Participants sought for TechPoint, InnoPower and Sagamore Institute effort to help Blacks in central Indiana get into and succeed in tech careers
A $300,000 grant from the Indianapolis Urban League could be a “game-changer” for Indiana’s effort to inclusively grow the state’s tech workforce.
Awarded through the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative (IAAQLI) to TechPoint, InnoPower and Sagamore Institute, the funding will be used to create and market a tech-focused, adult apprenticeship program for low-income, central Indiana Black men and women.
“We see adult apprenticeship as the most effective way to deploy these dollars,” said TechPoint Senior Vice President, Talent, Strategy, and Partnerships Dennis Trinkle. “Now, we need companies to step up and take advantage of this game-changing opportunity for everyone involved.”
The program is the second initiative born of a partnership between TechPoint and InnoPower, a community development organization that works to accelerate upward mobility opportunities for Black Hoosiers. The two have already partnered to gather insights from Hoosier Black communities about how best to provide pathways to tech careers.
Founder and CEO Emil Ekiyor said there are “countless” people within the Hoosier Black community who have the ability to succeed in tech careers. Many of them don’t, however, have the resources or relationships to access them, he said.
Companies that take part will “open the door to opportunities that can create generational change while helping to fill some of their most-needed roles right away and for years to come,” he said.
Through the program, companies will hire apprentices and provide on-the-job training and educational opportunities to help them enter into and grow their tech careers. Typically, the program would cost $13,000 per person for employers. IAAQLI funding will subsidize half of that cost. Employers may be eligible for an additional $5,000 per person subsidy through the Indiana Employer Training Grants program.
Teresa Lubbers, Sagamore Institute President, which serves as InnoPower’s fiscal agent and operating partner, said the state’s current economic climate demands creative solutions. For every tech job filled today, there are 11 more open. Lowering the training cost and making more employers aware of this talent pool should make the program more attractive, she said.
“Apprenticeships are a long-proven strategy to build a pipeline of talent and the return on investment has a huge ripple effect with each success inspiring more people to participate,” Lubbers said. “Having to invest in training can make employers hesitate. By reducing some of the risk we can get more employers involved and prove the talent in central Indiana’s Black community.”
The program aligns perfectly with TechPoint’s Mission41K effort. TechPoint, the industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s digital innovation economy and overall tech ecosystem, launched the mission last year. It seeks to inclusively add 41,000 new tech workers to the state by 2030 by expanding traditional and developing new pathways for Hoosiers to enter the tech sector. It prioritizes skills-based hiring, provides more inclusive pathways into tech roles for significantly more people, and puts a focus on apprenticeships as a viable path to a successful and lucrative career in tech.
TechPoint launched Mission41K last year and has been working with partners throughout the state as it seeks to overcome population decreases, Baby Boomer retirements and deficits in young tech talent retention in a multi-pronged approach designed to bring more people from underrepresented demographics – people of color and women – in to the rapidly growing tech sector.
The IAAQLI is a comprehensive effort funded by a $100 million Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant to build collaborations and partnerships to elevate the quality of life of African Americans in Indianapolis/Marion County.
Tech jobs offer high salaries, stability and strong advancement pathways. Despite recent efforts to increase diversity throughout the industry, tech in Indiana and throughout the U.S. remains predominantly white and male. For example, research shows Black workers comprise just seven percent of the Indiana tech workforce, while making up 10 percent of the overall Indiana workforce. Only 5 percent of the software developers in Central Indiana are Black.
Indiana’s tech workforce has grown by 16.3 percent over the past decade, a 60 percent faster growth rate than seen across other sectors. More than 184,000 Hoosiers now work in tech and tech-enabled roles, filling one out of every 10 jobs in Indiana. For every 10,000 new tech workers added to the Indiana workforce, $698 million in new annual wages are generated and $56.9 million in state and local tax revenues are gained, per TechPoint’s 2023 Workforce Report.