Milken panel explores training youth to meet demand for technology workers

Communities / Article

A recent panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference assembled several thought leaders to discuss connecting youths from “low-opportunity” communities with the demand for technologists in the digital age.

Van Jones, co-founder and president of Rebuild the Dream and former White House environmental adviser, moderated the panel titled “YesWeCode: Training NextGen Technologists. Speakers included Joi Ito, a Knight Foundation trustee and director of the MIT Media Lab; Trabian Shorters, founder and CEO of BMe Community, a Knight Foundation grantee; Mitch Kapor, a partner at Kapor Capital; actor Chris Tucker, founder of the Chris Tucker Foundation; and Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder and exexcutive director of CODE2040.

The thought-provoking panel explored what Jones described as “the skills mismatch” in America, where there are more available jobs in the tech sector than there are people available to fill them, while in other sectors there are too few jobs.

“When you have a technology industry that’s basically based on genius … and you have whole communities full of genius that are not connected that’s a problem for everybody,” Jones said. The panel explores how to “build this pipeline from communities where genius is stranded into places where people know how to scale it and use it,” he said.

Michael D. Bolden is editorial director at Knight Foundation.