Exploring opportunities to develop new tech curricula at Florida International University. Providing tuition for bootcamp programs. Partnering with an innovative incubator program at Florida Memorial University. These are a few ways the recently launched Miami Tech Works is already helping create pathways to tech. And its Miami Tech Talent Coalition working groups are hard at work creating internship and apprenticeship experiences, ensuring hiring processes are inclusive, and much more.
You may think it’s all about at bats and runs, but technology is an integral part of the Miami Marlins organization. loanDepot Park, through a partnership with the Marlins, is also the home for Ironhack, a Miami-based coding bootcamp and tech training company. That’s why the park was a fitting venue for the October 12th meeting of Miami Tech Works’ Miami Tech Talent Coalition last week, drawing over 150 employers and community members to talk about ways to prime our local tech talent pipeline.
“The president of the Marlins [Caroline O’Connor] happens to have led a significant digital transformation and substantial innovation and given the opportunity for our students to put in practice a lot of web dev skills, cyber skills and data skills that they learn in our campus. I think it’s really cool that we have the opportunity to collaborate an MLB team, and this is the magic of Miami,” Ariel Quinones, founder and CEO of Ironhack told the crowd gathered in the Marlins’ press room. Ironhack has graduated over 15,000 students over the years.
David Oxfeld, Chief Commercial Officer for the Miami Marlins, ticked off many of the ways going digital has improved the fan experience: all digital ticketing, concessions delivered to your seat via the mobile ordering experience, and a virtual assistant always at the ready. The organization also created Tech Tuesdays, where along with the baseball game the tech community can hear from a speaker or participate in a tech talk, he said. Most recently, the Marlins announced a pilot with South Florida startup TicketRev, where fans can present their own price for a ticket. Lastly, Oxfeld said, the Marlins are interested in drawing well-rounded tech talent. “You always want to have diverse opinions at the table.”
Miami Tech Works Director Terri-Ann Brown gave an update on the progress of Miami Tech Works, the program that received a $10 million federal Good Jobs Challenge grant for employers, academic institutions and community-based organizations to identify the tech talent gaps and find pathways for entry level students and those wanting to transition into tech. In short: to build a sustainable pipeline for businesses and for talent, she said.
To date, the Good Jobs Challenge funding is being used in the following ways:
- At Miami Dade College, for bolstering wraparound services to reduce barriers to completion; hiring support staff to assist MDC WORKS and Single Stop;
- At Florida Memorial University, for creating new career pathways in partnership with Tech Knowledge (formerly known as TechNolij) providing wraparound services;
- At FIU, for assisting with events that provide career-readiness advice and services including resume writing, mock interviews and community-building opportunities from the Experiential Learning in Technology program and exploring opportunities for developing new curricula for the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences;
- At Brainstation and 4Geeks Academy, for full tuition for students in high-demand programs for UX/UI and data science.
There are 796 students enrolled in Miami Dade College’s EnTec bachelor’s degree programs, and some people may not even know that Miami Dade College offers bachelor’s degrees in computer science, Brown said. “In the next phase of the grant, Miami Tech Works will launch a marketing and outreach campaign that’s going to drive attention to these programs and the value that they bring,” she said.
“Companies like Kaseya, eMed, UKG, Chewy and many other companies offer students a chance to stay here, build families here and continue to grow their tech career,” Brown said. “Right now, we’re working with UKG to identify 200 local students for spring and summer internship programs.” Says Brown.
In addition to those 796 students at MDC, FIU has 65 computer science students and FMU has 15 students that Miami Tech Works is tracking for the Good Jobs Challenge, meaning funding is available for these students to receive experiential learning opportunities and wrap-around services. That might include a tour with UKG, training for a technical interview, or help with technology needs, transportation or tuition. The support also extends to 18 students at 4Geeks Academy, 33 at BrainStation and 10 students with OIC of South Florida.
FMU created a new program in tech sales, and that came about through a conversation with Miami Tech Works and Kaseya because Kaseya identified that area as both an immediate need and a pathway to other tech opportunities, Brown said. Kaseya will be actively involved and give students feedback in the tech sales course.
Meanwhile, BrainStation and 4Geeks offer students full-stack programs, offering real-world experience, Brown said. Brown added that OIC of South Florida is a nonprofit training academy that typically works with underrepresented communities and it now offers cybersecurity, C-plus and broadband training. “I’m super excited that the Good Jobs Challenge grant money is being used in these ways.”
Brown also shared an example of Miami Tech Works in action. One of the small businesses in the micro-internship pilot program, Nailstry, uses the SWIFT programming language to develop their smartphone app. This discovery led to an opportunity for students from MDC’s partnership with Apple to potentially serve as interns for a longer period of time. Discussions between Nailstry and Miami Dade College are currently underway to develop the SWIFT internship.
Coming up are technical assistance workshops, Brown said. “We’re also talking about new and exciting programs and how we can be agile enough to meet the demands of employers. The only way that we can do that is to continue to have these conversations with employers.”
Caryn Lavernia of Lab22c and facilitator for the Miami Tech Talent Coalition told the group: “We need our community partners to make sure that our entire community is benefiting from the tech movement that we have happening in this community that is magical, that can change lives, that can provide general generational wealth for a community. We welcome you all to join our working groups. Email [email protected].”
