The clear link between digital skills and the job market has been identified by the UK Government’s Science and Technology Committee. Tech City UK calculates that the average advertised salary in digital roles in the UK is 36% higher than the national average and states that “93% of tech companies surveyed believe that the digital skills gap affects their commercial operations and talent acquisition.”
Similar links are at the centre of initiatives to upskill New York’s citizens. New York’s current Mayor Bill de Blasio is championing the Tech Talent Pipeline initiative and other programmes are providing development opportunities to underserved communities.
Employment in NYC’s tech sector is far outpacing overall job growth in the city and many tech companies struggle to attract appropriately skilled employees. At the same time, tech employees do not represent the overall demographics of the city.
One of the major suppliers of tech training is New York’s network of 217 public libraries. Last year, 150,000 New Yorkers received tech training at a public library.
In particular, public libraries are positioned to provide training to currently underserved communities across the five boroughs. Much of the growth in the libraries’ tech training programmes is occurring in neighbourhoods whose residents are underrepresented in the city’s tech workforce.
The NYPL TechConnect classes on offer vary too. They range from learning the basics of using a computer, or email, to coding programmes (there is a waiting list of 5000 people for coding).
Staten Island libraries provide a case in point. There, the library tech programmes cover everything from “this is a computer” to coding. Clients include recent immigrants, seniors and parents wanting to help with their children’s homework.
"It's the new literacy," McGuire said. "Being able to find the information you need, interact with government, companies, potential employers — so many different services, daily tasks that have largely moved online. It can be difficult to do those daily things if you don't know how."
You can read more about the role of NYPL in tech training in this report by the Center for an Urban Future.
Additional source: SILive; NYPL.