Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani at ReimagineHR in London (Gartner)
Across a variety of industries, the demand for talent with digital skills continues to outstrip the supply. In recent years, many companies have realized that one way to fill this skills gap is to address the significant gender imbalance in roles like software engineering, where men outnumber women three-to-one in the US and by even larger margins in other countries like the UK and China.
This hasn’t always been the case; women were the first programmers in the early days of computing, before coding was seen as a prestigious and lucrative profession. Yet the real shift toward programming being such a male-dominated profession is even more recent, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani pointed out in a keynote address at Gartner’s ReimagineHR event in London on Wednesday: In 1995, women made up almost 40 percent of the computing workforce in the US, whereas today, they make up less than 25 percent. And at a time when there are roughly 500,000 unfilled positions in computing in the US and as many as 700,000 in the UK, Saujani argued, the issue isn’t a question of gender parity for its own sake: companies need women in tech just as much as women deserve the opportunity to do these jobs.
So why are so few women taking jobs in computing? For one thing, the tech industry has developed a reputation as an unwelcoming work environment for women: Sexism and sexual harassment scandals have emerged at several major tech companies in the past two years, while women in tech say they are often pressured to cut short the leave they take when they start families, even as tech companies continue to offer world-class parental leave policies. To that end, bringing back women who left the workforce to raise children or care for aging relatives is one way companies are looking to close their tech talent gaps.
Yet a more fundamental obstacle, Saujani explained, comes much earlier in women’s lives.
Google and the online learning platform Coursera are launching a five-course machine learning specialization to teach developers how to build machine learning models using the TensorFlow framework, Frederic Lardinois reports at TechCrunch:
The new specialization, called “Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform,” has students build real-world machine learning models. It takes them from setting up their environment to learning how to create and sanitize datasets to writing distributed models in TensorFlow, improving the accuracy of those models and tuning them to find the right parameters.
As Google’s Big Data and Machine Learning Tech Lead Lak Lakshmanan told me, his team heard that students and companies really liked the original machine learning course but wanted an option to dig deeper into the material. Students wanted to know not just how to build a basic model but also how to then use it in production in the cloud, for example, or how to build the data pipeline for it and figure out how to tune the parameters to get better results. …
It’s worth noting that these courses expect that you are already a somewhat competent programmer. While it has gotten much easier to start with machine learning thanks to new frameworks like TensorFlow, this is still an advanced skill.
The new series is a continuation of Google’s longstanding partnership with Coursera, through which the tech giant went public with its internal IT support training curriculum earlier this year.
The Indian IT services and business process outsourcing giant Infosys unveiled plans last week to establish a $245 million, 141-acre campus near Indianapolis, expected to create up to 3,000 jobs in the midwestern state within five years, the Indianapolis Star reported last Thursday. The first phase of the campus, to be built at the site of a demolished Indianapolis International Airport terminal, will entail constructing a 125,000 square-foot training center, including residences, on which Infosys plans to spend $35 million:
The training center is at the heart of Infosys’ larger target of hiring 10,000 people across the U.S., company President Ravi Kumar said. Infosys is working with partner colleges and universities, including Purdue University, to educate students and feed its training center and future workforce. Infosys plans to break ground on the training center this year and complete it by 2020.
“The 10,000 jobs was always with an idea of building talent pool from schools and colleges,” Kumar said. “It always had to be that way. We would never find that kind of talent in the market.”
Infosys, India’s second-largest IT company with over $10 billion in revenue and over 200,000 employees, announced its plan to hire 10,000 US workers last year in the wake of President Donald Trump’s pledges to crack down on outsourcing and the use of the H-1B skilled worker visa, of which Infosys has historically been a major beneficiary. While this looked to some observers like a hedge against the uncertain future of the H-1B and the outsourcing sector, Trump’s policy agenda was not the only motivation for the move, which Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said at the time had been in the works for two years.
Google Hire, the search giant’s recruiting and applicant tracking application, has been updated with a new feature called candidate discovery that is designed to help hiring managers more easily keep track of past candidates who might be good fits for newly open positions, Google announced on its blog last Wednesday. According to the company, the new feature enables managers to:
- Find qualified candidates immediately upon opening a job. The first step in filling a role should be checking who you already know that fits the job criteria. Candidate discovery creates a prioritized list of past candidates based on how their profile matches to the title, job description and location.
- Use a search capability that understands what they are looking for. Candidate discovery understands the intent of what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. It takes a search phrase like “sales manager Bay Area” and immediately understands the skills and experiences relevant to that job title, as well as which cities are part of the Bay Area. That means the search results will include candidates with sales management skills even if their past job titles are not an exact keyword match.
