and tech savvy African American man or woman is often a top candidate for a position at most IT companies across the country, according to a study released last year by a Washington DC based think tank.
Late last year, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) published a report entitled, Tech Opportunities for Minorities: a Good News, Bad News Story. The comprehensive analysis highlighted that between 2009 to 2014, African Americans with a college degree gained more tech jobs than most other high growth sector jobs, including health care. According to the report, employment in the industry increased by about 79,000 in computer and mathematical related jobs—compared to about 76,000 in health care industry-related jobs—one of the most consistent fields of job growth.
In a release highlighting the study, officials said, “The opportunities tech jobs are creating for non-Asian minorities defies conventional stereotypes. That’s because the tech and IT job boom is much broader than Silicon Valley.” The report added that tech jobs in finance, government and education are being created in dozens of non-traditional metro hubs like New Orleans, Denver, Charlotte and North Carolina.
Some in the IT industry contend much of the information contained in the report by PPI supports a trend that has existed in the tech industry for several years—driven in large part to the exponential growth of social media. “Technology drives every company from small industrial firms to large corporations—a one- or two-man private business to major airlines,” said Lauren Engelhardt, vice president of Statscom Technologies, an IT recruitment firm based in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey.
Engelhardt said many of her clients are targeting millennials (young professionals in their 20’s or early 30’s) for jobs in all areas with a focus on social media, due to their age and tech proficiency. However, she noted that fewer people are choosing to go into technology immediately after college—opting to pursue other career or personal interests. “We see fewer young people—especially those right out of college going into the technology field than 10 or 15 years ago,” she said. “The demand for young and career-hungry millennials out of college is pretty high right now.”
Lastly, one caveat to the mostly upbeat PPI report is that many colleges and universities may be discouraging science and technically minded African Americans away from careers in IT. During a speech last year at a PPI Forum, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said too many minorities and people of color, “remain stuck on the wrong side of opportunities divide.” Clyburn suggested that tech companies, institutions of higher learning, media and community groups do more to advocate careers in tech fields to qualified minorities.