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The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Tech 2020 organization co-hosted a panel session this week, along with the Congressional Black Associates (CBA), advising Capitol Hill staffers and young professionals on how they can transition non-tech education and work experience into a tech career.
The panel had a prestigious lineup of speakers, including Laurent Crenshaw, Yelp’s director of federal public policy; David London, eBay’s head of America’s government relations; Travis G. Mason, public policy & government affairs representative from Google; Crystal Patterson, government & politics outreach manager for Facebook; and Aaron Saunders, founder & CEO of Clearly Innovative.
The panelists shared their own experiences in tech and offered advice to those seeking technology careers. Aaron Saunders offered advice on how to get on and stay on a technology career path. “Force yourself to learn,” he said during the panel.
The panel is part of the CBC’s CBC Tech 2020 initiative. The goal of the initiative is to have stakeholders, nonprofits, and tech companies publish a diversity and inclusion plan that would consist of short and long-term solutions to ensure African American representation in tech and non-tech jobs. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 1.4 million new tech jobs, and that 70% of those jobs will be unfulfilled due to a shortage of workers with the necessary technology skills.
The CBC Tech 2020 focuses on four main issues: Transparency, by urging tech companies to release their diversity numbers annually and set goals for African American inclusion; education and training in STEM for both technical and non-technical jobs in the tech industry; corporate responsibility and investment by advising companies to engage in philanthropic and human capital investment in underserved communities; and on hiring and retention by urging business to hire from HBCUs, pipeline programs, and diversity organizations.