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GDI News

Winter 2002 Issue # 1
 
Crossing the Digital Divide to Digital Economic Opportunity

Front Page

During the last year, GDI staff and colleagues within EDC's Center for Education, Employment, and Community have helped focus the national discussion on opening up the IT pipeline to a wider array of workers. GDI director Katherine Hanson and Joyce Malyn-Smith, director of a number of IT projects within CEEC, were both invited to participate with the National Policy Association's (NPA) national fact-finding study.

In our emerging "information society" where what we earn depends on what we learn, access to technology and training in the skills to use it is a critical component of economic survival. But closing the gap is not a problem that government can tackle alone: businesses, unions and nonprofit organizations will have to do their part. The most effective way to reduce these disparities is to pay more attention to the improvement of the education and training of the existing workforce. Concerns about the high cost of employee turnover, labor shortages, and increasing numbers of baby boom retirements are incentives for growing numbers of employers to get involved in workforce development efforts. Employers are now facing a shortage of skilled workers who are no longer easily replaced. This is encouraging businesses to train people they previously overlooked.

The National Policy Association (NPA) has convened an 18-month project to determine how best to address this issue. "Crossing the Digital Divide to Digital Economic Opportunity" is taking a hard look at the various challenges facing women and people of color within the emerging IT workforce. Through a series of regional and local meetings, the NPA is gathering information, examples, success stories, and challenges from individuals and organizations around the country. The results of these are compiled into a series of reports with recommendations that will help move the national agenda ahead.

In June, Ms. Malyn-Smith participated in the first session, held in Boston. Her presentation of the Pathway Pipeline Model of IT helped define the issue. In December Ms. Hanson facilitated a panel on women and minorities in IT as part of the second session, held in Kansas City, Missouri.

The National Policy Association was founded in 1934 by distinguished business and labor leaders who believed that the private sector should actively participate in the formulation of public policy. Since its foundation, NPA's goal has been to seek common ground on effective and innovative strategies that address a range of cutting-edge issues of vital significance to the security and prosperity of America. This newest initiative promises to have significant impact on our future planning and policy. For more information on this project click here.

 

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