Presented by
Protocol's experts on the biggest questions in tech.
Sponsored content

What are the most pressing policies that will help ensure the growth of a talented, diverse workforce in 2021 and beyond?

Tacy Trowbridge

Education Programs Lead at Adobe Inc

Every school should cultivate creative literacy and the mastery of critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills. As a global technology leader building a diverse workforce, Adobe deeply values these competencies among our own workers. We recognize the growing demand for these skills by other private and public employers and the communities they serve. Addressing this workforce need requires meaningful changes to education policies and practices.

Performance-based learning is one of the most effective ways for all students to acquire deep content knowledge and essential skills. It promotes active and engaging learning. It recognizes learning experiences should align with what students will experience after graduation. It supports the use of modern communication, collaboration and creative tools allowing students to maximize their impact.

Adobe is committed to championing performance-based learning policy reforms that: (1) embrace rigorous academic content standards; (2) emphasize skills acquisition; (3) promote balanced assessment systems; (4) provide flexibility to districts and schools with laws and policies that hinder performance-based learning innovations; (5) leverage competency-based approaches that have students demonstrate their progress and achievements; and (6) invest in teachers and school leaders. Progress toward this vision requires supporting education leaders to ensure all students are equipped with the creative capacities and other skills to thrive as lifelong learners.

Lesley Slaton-Brown

Chief Diversity Officer at HP

At HP we have woven diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our company. We believe building a workforce that reflects our customers and communities isn't only the right thing to do—it's also the smart thing to do. Study after study has shown how diversity helps drive innovation and powers a company's performance.

It's why HP has one of the most diverse Boards in the technology industry. Why 63% of our U.S. hires last year came from underrepresented groups. Why we plan to double our number of Black and African American executives by 2025. And why we continue to invest in our partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

But it's not enough to look inward, because companies do not operate in a vacuum. We must also advocate for laws that will deliver structural changes and help foster the growth of a talented and diverse workforce.

To highlight a few, HP is supporting a California bill that will encourage the state to lead the nation in bringing underrepresented communities to corporate boards. We support The Equality Act in the U.S. Congress to help protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. And we are joining with other companies to voice our support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and stand against discriminatory immigration policy changes.

Smart public policies, combined with corporate cultures that truly value diversity and inclusion, will not only create better and stronger companies, but better and stronger societies, as well.

David Steel

Executive Vice President at Samsung Electronics America

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields are central to U.S. competitiveness. To maintain a strong, talented and diverse workforce suitable for these fields, we must ensure all Americans have access to lifelong high quality STEM education. We believe public-private partnership is one of the long-term solutions to educate and prepare a high skilled workforce.

In 2010, Samsung launched Solve for Tomorrow, a nationwide competition that challenges public school students in grades 6-12 to showcase how STEM can be applied to help improve their community. The program works to not only drive interest and proficiency in STEM but also to foster the STEM talent pipeline.

Beyond STEM education, we also need to build lifelong excitement and resilience in STEM careers. Samsung's partnership with the Manufacturing Institute's Heroes MAKE America is helping U.S. service members gain technical skills they need as they transition to civilian jobs in manufacturing, as well as helping them get recognition for the technical skills they have acquired in the military.

To ensure everyone has access to these opportunities, policymakers also need to close the digital divide. Universal broadband will enable American students and workers to access the education needed to meet the demands of the future.

Margot Goodson

Diversity & Inclusion Lead at SAP North America

As the market leader in enterprise software with a global network of customers, partners, and employees, SAP helps the world run better and improve people's lives. Our success comes from embracing diversity both within our customer base and our talent pool. Hiring for the best fit and reflecting society commensurate with Census data is key to ensuring a workforce with different points of view, backgrounds, and working styles.

The most pressing policies to ensure the continued growth of a talented, diverse workforce in 2021 and beyond require more inclusive corporate hiring policies and procedures, governmental funding of our educational and workforce resources, and collective industry investment in innovation for the future. SAP continues to expand educational initiatives to help fill the "STEM gap" through various programs with high schools, postsecondary institutions, local SAP offices, community-based organizations, and other key municipal stakeholders.

Accordingly, we urge Policymakers to focus on:

  • Investment in the next generation of innovators. Promote participation in STEM fields, work to raise educational and teaching standards, alleviate the financial burden of advanced education, invest in faculty readiness programs, and provide much needed technology and tools.
  • Expansion of workforce retraining opportunities. Encourage use of innovative and low-cost approaches with nongovernmental organizations and private sector to reskill or upskill students and professionals via training programs that include certifications and credentials.
  • Enablement of talent mobility and retention. Where talent shortages exist, fill the gap by attracting nontraditional expertise from US and abroad, removing systemic barriers that limit mobility, and leveraging best practices for economic growth.

Steve Haro

Principal at Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas

For nearly three decades, our country has shifted from a manufacturing-dominant economy to one focused on services borne from technological advancement. This shift has proven successful, but has left many behind.

There is collective agreement on the issues that must be taken up to not only compete globally, but to also diversify our workforce (disagreement has come on policy cost and construct):

  • Immigration: talented foreign students and workers come here on a visa and never have the chance to become citizens;
  • Education: current curriculum does not do enough to expose children to the skills needed to get 21st century jobs. This puts low-income and immigrant children, as well as young girls, at a disadvantage; and
  • Digital Infrastructure: too many are without needed, necessary broadband access necessary.

The pandemic has only served to further validate our deficiencies. So what should be done to create a talented, diverse workforce? Many things, really, but here's a start:

  • Immigration: we need to radically modify our Visa system, while at the same time modifying our entire immigration system so that the country can once again be one that builds economic bridges and not walls.
  • Education: We must encourage schools to enact STEM curriculum at a much younger age.
  • Digital Infrastructure: We should invest in the broadband buildout necessary to bring high-speed internet to everyone, everywhere.

This is critical not just because it is right, but because it is necessary if we are to retain our pole position as a global leader in the 21st Century.

Jason Oxman

President and CEO at ITI

We need policies that help Americans learn and work during the pandemic and strengthen the foundations of an innovation-driven, high-tech workforce.

Infrastructure investment that takes on the pervasive digital divide to ensure broadband access nationwide will support students, teachers, and families, opening educational opportunities in remote and undeserved communities.

Investment in early-stage STEM education is key to developing the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs as well as increasing diversity in the science and technology workforce. STEM education must start in elementary and middle school to inspire young learners. And alternative paths to STEM jobs, including community colleges and non-four year degree programs, will reach more diverse student populations.

World class STEM education will attract the best and brightest students from around the world to learn in the U.S. and then create the next great technology companies here. U.S. employer's global competitiveness will benefit from reforms to our immigration system. This is essential to recruiting and retaining highly qualified professionals from overseas to meet immediate hiring needs and ensure the world's entrepreneurs invest and invent in the U.S.

Pro-tech policies create good jobs and raise living standards. Strengthening technology in America will make the economy and society more resilient, creating opportunities for all.

Thanks for reading. Learn more about the Information Technology Industry Council today.