Joint venture intends to produce tech jobs

By Shaqueria Howard
Outlook writer

As much as jobs in the technology field are growing, Blacks and Hispanics still lag behind, surveys have shown.

But there is a move afoot to change that statistic in Tallahassee through a joint effort that includes the City government, Domi Station and FAMU.
The joint venture will give students in FAMU’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program an opportunity to participate in code academy classes. The classes will emphasize input/output, meaning they’ll learn different programming skills.

The partnership was announced during an innovation and industry tour in Nashville, Tenn., where the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce recently visited to see best practices that are spurring recent growth in the city. Technology is driving many of the new jobs in Nashville.

Only 12 percent of Blacks and Hispanics hold jobs nationwide in the science, technology, engineering and math field. But the joint program could help to shift those numbers in Tallahassee, said Ryan Kopinsky, I/O Avenue’s director.

“Hundreds of tech jobs go unfilled every year in Tallahassee,” said Kopinsky. “If we are really going to create a thriving innovation ecosystem, we need to match local talent to local jobs.”

There should be plenty of job opportunities for graduates of the program. There are more than 500 tech jobs in Tallahassee, according to the office of Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Gillum set off the move to create more technology jobs in Tallahassee last year, encouraging businesses to be a part of what he tabbed TechHire. The initiative made Tallahassee one of 50 cities with a TechHire designation.

“As Tallahassee continues to develop a new economy, it is increasingly important that our local workers have the skills necessary to enter the hundreds of high-paying jobs in our tech sector,” said Gillum. “This program will empower and train citizens that are hoping to pursue new career opportunities, while enhancing the local tech talent we have available for the growth of our local businesses.”

Classes will begin this fall and will be in the computer labs at FAMU’s Workforce Computing Center. Keyana Jackson, a construction engineering technology major, could hardly wait for the opportunity.

“It will make it easier to get out there in the STEM field.” She said. “Not only do we have the degree, and the knowledge, we also have the experience that was provided through our university.”
FAMU administrators hope the program will increase the number of students who will be ready for jobs in the tech field.

“FAMU is excited about the skills and opportunities that I/O Avenue will provide to our students and to members of the community,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson. “These engagements make Tallahassee a better community and make FAMU a stronger university.”

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