Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) continues to support the TechTown Diversity Pledge and is proud of its member companies that provide underrepresented groups opportunities for career advancement in tech.
Recently, Portland-based coding academy Treehouse launched TalentPath, a program that pairs tech companies with underrepresented minority groups during three-month apprenticeships. Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson launched this initiative to show people of color and women that there are available jobs in tech for them and means by which to learn code.
“This really started as a passion project of mine, rooted from deeply caring about social justice,” explains Carson. “It turns out the pilot program in Portland was successful and scalable and we realized we could plug this into any company so we’re rolling it out nationally.”
The apprenticeship is open to individuals regardless of whether they have studied computer science or obtained a college degree. After three months of 40-hour weeks learning the nuances of website design or web/mobile development, students are then converted to full-time status, beginning with $55k salaries. After three to five years, yearly earnings can increase upwards of $70-90k. Nike and Vision are each set to hire two apprentices next month and Treehouse is also adding one TalentPath graduate to its team.
Carson envisions TalentPath graduating a class of ten apprentices and placing them at one company. Treehouse continues working with those technical organizations to ensure they are equipped to work with and mentor their diverse talent by providing comprehensive equity, diversity and inclusion training. Carson adds that these mentors are likely to be white and/or male, so this workshop is imperative to ensure apprentices and superiors can form strong working relationships.
“We need more companies to choose to invest in creating diverse talent,” says Carson. “Right now, companies are trying to hire blacks, latinos, or women, but the problem is there isn’t any new talent being created because the enrollment of computer science folks who are underrepresented is going down. We’re not creating net new talent here unless companies invest in a program like this. We really need the technology companies of Oregon to hire apprentices instead of hiring computer science degrees or college graduates, which is exciting news and why the program is working.”
Local tech businesses including Nike and InVision are hiring TalentPath apprentices and Mailchimp has installed TalentPath at their Atlanta headquarters. InVision has also expressed interest in hiring more classes of Developers from TalentPath.
Treehouse hopes to partner with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, PDXWIT and Black Girls Who Code to spread the word that there are jobs for their members, and that the tech industry wants to invest in them.
“After working on this issue, especially as a white male with a computer science degree, I learned about the deeper societal issues that are going on,” notes Carson. “I wanted to try and do something direct to see if we could be apart of the solution.