Managers are increasingly looking for potential hires with data and technology skills, but research from professional services firm PwC shows a gap between educators and business leaders when it comes to getting graduates ready for jobs. By 2021, 67 percent of U.S. executives expect to choose job candidates with data skills over those without, yet only 23 percent of educators believe their students will graduate with these essential technology and analytical skills.
Insights like these have reinforced PwC’s commitment to help equip today’s youth with the skills, knowledge and resources they’ll need to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce. In March, the firm launched Access Your Potential, a five-year, $320 million commitment focused on closing the opportunity gap by equipping young people from disadvantaged communities, who may otherwise be excluded from the workforce, with the financial, technology and career-selection skills they need to change the trajectory of their lives.
During Computer Science Education Week, PwC announced a $3 million grant to Code.org as part of the Access Your Potential initiative to fund a middle-school curriculum focused on technology skills and to support the training of teachers using the Code.org curriculum within their classrooms over the next three years. All week, PwC professionals nationwide joined the Hour of Code movement by teaching at schools in their local communities, and PwC also funded 240 computer science-related projects through DonorsChoose.org.
“Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science, and it’s imperative that the business community help get them there,” said Colleen Kipfstuhl, Director of Responsible Business Leadership at PwC. “The skills gap is set to widen if left unaddressed. We’re optimistic that programs like these, when implemented across sectors and organizations, will put us on the path to delivering greater societal change.”
PwC is continuing its hands-on approach to technology and computing education by incorporating components of Creative Computing into Access Your Potential initiatives. Creative Computing is an open-source workshop series that aims to increase students’ computational creativity and thinking skills, resulting in increased innovation, problem-solving, technology operation and communication skills. PwC professionals in New York, Philadelphia and Charlotte are working with local underserved schools to deliver the nine-week program, which uses the computer programming language Scratch. The program is planned to extend to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose and Boston in Spring 2018.
Figure 1. The nine-week Creative Computing program
“As professionals and business leaders, it’s critically important we do our part to build the foundation for a diverse workforce,” said Seth Rosensweig, Principal at PwC. “By providing these important skills to students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop them, we’re doing our part to not only strengthen the future workforce and business community, but to equip society with the thinkers, doers and creators who will one day help improve it.”
As the competencies required to succeed in the future workforce continue to evolve, it’s the responsibility of business to create sustainable change by providing the necessary skills, training and education to today’s students and young adults. By addressing access and opportunity gaps with new initiatives and programs, businesses can create lasting change through systemic overhaul.