Tech support

9 Ways to Make the Tech Sector Fairer: New Study Examines Washington State’s Workforce


Washington state’s direct tech employment jumped more than 70% between 2013 and 2019, but workers have not benefited in the same way from the industry’s growth, according to a new report. (Graphic: OneAmerica)

A new report details many inequalities between gender and race in Washington State’s tech workforce, and made a series of recommendations to remedy it.

Among the recommendations: create state-funded worker cooperatives for self-employed and contract workers; the creation of a state start-up fund to support women and people of color in the tech industry; and expanding the state’s tech industry contact orientation and training programs to address equity issues.

The report, Creating Quality Jobs for All in Washington’s Tech Sector, was published by OneAmerica, an immigrant and refugee advocacy organization, and written by our guests in this week’s episode of the GeekWire podcast: Researcher and Consultant Kimberly earles; and Marcus courtney, public affairs consultant specializing in labor issues.

Here is a condensed version of the report’s nine recommendations.

  • Expand the scope of the governor’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector head to include promoting equity, stability and quality jobs across the industry.
  • Create a Washington Innovation start-up fund to incubate the next generation of entrepreneurs for tech products and jobs, targeting and supporting women and BIPOC business leaders for funding. It would be similar to funds in California, Illinois, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Expand the scope of the State Center of Excellence for Information and Computing Technologies to include training for additional career paths, such as project management and technical writing , while expanding support for contract and immigrant workers, as well as women and BIPOC workers.
  • Launch state-funded worker cooperatives that self-employed and contract workers could join to provide services to the tech sector, providing workers with a more stable and fairer employment relationship with industry employers.
  • Convene a BIPOC technology summit, as well as regional workforce development councils, to identify structural barriers and solutions led by and centered on people of color.
  • Institute an annual State of Technology and Technological Workforce Report that would produce detailed information on the number of workers in the state, including independent contractors, recruiting agency contractors, and workers H -1B, and address the state of diversity within the tech industry.
  • Invest in institutions responsible for identifying and supporting immigrants and refugees with foreign credentials to apply those credentials to the workforce in Washington State.
  • Create state and regional liaison positions to create and strengthen networking opportunities between tech companies and social service organizations working with immigrants and refugees with tech credentials.
  • Invest in strategies to connect low-income community members (youth and adults) with skills useful for the tech sector, including boot camp programming, and ensure that these programs include strategies solid for language access and cultural orientation.

Lily a summary of the report here, and tune in to the episode above to hear Earles and Courtney discuss the findings and recommendations.

Audio production and editing by Curt Milton; Musical theme by Daniel LK Caldwell.


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