Last week, on March 10, 2016, the Creating IT Futures Foundation, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Lumity hosted a panel discussion, “STEMployment: Addressing Chicago’s Talent Pipeline,” in downtown Chicago. The panel was moderated by Brenda Wilkerson, cluster manager, IT programs at CPS and made up of Fabian Elliott, CEO of Black Tech Mecca; Simon Ibbitt, education account manager with Microsoft; Manika Turnbull, CDO of BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois; Charlotte Johnson, manager at IBM Corporate Citizenship; Florence Hardy, director of the Small Business Development Center at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; and Akari Muhisani, collaboration specialist at Cisco.
Wilkerson kicked things off by noting only nine percent of heads of companies report that their employees have the IT skills their companies need, which lead her to conclude, “Something is broken.” She also noted that the demographics of IT professionals skew toward white men over the age of 25. Toward that end, CITF created the Early College STEM School Internship, powered by the IL Tech Learning Exchange, working with CPS’ Early College STEM Schools to allow high school students to simultaneously secure their diplomas, associate’s degrees and IT industry certifications while gaining industry mentorship and experience. Wilkerson noted last year this program moved 100 high school seniors through summer internships. Two of these interns, Hugo Zamarripa and Damien Medina, joined us that night.
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