The New York City Mayor’s office created the Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP)—a partnership between city government, the tech industry, and educational institutions—to create and sustain a qualified tech workforce and a vibrant tech industry in the city. The initiative involves hundreds of stakeholders in a massive coordination effort to ensure that everything that supports hiring—education, training, and recruitment practices, but also economic and job data—are aligned with what businesses actually need. Leading a network of more than 275 companies, TTP’s Advisory Board comprises 28 senior executives representing the city's top tech employers, including LinkedIn, Verizon, and Facebook. TTP also includes an Academic Council with 17 post-secondary institutions that have pledged to further develop pathways for residents to careers in technology.
As industries and economies become more complex, fast-changing and globally connected, many residents are getting left behind. City governments need to update their economic development, with nimble strategies and broad partnerships to attract and support employers, develop local talent and ensure equitable access to opportunities.
How’d They Do It?
In New York, the tech industry has consistently grown faster than any other sector since 2010, adding more than 57,000 jobs since the end of the Great Recession. But this growth has opened a big gap between labor supply and demand. Companies are struggling to find enough qualified workers, and students and workers are struggling to figure out what skills they should build for the jobs available now, let alone jobs that will appear in two or three years.
Private job boards are working to solve the match-making problem, but that doesn’t address the educational pipeline needed to produce the right job candidates. Government is in a unique position to designate priority sectors and convene and steer the relevant actors, in order to boost momentum and scale opportunities.
Toward that end, the Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP) was created as a small entrepreneurial outfit in the New York City government, with four staff members. Its goal is to ensure that people are connecting with tech jobs. This involves aligning education and training with actual industry demand, but also distributing job opportunities across the city’s boroughs and looking at infrastructure. The Pipeline is tasked with working across systems and primarily with existing resources; the Advisory Board and staff serve as a brain trust to guide a program that others will implement.
How’s It Going?
- Early on, TTP heard that government economic statistics are too slow and broad to be useful for nimble decision-making (e.g. software engineering is growing, but what kind of engineering?.) So they partnered with LinkedIn to map and match skills and make better information available.
- TTP heard from employers about shortcomings in the education system—not enough trained graduates, and training that is too theoretical. So academic and industry partners created CUNY 2X Tech, an initiative to double the number of students in the city’s public university system (CUNY) graduating with tech-related degrees. Students gain access to industry-aligned education, mentorship, and internship opportunities with local companies to prepare them to seamlessly transition into local tech jobs. And there are other TTP programs that provide a pathway into high-paying jobs that do not require a degree.
- As of 2018, TTP had established partnerships with over 275 companies including Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Spotify, establishing programs with 17 local colleges.
- In addition to TTP’s own inclusion efforts, it engages with complementary initiatives. In 2018, CUNY and Cornell Tech’s Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York program partnered with the city on a two-week “Winternship” program that created 200 paid internships for young college women in tech fields, to give them a leg up in getting summer internships.
- High-Level Engagement. The Mayor’s Office is deeply invested in the TTP and passionate about its success. This show of political will brings the potential for greater visibility and effectiveness. However, being closely associated with a particular official or administration can also politicize a program and threaten its long-term sustainability.