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Diversify the IT Workforce

As we honor black history this month, we find more African Americans entering the IT workforce, but are we doing enough as an industry?

African Americans are finding tech career success, although they are still somewhat under-represented in the IT workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008 calculated that approximately 574,000 African Americans worked in IT and related fields. African Americans make up roughly 12.5 percent of the entire U.S. population, compared to only 8.6 percent of the IT workforce.

The CompTIA Educational Foundation provided 239 African Americans with free IT training and certification last year, and another 19 received merit award scholarships to help them further their educational goals.

Two recent African American merit award winners came from the Barbara Jordan High School (BJHS) in Houston, Texas, a magnet school that makes it possible for students to earn a high school diploma while acquiring career and technical skills in their chosen career.

BJHS Seniors Dennis Christian and Lyndon Bolden passed their CompTIA A+ certification tests last fall and already have been accepted into Texas’ top universities. Dennis will attend Texas A&M University in the fall and plans on majoring in telecommunications.  Interested in computers since he was young, he will travel and volunteer with the YMCA this summer before starting college. 

Lyndon will attend the University of Texas to major in management information systems.  He will move into college in early July with hopes of gaining a student job within the computer maintenance department on campus.  Lyndon starting off his high school career focusing on football and athletics, but a knee injury refocused him on an IT career in his junior year.

BJHS combines hands-on study with online curriculum.  The school works with HP and the Houston Community College System (HCCS), but needs more local business support.

Kevin McDonald, an instructor in the program, comments, “Our students need to see where the job opportunities are and what those jobs are like, so that the students can see themselves in those roles.  We need more local companies to allow field trips to their offices and job shadowing.”

“Our industry can only grow stronger with more diversification and more qualified technicians,” said John Venator, president and CEO of the CompTIA Educational Foundation.  “IT jobs are available, but we lack enough qualified workers to fill them.  With programs like Creating Futures and the IT Merit Awards, we help more individuals launch a career in IT.  However we need more companies and training organizations to step up.  Dennis and Lyndon exemplify the type of bright students our industry wants.  Let’s work together to help even more people join our industry.” 

Individuals and companies can make a donation and learn about partnering opportunities, and prospective participants can apply for IT training, by visiting the CompTIA Educational Foundation website, http://www.CompTIA-EF.org.

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With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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