In order for America to produce top tech talent, our education system needs to implement dire and immediate changes at the state, local, and school levels that will propel our students as top competitors in the workforce Careers.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the new Amazon HQ2 locations. Dallas was one of the three finalists. So why didn’t Amazon select Texas, a state that boasts zero state income tax and some of the fastest growing markets in the country?
Given the business-friendly environment Texas offers, many I’ve spoken to agree that the lack of top talent is why Amazon settled elsewhere. I could not agree more, and I also agree with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who said in a press conference about the results of the Amazon HQ2 bid that they have to make “sure that Texas has the best schools in America.” Education is a big part of what develops talent. In Texas and other states across the country, we may lack the talent pool needed to innovate in the tech industry.
In fact, Korn Ferry’s 2017 Future Of Work Report predicts a “significant” tech, media, and telecommunications Careers talent gap in the United States that could cause the country to lose out on “$162.25 billion by 2030.” We do not have enough talent now, and we may not have it in the future if we don’t make changes to our education system.
I’m from India, but I live and work in the United States. I appreciate America’s economy and job market. It’s also where I am raising my children. But I believe there’s a huge difference in the education system here compared to India, and I think that difference is one reason why I’ve been so successful in my career.
U.S. education system
Somewhere along the way, it seems specialization became important in the U.S. education system. Learning in pathways can be incredibly powerful to prepare students for careers. But I fear that there’s not enough cross-over into other disciplines.
When I was in school, we never went as deep into one topic as students seem to in the United States. Yes, I believe specialization can make you deep and strong in one area; however, it can also limit exposure, experimentation and opportunities in other areas and subsequently miss the important ways in which things can be interrelated and connected. Along with a strong technical skillset, collaboration, experimentation and problem-solving are key abilities I look for when hiring people for my tech team.
I think there are three immediate solutions we should consider to improve how we’re developing top tech talent with skills in these areas:
- Fund schools rather than cut their budgets. According to data compiled by Code.org, Texas does not offer any dedicated state funding for computer science professional development.
- Work toward paying teachers a rewarding wage that encourages great teachers to stay in the profession and draws people from the tech industry to teach.
- Enhance our focus on developing a curriculum that helps students learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills. There should be some core standards to provide every American student with the opportunity to succeed in today’s technology-driven business world — whether they end up working in the tech sector or not. For those students who do decide to pursue a career in technology, preparing them to understand problem-solving, leveraging technology and creating a foundation for them to understand the basic foundations of computer science can open doors for their future.
Proposed Solution Local Level Careers
My next proposed solution can be implemented at the local level Careers. Schools and tech companies should build strong partnerships to share talent, ideas and resources. This will help get qualified and experienced tech experts into the classrooms. Students need to learn from people who understand the real-world application of the content. That’s a tough thing for many schools to accomplish on their own. Since they may not be able to meet the salary of a software developer. So, this is a great opportunity for tech companies to step up. Either help supplement the salary of a teacher or send a key member of the team to the school once a week.
Finally, schools should be structured more like the real world. Project-based learning is a great way to start, and it works well with many career and technology pathways. In a project-based learning environment, the emphasis is on building skills around collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. I recommend that at the beginning of the semester. There can be milestones to hit along the way. And students can collaborate with other cohorts who are focused on different areas of interest. Rather than working in silos. In this structure, teachers are facilitators and advisors.
Making these types of changes to our education system will enable us to develop the talent pool. We need for companies looking for talent with a strong technical foundation. We need to develop a Careers workforce that is inspired to continue learning and growing professionally. Have excellent collaboration skills, and deliver the very best and most efficient end product for clients. This work starts in our grade school classrooms. And the time to evolve is now.