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Survey Highlights Barriers and Enablers to Digital Careers for Black Workers

June 16, 2022

At a Glance

JFF survey provides crucial insight into the barriers and enablers to career preparation, entry, and advancement for Black Americans in digital and IT professions.

The fast-growing field of digital and information technology offers tremendous opportunities for economic advancement. But access to these pathways are limited for Black workers and learners, who are underrepresented in the tech workforce because of systemic barriers that are exacerbated by inequitable hiring and training practices.

To further understand these circumstances and identify possible solutions, Jobs for the Future (JFF) released findings from a survey of more than 1,000 Black Americans exploring the challenges facing Black learners and workers in entering and advancing in digital and IT careers. Conducted by consumer research agency AudienceNet, the survey highlights both career barriers and enablers and brings the lived experiences of Black learners and workers into JFF’s efforts to increase racial economic equity.

An article for Protocol highlights the report’s focus on mentorship, specifically citing findings on the efficacy of formal mentoring programs for Black students and workers. Notably, 92 percent of Black workers in formal mentoring programs said the program helped them set new career goals, while 79 percent of Black workers in informal mentoring programs said the same.

In Fair Play Talks, the survey’s findings are tied to JFF’s broader recommendations for promoting the economic advancement of Black Americans in today’s economy.

Philanthropy News Digest also mentions the survey’s insights into discrepancies for Black women, in particular. For example, women responding to the survey were more likely than male respondents to say that they feel as though they don’t have the right skills to enter the tech field, don’t know where to start, or feel like they wouldn’t “fit in.”

In an increasingly tech-driven economy, careers in IT and tech can offer pathways to economic advancement and prosperity. However, too many Black Americans—particularly Black women—face systemic barriers that leave the economic opportunity of the tech industry out of reach. We need to better understand these barriers; which begin in K-12 education and higher education only to be reinforced in the workplace.

Michael Collins, Vice President, Jobs for the Future

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