Digital NYC panelists talk about city’s dire need for tech talents

Last April 2, the Digital NYC Five Borough Tour made its second stop from Queens to Flatiron in Manhattan where there are around 300 startups and 20 co-working spaces.

The panelists consisted of angel investor David Rose of, Bruce Weed of IBM, Jessica Singleton, NYC’s digital director and Eric Geltler of the NY Economic Development Council but this time, a second round of panelists came to join the regular panel to discuss about how to better address the shortage of developers with the right tech education.

As Geltler stressed in the earlier panel, “Tech is integrating every industry.” It’s even more important to equip New Yorkers for a future that may require them to learn about programming, whether it’s for a tech company or any company that will also need to adapt to technology for its business.

Rose said, “Technology is enabling and accelerating every business. In five years, we’re going to see more opportunities for everyone.”

Rose likes to say how New York has come a long way when it had zero infrastructure in the 80s. Now it’s the fastest growing tech city in the world with a fertile eco system. But with all the companies mushrooming in the city, the challenge now is how to fill up jobs in tech.

Jayana Johnson, who majored in broadcasting then took a bootcamp class, is interning in a major publication soon as a web developer. She was part of the second panel that delved on the topic about tech talents, with Kristen Titus of NY Tech Talent Pipeline leading the discussion on tech talents.

Also in the second panel were Hagos Merhreteab of Codecademy and Jake Schwartz, founder and CEO of General Assembly where the meetup was held . Both also shared their thoughts about how vital it is for tech education to continue to evolve, as traditional education is not sufficient.

True enough, Johnson said all she learned in college was outdated. Good thing, she was interested in technology.

Digital NYC is the one-stop shop for all things New York tech. “To find everything in one place is critical,” Weed said, as he offered IBM’s Bluemix and Watson in general for people to explore for their own startup or ideas. Meanwhile, Singleton mentioned Minerva Tantoco, the city’s CTO, as the one in charge of making sure” the tech house is in order.”

Right now, the city needs talent badly but the city doesn’t have enough developers to fill up positions. “Companies are hungry for talent,” Titus said whose goal now is to help New Yorkers get coding and working with bootcamps and other educational institutions to scale tech education.

“As we speak, right now, it’s on fire,” Merhreteab said. He said the city needs coders short term. Long term, he added how some learning needs to happen in kindergarten.

With regard to jobs, Schwartz said the junior person is not hard to find right now. The challenge is the middle—it’s like a dessert (there),”

The city was clearly not prepared that tech would play such a huge role 20 years since Double Click opened shop. Demand has been huge since then, but the recruiting process needs rethinking these days.

“Relying on where you went to school was a shortcut for recruiters,” Merhreteab said.

But it need not be a case anymore, especially with the shortage.

Merhreteab advised new developers to join and contribute to Github, because “the code will speak for itself.”

Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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