At the rate that Atlanta is going, the majority of job-seeking applicants won’t have the necessary skills to compete in a competitive job market. That’s the issue laid out for a group of tech professionals at Google Atlanta headquarters for a conversation on Race, Education, Tech and the Future of Atlanta.
Dr. Kamau Bobb, founding Senior Director of the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech, detailed research he uncovered showing that Atlanta is geographically segregated between black and white residents. Further research shows that in areas with high Black Atlantan population density, the education system is not equipped for Computer Science (CS) or technological learning. Consequently, with the prevailing emphasis on STEM not only in the education system but in the workforce, many students will not be able to obtain high paying jobs in the tech sector.
One of the attendees at last month’s event was Bryan Cox, the Computer Science Program Specialist for the state of Georgia Department of Education. He has been working to raise the standards for STEM in Georgia so that all students have equal opportunity to learn skills and get a quality education.
“This conversation reminds me that the equality of structure that we are building across the state of Georgia by developing K-12 CS standards and ensuring we develop qualified teachers does not guarantee equity and that we still have a great deal of work to do to make sure that underrepresented students have real opportunities to engage in CS and are not excluded from participation due to structural and social barriers,” said Cox.
Furthermore, even though black and brown students are more susceptible to not being able to compete because they make up the majority in Atlanta Public Schools, it affects white students too. Dr. Bobb’s research discovered that the Asian population is the only group growing exponentially in technology higher institutions.
Consequently, Dr. Bobb’s new job with Google Atlanta is opening a new conversation around how the private sector can handle this issue. Committing to better education means committing to a better workforce where tech talent can thrive.