The 21st Century job landscape so far has been characterized by the rise in high-tech jobs to support the digital landscape. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there are currently over six million job openings in the United States due to the lack of applicants that possess necessary technical skills. With the increase in this type of job availability and the advent of automation, supporting career and technical education are becoming more important than ever.
Just last week, Google announced its new initiative called “Grow with Google” where it will spend $1 billion in grants to nonprofits who will train American workers and also help to grow American businesses. This announcement came in Pittsburgh, historic for its center as a manufacturing hub, showing its evolution into a major tech hub in the rust belt.
The billion dollars in grants will mainly support high-tech jobs in an effort to train workers to meet the skill requirements necessary to fill open jobs. The largest of these grants will be going to Goodwill to help launch Goodwill’s Digital Career Accelerator which will aim to equip more than one million people with digital and technical skills to meet the demands of today’s digital marketplace.
The demand for high-tech skilled workers has spurred more private companies to invest in career and technical education than just Google. To name a few, IBM offers classes and training programs in data analytics, IT security, cloud-computing, coding, and many more skills. Adobe Education also offers similar training courses, workshops, and teaching materials in the creative tech space.
Grow with Google would also enable people from lower economic backgrounds to have more equitable access to technical education. It also would enable young people to have as much access to technical education in K-12 schools as what would be available in a high-tech university, thus building a pipeline of skilled workers. Google hopes that with this investment, it will be able to help fill the 6 million worker gap along with growing jobs in robotics and automation.
Policymakers also understand the importance of technical education. Last week, a group of 59 senators wrote a letter supporting the reauthorization and full funding of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act which would provide federal grants to the states to assist them in administering education and training programs. SIIA also supports this investment in career and technical education. As SIIA wrote in an issue brief, the increase in artificial intelligence and automation technology will also create more jobs that need to be filled by workers who have high-tech skills. Investment in training programs and continuing education to fill jobs in coding, analytics, and cloud computing is necessary for the current and future digital environment to thrive as the evolution of work continues to evolve.