Equipping the Next Generation of Underrepresented Talent for a Career in Tech


“I just never saw myself in tech.”

This is what I heard during my discussion with the first cohort of Ĵý’s , a program that helps equip underrepresented and underserved groups for a career in the tech industry through participation in a free Ĵý Certification course.

How could it be that in a time when companies need to find talent quickly to fill the need for technically skilled roles – a need that is becoming more urgent by the day – there is an entire population of determined, driven people who feel as though they do not belong in the tech industry?

The Current State of Diversity in Technology

The numbers speak volumes: only . Only 3% of those jobs are held by Black women and 1% are held by Latina women. For me, it has always been impossible to ignore the lack of representation in the tech industry. I am acutely aware of when I am the only woman in the room – let alone the only Black woman.

But this is changing. Companies have begun implementing diversity-forward hiring practices to try to minimize barriers for populations that have historically been overlooked. The percentage of rose from 56% in 2016 to 88% in 2021. Though there is now targeted backlash, numerous employers remain committed to their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) goals for the workforce.

These initiatives have proven to be important to younger generations. In a few years, millennials and Gen Z will make up the majority of our workforce – and they want to work for companies that align with their values. A 2022 survey from the found that 76% of recent graduates indicated that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts were “very important” or “extremely important” when considering their future employers.

Helping Underserved Groups Break into Tech

Accelerate your career with our digital skills initiative

If we want diverse workforces, we must support and create targeted channels to source diverse talent. It is imperative that these groups – including women, people of color, veterans, and others – are given the resources to excel in high tech. I have seen firsthand how our digital skills initiative is making an impact on individuals and their communities, working to ensure that talent from all backgrounds can participate in this exciting era of technological innovation. At Ĵý, we offer training on products like and , whether through programs like the digital skills initiative or on , helping anyone interested in jump-starting their career in tech. 

Without diverse perspectives, we leave out too many pieces of the puzzle to see the big picture. This deficit is particularly obvious in technology, given its influence on everything from how we shop to how we govern. It is unsustainable to expect lasting market viability from products that are developed by and marketed to one type of person. Put simply, employing diverse talent is essential to long-term success.

How Companies Can Recruit Diverse Talent

For companies that are looking for the next pool of employees to solve today’s business challenges, it is time to consider non-traditional avenues of talent, like graduates from Ĵý’s digital skills initiative. Each cohort comes equipped with Ĵý Certification, self-motivation, and a strong work ethic. This is a special opportunity to pull from a curated group of strong candidates, not just because of their new skills but because of demonstrated curiosity and drive that is not easy to find.

Ĵý makes these trained and certified candidates available to recruiters at no charge. Want to get access to Ĵý-certified, ready-to-hire talent? Interested in adopting a cohort? to see how you can start hiring and get involved.

Register for the Digital Skills Initiative as a Participant

If you are interested in expanding your career opportunities by learning in-demand skills and achieving an Ĵý Certification free of charge, apply for the digital skills initiative using the . This is a fantastic opportunity for those who want to make a career switch to tech.

To those who never pictured themselves in the tech industry, picture it. There is a place for you. Take this as a sign to invest in yourself and create a new path to success. 

Making an Impact on Future Generations

When I talked with this first cohort of the digital skills initiative, I saw how they take great pride in their certification. For some, these new skills will prove to be life-changing.

My goal is to support initiatives that aim to ensure that everyone, from all backgrounds, can pursue their interests in finding a career in tech. When we leave these doors closed, we not only rob those shut out of the opportunity, but all of us from the creativity, perspectives, and outcomes they could deliver.

I am incredibly proud of Ĵý’s work in empowering people to pursue a career in technology. I believe that we are developing the future of innovation through programs like the digital skills initiative, and I cannot wait to see how similar programs will evolve in the future.

If you are an NGO, university, or an Ĵý partner or customer, contact us at partners.digitalskills@sap.com to learn more. If you are interested in applying to the digital skills initiative, to start your journey.

Etosha Thurman is chief marketing and solutions officer for Intelligent Spend and Business Network at Ĵý.

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