Anthony Pegues, second from right, with Per Scholas CEO Plinio Ayala (far right), and fellow graduates from CodeBridge, a web development training partnership between General Assembly and Per Scholas.
Anthony Pegues was a part-time janitor in the suburbs of New York City who sought a way into a rewarding career. He saw tech — and web development specifically — as a viable path, but didn’t have the resources to get the skills he needed to be ready for a job in the field.
Unfortunately, Pegues’ situation is all too common. There are plenty of tech jobs available, and people who are eager to fill them. But many passionate, prospective developers from underserved and overlooked communities do not have the resources, time, or opportunities to pursue their passions and get the skills they need to transform their careers.
At General Assembly, our central mission is to create pathways so that everyone with the dedication and commitment to reshape their career can do so, regardless of their prior experience or ability to pay for the training they need to get there. To this end, we’ve spent the last few years launching and refining strategies and programs that break down barriers and contribute to the diversity of the tech sector.
But there’s still much more work to do.
Create opportunities for employers and job-seekers alike with these proposed policies to help close chronic skills gaps.
A tightening labor market, persistent skills gaps (in fields from manufacturing to technology), and the short shelf life of skills in the rapidly changing digital economy, have led to a seemingly paradoxical narrative in the education-to-employment pipeline.
In manufacturing, for instance, 70 percent of companies now face shortages of workers with the necessary technology skills. And yet millions of Americans struggle to find jobs that put them on a path toward social and economic mobility or, at least, a comfortable perch in the middle class.
What’s worse, the compounding forces of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will begin to dislocate a growing number of workers — putting unprecedented pressure on an education and workforce development system that is ill-equipped to tackle looming reskilling and training challenges.
New Models Emerge
In the last five years, an array of non-accredited education and training providers has surfaced to address these challenges, including General Assembly, as well as on-demand learning platforms, ultra-low-cost course providers (like StraighterLine or Coursera), and new approaches to “education as an employee benefit” (pioneered by companies like Chipotle, in partnership with Guild Education).
Individuals thrive professionally and personally when they can live openly and without fear. The strength and security of our communities — and economy — depends on it.
At General Assembly, we’re in the business of empowering people to pursue work they love and careers that allow them to realize their passions. We’re also big believers that when people bring their whole selves to work — and all the identities, experiences, and ideas that make them unique — they’re more productive, engaged, and innovative.
Apparently, the Department of Justice doesn’t agree. On the heels of the president’s surprise ban on transgender service members in the military, on July 26 the Department of Justice issued a brief that states that Title VII — the law that protects workers from sex discrimination — does not extend to the LGBTQ+ community.
This piece has been adapted from Talent Economy. Read General Assembly and Whiteboard Advisors’ full white paper, Investing in Talent, here (PDF).
Amid complex external and economic pressures, companies must face the reality that the nature of business is changing. The pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and in an era in which the shelf life of skills is less than five years, it is critical for employers to prepare their workers to adapt to the shifting demands of work in the digital age.
The good news for employers is that current federal policy provides tax-advantaged opportunities for companies to support employees’ educational aspirations. Rooted in sections 117, 127, and 132 of the tax code, educational tax benefits are somewhat unique in that they provide a double benefit: They are both deductible for the employer, and tax free to the employee.
Obama and Biden not only embrace technology, they plan to invest in high-tech training. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
With nearly one-third of Americans now holding bachelor’s degrees, the level of college completion in this country is at an all-time high. Yet, according to the federal government, by 2022 the United States will fall short by 11 million the necessary number of workers with postsecondary education, whether bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, or vocational certificates. More importantly, we could face a gap between the skills learned in the classroom, and those needed to do in-demand jobs.
President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on job training before signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, July 22, 2014. Official White House photo by Amanda Lucidon.
In January 2014’s State of the Union Address, President Obama issued a rousing assignment to Vice President Biden, asking him to lead a review of federal training programs to identify and implement strategies to make these programs more job driven—that is, responsive to the needs of employers to “effectively connect ready-to-work Americans with jobs that are available now.” This review is part of a greater effort to grow the U.S. economy and put the American middle class back to work.
Andrew Rasiej, Brad Hargreaves, Julie Samuels, Senator Chuck Schumer, Jake Schwartz, and Derek Parham at General Assembly to discuss patent reform.
Last week, we were pleased to host two events that gave members of the General Assembly community an opportunity to engage with federal policy makers who are focused on promoting entrepreneurship and helping high-tech companies continue to grow and fuel job creation in the United States.
On Friday, we joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Engine Advocacy, and New York Tech Meetup, to host an event on patent reform featuring special guest Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, policy wonks and other members of the tech community gathered at GA to hear Senator Schumer talk about his efforts to protect innovation in America through reforming our nation’s outdated system of patent regulation. In his opening remarks, GA Co-Founder and CEO Jake Schwartz tied the issue back to our community, a group of innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs we as a country can’t afford to stifle because outdated laws.
Patent reform event with guest Senator Chuck Schumer of NY; round table with Congressman Tom Marino of PA