Career Karma and Google partner up to prepare Black talent for tech careers

By Nancy Dahlberg

Career Karma and Tech Equity Collective, an initiative started by Google, have just launched the Black Genius Academy, a tech career exploration platform that equips aspiring Black tech talent with resources, knowledge and a support network to succeed in technical education programs and skill up for high-paying tech roles. 

Black Genius Academy will provide personalized career action plans, coaching support, and inspirational audio interviews with Black tech leaders, including leaders who have taken nontraditional pathways into tech, said Loryn Hairston, brand marketing manager for Google’s Tech Equity Collective. The program will also shine a light on employer-led training programs to make sure people are learning the latest technologies that are in-demand in addition to bootcamps. “We’re really all about inviting the whole tech ecosystem in to join this work with us and to do the work of doubling black representation in the industry.”

Through career coaching, Black Genius Academy will initially aim to demystify fast-growing career fields and help learners discover what a career in tech can look like for them, said Hairston, in an interview with Refresh Miami. “It’s really that first step into helping them understand and explore what the possibilities in tech can be for them.”

BGA is starting with three career fields: software engineering, UX design, and cybersecurity. There are plans to expand those  fields to continue to equip people with the most in-demand skills, including AI, and empower them economically, Hairston added. “We are really excited to partner with Career Karma on this.”  

 Career Karma is a startup that enables workers to transition into the tech industry. Founded five years ago by Ruben Harris, the venture-backed company has since helped over 150,000 people get the training they need to get jobs in tech. For Harris, this is Career Karma’s most ambitious project to date.

“When you think about the need for financial empowerment, when you think about AI increasing the creation of new roles and increasing the demand for new skills and the rise of online education and remote work all happening at the same time, this is the perfect storm,” said Harris, CEO of Career Karma and a Miami resident. “There’s no better opportunity to leverage what we’ve developed over the last five years and come together with someone as big as Google that is not only a creator of education, but also a funder of education, to help us get closer to our vision of helping 1 billion people in 10 years.”

Amid recent headlines of Miami’s population declining for the first time, this is a powerful counter narrative to heed, Harris asserts in the Refresh Miami interview. “Employers are coming up with this together with startups and nonprofits and governments to address the needs so that people that are from here can stay here. If local Miami companies want to be part of that, there’s an open call for them to join Google in these efforts.”

Much of the platform will be free, including access to the web application on their phone or desktop, the action plan and access to free rescaling upskilling resources, coaching support, and a network of people and organizations that will help users navigate their career, Harris and Hairston said. There will be Google certificates as well as ones provided by other organizations. For people who complete the in the action plan training and want to participate in bootcamps but need financial assistance, there will be opportunities to apply for scholarships.

The program, available at blackgeniusacademy.com, will accept 5,000 people to start — no tech experience required. Most of the training will be virtual but there could be opportunities for local in-person components, too, for instance instead of a career fair, perhaps an “intro to your career fair, Harris said. This platform could complement what’s already happening in Miami, such as the news from Miami Dade College about their new AI Centers and new degree programs and the recent formation of the employer-led Tech Talent Coalition.

“For a lot of people when they hear things like AI or new skills, they’re scared, but people locally should be more excited than they ever have before,” said Harris. “The companies are providing skillsets and training for things that aren’t even being taught at colleges or boot camps — that’s the best thing that’s going to be coming in the future. More importantly, you’re going to not be alone — you have support, you have people that are with you along the way.”

Participating in the BGA beta testing were a number of nonprofit workers as well as service sector employees such as ones in hospitality, including a chef.

Harris says BGA and other programs can help the huge swath of South Floridians in the service sector making $35,000 a year not only stay in Miami, but perhaps even in their same industry but with the tech skills to double or triple their wages.  

“If we figure this out in Miami, we can roll out that playbook in cities like Atlanta and New York and Chicago and LA.”

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Nancy Dahlberg