Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Launches New Drive to Diversify Tech

Thursday, May 9, 2019

 

Seeks Massachusetts-based Civic Organizations, Businesses, or Nonprofits to Develop Programs to Bring New Talent to Tech Workforce, via Internships or Other Job Placement Strategies

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has launched a new effort aimed at increasing the diversity of candidates that get hired for internships, apprenticeships, and entry level jobs in the Commonwealth’s technology sector. The program aims to provide grants to civic organizations, businesses, or non-profits for new or existing projects that increase the number of workers from under represented populations who are offered internships or entry-level employment opportunities at tech firms across Massachusetts.

The new request for proposals is being managed by the Innovation Institute at MassTech, a public economic development agency that has spearheaded programs such as the MassTech Intern Partnership, which provides stipends to tech startups to host Massachusetts students as interns. The Innovation Institute has set aside $475,000 to award to one or more applicants who propose a creative project or projects that will increase the successful placement and retention of diverse talent from underrepresented groups including women and persons of color. 

“Expanding opportunity across the Commonwealth is a core focus of the Baker-Polito Administration and through this new program, our hope is to fund initiatives that expand the ways diverse applicants can enter the high-tech workforce and create new pathways for workers to thrive in their position,” stated Housing and Economic Development Secretary Michael Kennealy.

While studies consistently show that Massachusetts has one of the top innovation economies in the country, state data on diversity in the workforce shows there is relatively low participation among women and persons of color in tech-related occupations, particularly when compared to the total workforce as a whole.

“We have a very real need for tech workers in this state, including over 9,000 job openings in the cybersecurity sector alone,” stated Damon Cox, Assistant Secretary of Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship for the Commonwealth. “In 2017, women held forty-nine percent of the total jobs in Massachusetts, but only twenty-eight percent of computer, engineering, and science jobs. When we look across gender and race stats, we see great opportunity to improve diversity in tech, while also addressing the critical worker shortages that exist in the Commonwealth’s key innovation sectors.”

The Tech Talent Diversity Initiative looks to fund pilot projects managed by either civic organizations, businesses, non-profits, or other organizations which will address one or more of the following:

  • Streamlines the identification and recruitment of diverse candidates for internships or entry level positons;
  • Promotes candidates’ efforts to be placed in workforce opportunities;
  • Supports a successful work experience for candidates; or 
  • Improves employer practices toward increasing participation and retention rates among diverse populations, including efforts to address potential unconscious bias in employer hiring and retention activities.

“We’re looking for one or several organizations that can tackle this critical challenge, to get candidates into jobs, but also ensure that they have the training, mentorship, and employer support to stay in the sector long-term,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Our Innovation Institute has a strong record of identifying organizations that are having an impact at the grassroots level, particularly in entrepreneur mentoring, a program that goes beyond traditional tech sectors. I have no doubt that we’ll be able to identify deserving organizations across Massachusetts that can increase worker diversity in our innovation sectors.”

The Commonwealth’s efforts to drive diversity in the tech sector include support for groups such as Entrepreneurship for All, which is boosting entrepreneur mentoring in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth, while at the same time driving inclusivity. As of early 2019, the organization graduated 349 startups from its accelerator programs, 73 percent of which were women-owned and 57 percent of which were minority-owned.

Earlier this year, the One8 Foundation and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) launched the first-ever Registered Apprenticeship program in the Commonwealth. Called Apprenti - Massachusetts, the program is managed by an organization out of Washington State that has a strong track record of boosting the skills and earning potential of participants, while also meeting employer needs. Apprenti combines paid on-the-job training and education for placement in a high-skill occupation and is working with the tech industry to identify mid-tier jobs ready to be filled by highly competent people — regardless of educational background. Accepted apprentices enter a two to five month period of technical training with third party providers, after which they begin a year of paid on-the-job training.

Full details on the open request for proposals, including evaluation criteria and can be found on the procurement page of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s procurement page:

https://masstech.org/tech-talent-diversity-initiative

A question and answer session for potential respondents will be held on May 23rd. Registration is available online here. The deadline for responses to the open request for proposals is June 28th.

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About the Innovation Institute at MassTech

The Innovation Institute is the entity that advances a core mission of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative: improving the conditions for innovation and cluster growth across the Commonwealth.  Created in 2003, the Innovation Institute intervenes in the economy in the following four ways:

  • Conducts research and analysis that improves the states understandings of unmet needs and opportunities in the states innovation economy;
  • Serves as convener and key strategic broker on the landscape;
  • Manages high-value projects on behalf of the Commonwealth; and
  • Makes strategic investments in support of innovation-based economic development. 

In addition, the Innovation Institute provides support for priority industry clusters such as Big Data, Advanced Manufacturing, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cybersecurity, and Robotics; supports cluster growth through university investments; and manages specialty funds such as the Entrepreneur Mentorship Initiative, and the Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) Program. For more information visit https://innovation.masstech.org/

 

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