The Challenge That Will Make or Break Tech & How Dell is Building Tomorrow’s Workforce

Our technology’s latest speeds, feeds and features may generate a lot of excitement and attention, but what gets us most excited to go to work each day is how our technology drives human progress.

From dairy farmers in India to cancer researchers in Arizona, our customers bring a diverse set of perspectives to the business problems they’re trying to solve. To address customers’ needs, the technology industry must solve a major business problem of its own: a looming talent shortage.

By 2024 in the U.S., there will only be enough students graduating with computing bachelor’s degrees to fill 45 percent of the projected 1.1 million computer-related job openings.

To close this gap, we must attract and retain more technology workers. And we can’t do that without bringing in more talent from underrepresented groups including women, African Americans, Latinxs, people who’ve pursued nontechnical majors or career paths, and those who’ve taken time off from work. Only 36 percent of U.S. technology industry employees are women, only 7 percent are African American and only 8 percent are Latinx. Closing the diversity gap is critical to meeting market demand and innovating solutions that reflect our global customer base. And it’s critical to closing societal wealth gaps, as the national average wage for all STEM occupations is $87,570, compared to $45,700 for non-STEM occupations.

At Dell Technologies, we believe a diverse workforce is a critical part of our business success and how we make a social impact. We’re investing in education and training programs at all levels—from K-12 students to professionals—to bring underrepresented talent into the workforce of the future.

Our work must start early

New research by Accenture and Girls Who Code found that more than 69 percent of the growth in the female computing pipeline would come from changing the path of the youngest girls—especially those in junior high school. However, that intervention must be sustained: A Microsoft study found that young girls in Europe become interested in so-called STEM subjects around the age of 11 and then quickly lose interest when they’re 15. “Conformity to social expectations, gender stereotypes, gender roles and lack of role models continue to channel girls’ career choices away from STEM fields,” said psychology professor Martin Bauer of the London School of Economics, who helped coordinate the survey of 11,500 girls across 12 European countries.

Dell Technologies’ Youth Learning programs have provided 2.6 million underserved K-12 students with access to high-quality technology education. We collaborate with partners including Girls Who Code, which is building a pipeline of young women to work in computing, and CSforALL, which aims to bring computer science education to all of the country’s school districts.

Getting real about where we need improvement

Industrywide problems require industrywide solutions. That’s why we’re a founding member of Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, a Melinda Gates initiative to double the number of black, Latina and Native American women graduating with computer degrees by 2025. Twelve tech companies—including Dell Technologies and our fellow Reboot founders Intel, Microsoft, Adobe, Oath and Salesforce—have committed a collective $12 million toward this goal, and new members continue to join. In addition, this coalition will work together to leverage best practices from our companies’ women’s leadership development programs to create an ecosystem that enables women of color to excel in tech.

Beyond investment to create the curriculum that matters

Through our new Project Immersion program, we are partnering with select historically black college & universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs) to develop curriculum that cultivates the skills diverse students need to succeed in today’s tech industry. Our inaugural spring semester classes began in January 2019.  We have served more than 100 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students at The University of Texas at Austin and three HBCUs in Atlanta: Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University. We brought in teachers from across Dell Technologies to teach subjects like cloud infrastructure (Pivotal) and cybersecurity (SecureWorks). Dell Technologies’ Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Brian K. Reaves, led a session to provide perspectives from the C-suite on the critical business acumen skills required of future leaders in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And our employee resource group members from the local chapter of Black Networking Alliance (BNA) helped guide the technical workshops.

“This program is personally meaningful to me because as a computer science major, I am interested in cybersecurity, but am still learning about what it actually entails,” said Yvonne Akuamoah, a Project Immersion student at Morehouse College. “My institution doesn’t offer any cybersecurity course, so this was my first real exposure to the field.”

We held a roundtable with HBCU students and faculty to gain insights into how we can continue to attract and retain underrepresented talent in STEM. Additionally, we are scaling Project Immersion to other universities, starting with Georgia State University, one of the most diverse universities in the nation and physical hub for the Georgia FinTech Academy. We are also exploring opportunities to partner with additional HBCUs/MSIs to offer the program online.

Helping non-IT pros make the switch

Career changes are common in today’s dynamic workplace, and we want to help more professionals pivot their careers to tech. Northeastern University’s ALIGN program serves women and underrepresented minorities from non-IT fields who are pursuing master’s degrees in computer science.

Through our partnership, we have provided five Dell ALIGN Scholars with financial support and future co-op positions at Dell Technologies. We aim to double our reach this year, and are working with other companies and universities to expand ALIGN around the U.S.

“This program encourages me to believe that I am able to learn a completely new topic at whatever age, no matter how difficult it may seem,” said Bethsaira DeOliveira, Dell ALIGN Scholar. “It is very empowering to be taught the specific skills needed to enter a complete new and different field of study—computer science.”

It’s never too late to restart your career

Building a diverse team isn’t just about recruitment; it’s also about retention. Especially of women, as they leave the technology industry at a 45 percent higher rate than men. Through Dell Career ReStart, we offer professionals a smooth transition to working at Dell Technologies after they’ve left the workforce for a year or more. Their reasons for leaving might include starting a family, caring for an aging parent or leaving to pursue higher education. ReStart provides an unprecedented level of support spanning resume and interview coaching, mentorship and training.

Windie Darrington, a ReStart participant working in project management at Dell Technologies, said, “I left my previous career to raise my two beautiful children and returned to the workforce when they started school. It feels amazing to be valued, supported and provided resources and mentors to grow my career and better myself in my personal life. I have never felt like this is just a ‘job.’ It is a true testament to my new career when my children brag about ‘mom’s work’!”

Making a measurable impact on technology’s talent shortage will require many collaborative solutions—no single program can solve this issue. We look forward to working with our partners to expand our programs and help them thrive.

Learn more about how Dell Technologies cultivates inclusion, here.

About the Author: Nitcelle Emanuels

Global Diversity & Inclusion Director at Dell, Nitcelle B. Emanuels is the leader of global STEM entry and re-entry strategies. She is responsible for key inclusion initiatives, Project Immersion, Dell’s STEM partnership with Historically Black Colleges & Universities(HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and the Dell ALIGN program, a partnership with Northeastern University to drive systemic change by creating pathways for more women and under-represented talent to pivot in their careers by earning a Masters in Computer Science, Data Science, and Cybersecurity to expand the diverse talent pipeline for the digital enterprise. She is also responsible for driving inclusion and success of Dell’s Career ReStart program in partnership with Talent Acquisition. In addition, Nitcelle supports the P&O organization as a D&I business unit consultant. Prior to joining Dell, Nitcelle B. Emanuels brings 15+ years of progressive experience in HR, Operations and Strategy, and Diverse Talent Development. Her most recent role was a Fellowship in Diversity & Inclusion at SAP Ariba. She also served as Operational Release Readiness Manager for New Innovations, Strategic Program Manager in Sales Enablement, and Learning and Development Consultant for Global Services. She began her career in HR and Talent Development at the UPS global headquarters in Atlanta, GA, where she was instrumental in the development of the UPS Diversity Leadership program. She is a proud alumna of Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources and Policy Development and Masters in Business Administration. In 2019, she was awarded the 40 Under 40 award by Georgia State University. She resides in Austin, Texas, with her ten-year-old daughter and husband.