In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s unequal impacts on workers, particularly workers from underserved communities, and the nation’s racial awakening in 2020, CEOs of Netflix, Cisco, and other large technology companies joined on to a major Business Roundtable commitment to racial equity. However, progress toward an equitable tech ecosystem has stalled, and in many respects is regressing. Between 2014 and 2021, there was only a 1% increase in Black representation in large tech companies. Given the tech sector’s recent market downturn—coupled with tech companies’ public struggle to hire, retain, and advance workers of color—new hiring approaches that move beyond corporate responsibility and become sustainably embedded in the core tech business model are urgently needed.
On Wednesday, November 16, Brookings Metro and the Kapor Center hosted an event as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2022 to explore the promise of apprenticeship as a first step toward normalizing skills-based hiring, recognizing learning in multiple forms, and accelerating racial diversity in tech. Research shows that degree-based screening eliminates 76% of Black adults and 83% of Latino or Hispanic adults from consideration. Speakers discussed how skills-based apprenticeships present a compelling argument for companies serious about racial diversity to access talent at scale and help build an industry culture that prioritizes inclusion.
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