Joint Venture’s 2002 Workforce Study: Connecting Today’s Youth with Tomorrow’s Technology Careers identiﬁed several challenges the region faces in preparing its young people for the types of high-tech occupations that are predicted to drive future job growth in the Valley. Among the key challenges were increasing young people’s understanding of and interest in tech- nology careers, and connecting a broader population of students including more young women and minority students with career opportunities, information and guidance.
To gather broad public input on how Silicon Valley might address these challenges, Joint Venture and the region’s Workforce Investment Boards held three community forums across the Valley during spring 2002. Participants identiﬁed various organizations and programs that work to connect youth with technology careers and technical skills, and indicated that many programs have experienced success. Forum participants also highlighted several areas that the region needs to explore to more effectively prepare young people for future careers:
- Young people need to be provided with more information on the nature of technology professions.
- Additional opportunities to integrate technology and project-based learning into academic curricula should be identiﬁed.
- Improved coordination is needed among the various parties involved in preparing young people for future careers.
- Young women and minority students should be better directed toward preparation for technology careers.
- Parental involvement in educating students about technology and careers should be enhanced.
- There must be a greater commitment of resources for preparing young people for technology careers.
- Tracking and assessment of training and career preparation programs should be improved.
Participants at the forums identiﬁed various strategies by which the region might move forward on these areas: increased business participation and investment in school-based programs; increased information-sharing among businesses, schools, public agencies and non- proﬁt service providers; increased funding for teacher training; increased support for career counseling for youth; a greater emphasis on project-based learning opportunities for young people; increased mentoring programs for and outreach to young women and minority students; and new programs designed to teach parents about technology and related careers.
Based on the discussions at the forums, Joint Venture has identiﬁed several other actions that might be undertaken by the region as “next steps” in advancing the solutions highlighted by forum participants. This set of potential actions is not meant to be pre- scriptive, but rather is intended as a menu of options for how our community might follow up on the insights shared at the forums. These actions include:
- initiating a regional discussion on how to create a “cultural shift” in perceptions of technology careers and technical skills;
- exploring the creation of a communications strategy to increase youth knowledge of high-tech careers and build public awareness of the issue;
- convening stakeholders to discuss strategies targeted to young women and minorities;
- gathering additional information on school resource needs and strategies for meeting them;
- convening the various stakeholders to discuss strategies for expanding—and increasing the impact of parental involvement in young people’s education and career preparation; and 6. developing a plan for improving evaluation of programs that prepare youth for the workforce.
Wherever possible, these actions should be coordinated so as to maximize their combined regional impact.