No product, service, or experience can be built, marketed, or executed without the use of technology. Today, every industry is a technology industry. Even Domino’s Pizza calls itself “a tech company that sells pizza.” Our opportunities for employment reflect this fact. At the moment, there are around 500,000 computing jobs available. By next year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.4 million technology jobs will be open—but only 400,000 Americans will graduate with computer science degrees to fill those jobs.
That would leave a projected 1 million technology jobs to be filled. There is no quick way to bridge this gap because the only sustainable way to bridge the gap is by taking the time to educate, train, and hire locally. We must invest in and prioritize building a sustainable tech ecosystem within our city. It starts with developing talent among those who already live here because they understand the problems their city faces and so are uniquely equipped to help solve them. If we don’t focus on cultivating local talent, then we’ll be stuck continually poaching from other companies and markets because demand far exceeds the supply.
Businesses need a modern lens through which to identify talent. It’s essential, and it boils down to this: every background can be a pathway to a technology career. A computer science degree is no longer a meaningful indicator of who will make a good software developer. Companies like Google and Apple no longer require a computer science degree for technical roles. When you replace a focus on past experience with a focus on an individual’s characteristics and actual work you’ll see the good hires standing right in front of you.
Someone will have to pay for such employees’ training—but it’s good business for your company to pay for this. Building a pipeline of solid talent, specifically trained to your needs and culture, is a great business decision—even if there is a risk of an employee leaving for another job. As an employer, you create a culture of professional development and onboarding process to identify and develop exactly the people you need.
But perhaps most important of all is hiring for a gender-diverse team. Make your creators, builders, and developers of our products and services reflect the people that use those products and services. According to Deloitte, 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women. The workforce in the US is 47% female—yet only 12% of engineers are women, and they remain underrepresented in tech jobs.
Currently, only 14–18% of computer science graduates are women. McKinsey & Co., for example, points out that companies in the top quartile for diversity are more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians. When you build products and services that reflect your users, it results in a stronger business, because such products and services generate stronger revenue, and they foster a healthier, more inclusive workplace.
By educating, training and hiring locally your company will do better because your products, your culture, and your team will be better.