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Technology Association of Oregon

Making an Impact: How the Oregon Tech Community is Building a Better World

Photo Courtesy of The Technology Association of Oregon

Growing Talent

The benefits of a diverse talent pool are beneficial for all industry sectors, but it gets harder when you are recruiting in one of the most competitive - tech.

As one of the fastest-growing industries in Oregon, technology accounts for roughly 12 percent of statewide wages and is projected to grow by 20 percent over the next decade. Tech jobs are embedded in all sectors, and tech skills are increasingly vital to driving employment. That is why the industry is actively seeking out ways to create a homegrown talent pipeline to cultivate a diverse and inclusive work environment.

From enhancing traditional four-year degree programs to programs that think outside the box and give students real-world skills and a direct path to a good-paying job is becoming more important than ever.

Here are two programs aligning themselves with Oregonian’s mission to turn our state into a serious talent hub as well -- one that embraces innovation, diversity, and inclusion.


Portland Youth Builders

For youth who have not been able to complete high school in a traditional school setting, Portland YouthBuilders (PYB) offers an alternative that includes college preparation, leadership development, and vocational training. The goal of PYB is post-program placement in employment or postsecondary education or training.

Yedhic Arenas came to the program like all of their students - from a low-income household and have either dropped out of high school or need to gain basic academic skills. She was unsure of the next steps towards finding employment and a future career.

In addition to helping Yedhic complete her high school equivalency, PYB provided her career training and wrap around services from Student Advocates and Career Coaches that teach life skills and provide individualized support to students in stabilizing their lives and developing viable long-term educational and career goals. The curriculum integrates college preparation instruction with experiential learning and skill development that occurs at the construction and technology job sites.

While enrolled in the program Yedhic found herself excelling in all areas of the technology program. “I found the work challenging and exciting,” she says, “from general IT and networking to Robotics and HTML, I wanted to discover it all. And I found that I was good at it too.”

After passing her CompTIA IT Fundamentals certification test, Yedhic was promoted to Job Lead for the technology worksite where she was able to develop her leadership skills teaching the Smartphones for Seniors class with MetroEast Community Media and Senior Computer Safety series at Northwest Housing Alternatives. And six months into the service portion of the program Yedhic was awarded an internship with another program, HomeForward, and was able to immediately apply her skills in their IT department.

While working with PYB Yedhic has also made plans for the future, and is starting her career path by studying cybersecurity at Mount Hood Community College.


Alchemy Code Lab

How and where we get our start makes a difference. Alchemy Code Lab believes that training people for the beginnings of a career in tech should be about far more than mere knowledge acquisition, and it should establish a launchpad into something much more promising than an internship.

Alchemy Code Lab partners with businesses that aim to hire team members who strive for intellectually stimulating, challenging -- and most important -- meaningful work. Preparing students for tech industry roles with purpose requires an entirely new approach to learning. That means an emphasis on solid engineering processes and an abundance of real-world development practice within a simulated workday environment. This approach enables grads to enter the workforce at a level that is equivalent to others with one to three years of industry experience, allowing them to take full advantage of the demand for tech talent. 

This immersive formula pays off. Typically, the school’s graduates get their start in the tech field with better-paying jobs that allow them to make tangible contributions. And employers have the assurance that Alchemy grads will need less training to get up to speed.

Establishing a career trajectory that propels graduates beyond the apprenticeship phase has a discernible impact on diversifying Portland’s tech talent pipeline. And Alchemy has directly invested in people from diverse backgrounds by awarding over $450,000 in scholarships over the past two years.