Delaware Prosperity Partnership has completed a strategic plan to support a more diverse tech talent pipeline in Delaware, with support from JPMorgan Chase.
DPP partnered with 50 stakeholders representing Delaware businesses, nonprofits, education, and workforce development organizations to launch a statewide strategy to build a more diverse, inclusive, and highly qualified tech talent pipeline in Delaware for 2021 and beyond.
In addition to a rigorous review of the labor market and hiring data, the research involved interviewing various populations — including underserved individuals, justice-involved citizens, people re-entering the workforce, etc. — to understand the pain points and get firsthand experiences to inform the strategy. Focus groups were also conducted with employers and training providers who work with diverse and low-income populations, organizations supporting justice-involved citizens, and employers that intentionally reach out to underserved populations for hiring.
The key to the plan’s success will be public/private partnership toward developing a coordinated and demand-driven approach to information technology talent, retraining residents and upskilling IT workers, and expanding IT career opportunities for youth.
The work toward this strategy began in 2019 when DPP received a philanthropic investment from JPMorgan Chase to develop the plan. This is part of JPMorgan Chase’s $350 million global commitment to prepare underserved youth and adults for the future of work.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership’s strategy addresses three key factors identified in a landscape analysis of the current IT pipeline:
- IT needs to remain a key concern for Delaware employers, with IT jobs needed at all levels (entry to highly specialized) across IT domains like software, networks, cybersecurity, data management, and tech support.
- Changing skills and the accelerated digitization of our economy in the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate bottlenecks in IT hiring.
- Greater focus on upskilling those already in the workforce and continued expansion of education pathways are needed to address IT talent needs.
Delaware enjoys a widely recognized IT talent pipeline, with more than 17,000 jobs filled by IT professionals and degrees in computer science and information technology rising by about 20% over the last two years. Yet more IT talent is needed to create a competitive advantage.
The plan guides future IT workers through five stages of career preparation:
- Career Awareness: Promotes career info, pathways, structures, and routes to career advancement.
- Interest & Exploration: Helps diverse populations easily accessible ways to explore IT careers and interests and connect with other diverse workers in IT.
- Training & Education: Reflects the education and training needs of youth and adults.
- Career Entry: Helps workers from underrepresented populations find IT jobs and feel valued.
- Career Advancement: Highlights clear pathways for career advancement and peer support and builds a sense of community within IT occupations.
The key to the success of this rollout will be Delaware’s ability to align state policies and resources to accelerate the impact of the IT talent strategy. The strategy proposes establishing an employer training tax credit and establishing a work share program that uses unemployment insurance for part-time layoffs so employers can hold on to key employees and use reduced workloads to provide needed training.
It also proposes that dislocated workers receive unemployment when training for a high-demand occupation and that working adults receive credit for skills training provided by the state’s public institutions. In terms of ongoing industry-workforce connections, the strategy proposes that the state’s workforce board partner with industry to fund and support sector councils and strategies, advocates for programs that integrate wrap-around services with training to increase access for low-income residents, and encourages policies that also help justice-involved citizens gain skills that will lead to and employment.