Data-based policy recommendations for a more equitable NYC:
The fast-growing technology sector represents one of the best opportunities for New Yorkers from low-income backgrounds to springboard into the middle class. But too many New Yorkers from low-income communities lack the required early exposure, hands-on skills, and educational credentials needed to compete for these jobs.
To create a tech sector that reflects the diversity of New York while greatly expanding access to economic opportunity, city leaders will need to set ambitious goals and commit to a bold and long-term agenda to expand and improve the tech skills-building ecosystem—starting with investments in the K–12 education system, where policymakers can have the greatest impact.
The following is a brief summary of recommendations for policymakers, educators, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and the private sector. The full recommendations are accessible here.
Make a significant new public investment in expanding and improving New York City’s tech education and training ecosystem
New York City has taken some vital steps toward expanding access to technology careers, including the launch of CS4AllNYC and the Tech Talent Pipeline. But as our research shows, opportunity gaps and inequities persist in the tech skills-building ecosystem—and the city still has a long way to go. New York City should make a significant new public investment to grow and strengthen the tech skills-building ecosystem, allocating funding to expand in-school computing education to every public school beginning in kindergarten; close geographic gaps by funding and scaling in-school STEM enrichment and tech workforce training programs in underserved communities; and invest in intensive, career-aligned tech training models for working adults that lead to employment in the sector. An investment of $50 million—leveraged against additional private funding—would allow the city to strengthen crucial initiatives like CS4All and the Tech Talent Pipeline, while allocating additional resources to reach more New Yorkers with computing education programs, close geographic gaps, and scale up effective adult workforce programs.
Set clear and ambitious goals to greatly expand the pipeline of New Yorkers into technology careers
The mayor and City Council should create a unified set of goals and benchmarks ensuring that every student has in-school access to computational thinking and computing education beginning in kindergarten by 2025; expanding in-depth tech workforce training programs to reach at least 5,000 low-income New Yorkers annually by 2025, up from just a few hundred today; and, along with New York State, tripling the number of CUNY students who earn postsecondary STEM degrees and credentials each year by 2030.
Prioritize long-term investments in K–12 computing education
If city leaders do just one thing to expand access and build equity in the city’s growing tech sector, our research suggests the most effective use of resources is a long-term investment in expanding and improving K–12 computing education. While New Yorkers of all ages can benefit from tech skills-building initiatives, this report finds that long-term investments in computing education are essential in order to tackle the city’s persistent opportunity gap at the root. By ensuring that every student has access to effective, age-appropriate computing education—including the core concepts of computational thinking—New York City can greatly expand the pipeline into tech careers by building skills, interests, and confidence from the earliest years of a New Yorker’s life.
- Fully fund and champion the expansion of CS4All to reach every student by 2025.
- Go beyond CS4All to bring computational thinking into every classroom.
- Significantly expand computing education in grades K–5.
- Ensure that teachers at every grade level receive professional development in computing education.
- Launch clear statewide standards for teacher certification and require a recognized credential in computing education for all new teachers by 2025.
Scale up tech training with a focus on programs that develop in-depth, career-ready skills
Although prioritizing K–12 computing education will have the greatest long-term impact on expanding access to technology careers, New York City also needs to make significant near-term investments to ensure that more working adults can train for opportunities that exist today. Seizing these opportunities will require new investments to double or triple the capacity of the specific type of programs that are in short supply today: multi-week, in-depth training programs focused on applied technical skills and real-world career readiness—and informed by specific employer needs—that consistently lead to employment, retention, wage gains, and career advancement. To help more working adults access opportunities in the tech sector, policymakers should focus on scaling up the relatively small number of intensive, in-depth tech training programs that consistently lead to employment in technical occupations and provide opportunities for career advancement.
- Build the pipeline of educators and facilitators serving both K–12 and career readiness efforts.
- Scale up tech training with a focus on programs that develop in-depth, career-ready skills.
- Close the geographic gaps in tech education and skills-building programs.
- New York City’s tech sector should play a larger role in developing, recruiting, and retaining diverse talent.
- Increase access to tech apprenticeships and paid STEM internships through industry partnerships, CS4All, and the city’s current Summer Youth Employment Program.
- Expand efforts to market STEM programs to underrepresented students and their families.
- Develop and fund links from the numerous computer literacy and basic digital skills-building programs to the in-depth programs that can lead to employment.
- Expand the number of bridge programs to provide crucial new on-ramps to further tech education and training for New Yorkers with fundamental skills needs.
- Develop major new supports for the non-tuition costs of adult workforce training