This week, GFT announced that it is entering a partnership with Code to Work, a New York nonprofit organization. We’ve asked Sonia Whang, Head of Business Development, Capital Markets for GFT US, to tell us more about this initiative.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Sonia. First, can you tell us a bit about Code to Work?
Sonia Whang: Code to Work is a new nonprofit whose mission is to close the IT skills gap by sourcing and prequalifying diverse technical talent from nontraditional sources for large companies.
How did you get introduced to the organization?
Sonia Whang: Companies in NYC have been reporting a ‘tech shortage,’ pointing to the challenges that they have in finding entry-level IT talent. However, when you look at the numbers, this supposed shortage doesn’t add up; college enrollment rates have increased steadily, the number of institutions offering technical training and computer science degrees are on the rise, and more schools are offering alternative and distance-learning programs to help make education more accessible for a wider group of students.
Unfortunately, many large companies overlook this vast pool of qualified job candidates because their credentials are not from elite schools; as a result, the firms are having a difficult time filling entry-level technical positions. Code to Work approaches the opportunity from a demand perspective, working with companies to understand their hiring needs and skills gap, and then helping find qualified students to fill these roles. Additionally, by casting a wide net to “non-traditional” sources of talent, the diversity of the pool increases with many more candidates from underrepresented groups in IT.
How did you meet and decide to work with Barbara Chang, the founder of Code to Work?
Sonia Whang: I’ve known Barb for several years through her involvement and leadership with other well-known national IT non-profits. People who know Barb can attest that she is exuberant and cares deeply about making positive impact within communities; GFT wants to be a part of this force!
Partnering with the Code to Work team is an honor. We can create change and opportunities together at the individual, university, company, and broader NYC community levels. The GFT team is excited to be an active participant in supporting Code to Work’s mission.
Sonia Whang: This partnership is exciting for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, GFT values our local community and is thrilled for the opportunity to help NYC firms and students connect with each other. We are already working with the University of Waterloo’s co-op education program, an initiative that allows current college students to get invaluable work experience through immersive internships at our NYC office; by partnering with Code to Work, we further expand our ties with the education community locally. Secondly, our participation with Code to Work will offer our employees the opportunity to participate in rewarding activities, such as providing mentorship for students and helping develop modern and highly relevant technical assessments. Of course, we also benefit by having access to this untapped talent pipeline to fill our own entry-level positions. For Code to Work, the partnership offers the opportunity to benefit from GFT’s highly experienced sector specialists and our close relationships with New York’s largest financial institutions.
The challenges that are being taken on are priorities for the entire country; today, there are over half a million unfilled IT and tech jobs in the U.S., and both the White House and New York City’s Mayor De Blasio have rolled out initiatives to try to close this gap. In addition to helping firms fill their open positions, Code to Work hopes to help schools better tailor their programs to meet the needs of today’s technical landscape. Through this partnership, we are honored to help guide the future of America’s higher education and ensure a growing and more inclusive business community.