- Easily search by previous interactions with candidates. Hire lets recruiters search and filter based on the previous interactions with the candidate, such as the type of interview feedback they received or whether you extended them an offer before. Candidates with positive feedback will rank higher in search results than those without, and candidates who received an offer in the past but declined it will rank higher than those who were previously rejected.
The feature is now available in beta to all Google Hire users, a pool currently limited to small and mid-sized US employers using its G Suite of enterprise software products. Matt Charney took a more detailed technical look at the product for Recruiting Daily, noting that “traditional search engines are notoriously bad at searching for individual people and profiles,” which may be why it’s taken Google so long to expand into this space. Now that it has, however, it’s a pretty big deal:
Google is expanding its Howard West initiative, a partnership with Washington, DC’s Howard University, from a three-month summer residency into a full-year program to which students from other schools will be invited. Howard Sueing, a Google software engineer and an instructor at Howard West, announced the change in a blog post on Tuesday:
We’re announcing that in 2018, the program will expand from the original three-month residency to a full academic year—and for students not only at Howard, but also from other esteemed Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The expansion was part of the original program goal, and it’s wonderful to see it blossoming so quickly.
The pilot exceeded our expectations in many ways. Students and faculty noted both the rigor and immersion in life at Google as the program’s most compelling aspects, and the Googlers involved felt there was a true exchange of knowledge, culture and understanding. Almost all of the students were rising juniors, making them eligible to apply for full software engineering internships at Google this coming summer. Notably, when the session concluded, 14 students applied. Four of them received offers, and they all accepted.
This fall, 100 students from Howard and other HBCUs will begin the immersive program at Google’s campus in Mountain View, California, TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey reports.
Google has taken its internal IT training curriculum and, in partnership with Coursera, taken it public in the form of a certificate program. The tech giant is also providing full funding to 10,000 students, despite the fact that the majority of them will never become Googlers. Still, this initiative will allow Google to build a pipeline of talent in a critical field—they’ll have an inside track to hiring top performers from the program—while also enabling diversity across the entire sector by upskilling candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. It burnishes the company’s public image as well: The program is available to anyone, the cost is highly subsidized, and Google will have a hand in closing the digital talent gap.
The cost of the program is $49 per month, and scholarships will be funded by Google.org grants and distributed in part through community groups such as Year Up, Goodwill, Student Veterans of America, and Upwardly Global, per Google’s press release. The goal is for students to be ready for entry-level IT support jobs within 8 to 12 months after they complete the training, which consists of 64 hours of video lessons as well as interactive labs and assignments.
Trainees will learn to handle tasks such as troubleshooting and customer service, operating systems, and system administration, automation, and security. Once students complete the program, they will also have the option to share their information with an impressive list of corporate employers such as Bank of America, Walmart, PNC Bank, and more, in addition to Google.
While Google is the trendsetter here, Coursera is working on similar programs with other companies, Quartz’s Michael J. Coren notes:
LinkedIn on Tuesday announced the rollout of a new feature called “Pipeline Builder” that “identifies, engages, and generates interest from professionals on the LinkedIn network, through advanced ad targeting and a personalized landing page experience.” The feature is intended to help employers identify candidates who were not being captured through other sourcing techniques; in its pilot program, LinkedIn says, 84 percent of the candidate pool Pipeline Builder generated “had not previously applied to a job at the company, despite being qualified for the role and having shown interest in the company.” The feature is particularly geared toward organizations that need to hire a large number of employees in a short period of time:
Imagine that you’re looking to hire 10 engineers in a short amount of time. Here’s how Pipeline Builder works in this case:
You set the exact criteria for your target talent pool — you can filter by title, years of experience, schools, companies and location, to name a few. [As seen in image above, those] LinkedIn members are then targeted with ads in their feed on both desktop and mobile, as well as with a new banner on your Company Page.
Once members click on these ads, they’re taken to a personalized landing page experience that greets them by name and allows them to engage with your opportunity through custom rich media (including video) and tailored content.
- Prospects can then click the “I’m Interested” button on the landing page to share their LinkedIn profile and additional contact info, without going through the hassle of a lengthy application.
At ERE, recruiting tech expert Joel Cheesman characterizes Pipeline Builder as “another solid offering from LinkedIn” and as a competitive move in response to efforts by other tech giants to make waves in the recruiting space, such as Facebook’s job listing feature and Google’s machine-learning-enhanced job search functionality, as well as its applicant tracking system Google Hire: