All my adult life has been spent “doing” things.
When I was a carpenter, I used my hands to build houses. At the end of the day I could stand back (and often on top of things I built) and see the physical manifestations of my effort. The feedback on my work was immediate. Things either fit together like they were supposed to, or they didn’t; walls were plumb or not; the pipes leaked, or they didn’t. While there was room for a variety of opinion or taste – “I like the design of the house” or, “I’m not happy with the windows” – when all was said and done, I had clear and tangible metrics on how I was doing.
For the past twenty years I worked as a teacher. While much of my work was not easily measurable, like counseling a 9th grader or reassuring a parent, there were still many ways to see how I was doing. In-class assessments, parent/teacher conferences, as well as portfolio reviews of my work and that of my students. These were all clear metrics that provided me with tangible feedback.
So here I am running a think tank, the Center for Technology & Workforce Solutions. And the question for me now is, how do I know whether I am achieving results? Yes, the Center produces papers, posts thoughtful articles, and convenes thought leaders but, to what end? For me, the questions are, who am I helping and is my work of value? And how do I measure it?
Our mission at the Center is to get more people into and retained in tech and tech enabled careers, do so with equity, and to prepare folks for the jobs of the future. Are we achieving those goals? A think tank is supposed to study a particular subject and bring together experts to develop ideas and give advice. But the Center strives for more than that. We don’t want to just talk (or write) about change. We want to be a change agent. Through our work, we want to help young people get excited about the opportunities in a tech career; to help transitioning workers move – as I have – from one career to another. We need to help employers see the value in looking at skills rather than looking at just degrees, and the importance of investing in their employees through training and upskilling. And we absolutely must provide women, people of color, and under-served communities with the tools to access, keep, and enjoy a tech career.
Here at the Center, we are starting an ambitious program to map the skills – technical, soft, and foundational – needed for job roles of the near future. We are not satisfied to just think about the tech job issues. We want to do something about these issues in a measurable way. We are building a skills mapping tool to get people into the tech workforce. It is important to us – and vital to the tech industry – that the workforce of tomorrow has clear pathways today.
We are excited about our work and the chance to positively impact so many lives. If you believe, like we do, that talking should lead to doing, then please join us as we work to expand, deepen, strengthen – to transform – the tech workforce. Visit our website, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Most importantly though, come do something – measurable – with us!
David Hyman is the President of the Center for Technology & Workforce Solutions (CTWS). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.