President and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Alfred Sanchez urged the group to take the Chamber’s workforce survey. “The chamber partnered with the George Perez Metropolitan Institute at FIU and we’re conducting a major study on the current and future workforce needs of our companies. We want all of you to take that. We’re trying to get to at least 1,000 companies.” Business owners who wish to participate in the survey can visit go.fiu.edu/EWDS2023. The survey will be available until October 31, 2023.
Let’s hear more from the Miami Tech Talent Coalition working groups.
SMALL BUSINESS CAPACITY BUILDING WORK GROUP
Chair: Reginald Andre, Ark Solvers
Membership: 42 members
Pilot project: Their microinternship project launched this month for six small businesses, and already has 11 projects in the works for students. Students work one-on-one with small businesses or work on case teams on 15-hour projects that meet critical tech needs of our small business community.
“We are excited to announce that we have officially launched a pilot, project-based microinternship project thanks to Parker-Dewey and HumanCloud. This pilot will allow us to test our concept and also scale these types of projects to build the technical capacity of our small business community,” Andre said.
There are currently 6 small businesses in the pilot and 11 projects have been proposed, he said. The types of projects include Web Development, Web Updates, CRM optimization, HubSpot, UX Design – all including user research, prototyping, to final design, social media management and strategic partner identification.
Adds Paul Polo, a member of the working group and Director of Strategic Partnerships for The Human Cloud, about the microprojects: “I’m sure somebody on your team could do it, but why not a student that needs the experience and can get paid to do it? If you’re a small business here, please reach out to us, come to our working group, and let us help you with this pilot.”
EMERGING TECH TALENT WORK GROUP
Chairs: Ken Finneran, eMed; Charles Irizarry, BRIM & Company
Pilot projects: Members are developing an AI apprenticeship model for early talent in Miami to become skilled in applied artificial intelligence for small businesses. The group has also compiled tactical information to build an early talent resource map for Miami.
“We’re creating an AI internship that is still being finalized and that will be submitted to the state for approval. We’re working with various employers to get their buy-in into that… We also are exploring apprenticeship opportunities,” Finneran said. Employers have been providing valuable insights and community partners such as CareerSource, academic institutions and other partners are helping the workgroup.
“This is a very real opportunity. EMed is not only Miami’s fastest growing health tech company, but we have leveraged many of the things we’re talking about in this committee to fill 100% of our junior software roles through individuals that were either apprentices or interns. These are the type of opportunities in fast growing tech that we want to create to keep these individuals here.“
In the working group breakout meeting, GoSprout, an innovative apprenticeship tracking platform and likely partner for the pilot, presented to the group. Most importantly, Finneran said, “we encouraged employers and community partners to get or remain actively involved and to provide ideas and feedback as we finalize the AI Apprenticeship model for submission to the state for final approval.”
TECH SKILLS GAP WORK GROUP
Chair: Olga Naumovich, Millennium Management
Membership: 67 members
Pilot projects: Members launched a tech skills gap employment survey (local employers should fill out the tech skills gap survey here) and are developing a hard tech, upskilling course for incumbent workers in tech fields.
Lavernia of Lab22c gave the highlights of the working group. The purpose of the group is to look at the incumbent workforce and understand where we have skills gaps, and where people need a little reskilling and upskilling.
“It’s not just that the pilot is going to focus on hard skills, but also how do we train our middle management people who are managing tech workers and ensuring that they themselves are upskilled and prepared to lead those teams. Something critical right now is we’re surveying employers… Employers, please take the survey. It’s going to take you about 10 minutes. We will build out a pilot program out of there.”
Brown shared some insights from the working group breakout session: Jaya Polomuru, previous CTO of Equifax, now CEO and founder of icompaas.com, shared the importance of engaging with talent very early on to introduce students to companies. Larger organizations have the advantage of name recognition, while smaller organizations should participate with career exploration opportunities with tech students and expose students to their career opportunities, said Brown.
INCLUSIVE TECH TALENT WORK GROUP
- Chairs: Toia Santamarina, GET Cities; Selenis Leguisamon, AWS
- Membership: 60 members.
- Pilot projects: Leveraging all the learnings the working group has captured, they are going to build assessments and training resources for employers.
The workgroup is studying best practices that everyone can implement right away about how to build job descriptions that are more inclusive, how to put together an interview process that makes you feel that you belong, or even how to build a more inclusive culture within a company, Santamarina said. “Everyone can talk about diversity, but it’s not that easy to really be an inclusive company. We are going to build these assessments and trainings on very practical policies that you can immediately introduce with your teams,” she said.
In the working group breakout, the group discussed the need to not only launch pilot tests and assessments but to help the other working groups too.
“To achieve equity and inclusion, we must ensure every working group designs and implements their pilots considering good practices for diversity and inclusion. We work as silos. We need to integrate and support the other three groups by being the voice of this crucial goal,” Santamarina said.
How to get involved in the Miami Tech Talent Coalition
Your involvement can make a significant difference in shaping the future of Miami’s tech industry, creating a vibrant and sustainable tech talent ecosystem. Together, participants can continue to build Miami as an innovative hub and a desirable destination for businesses and tech talent.
- Join the Coalition here. Employers can also specify a work Group they are interested in.
- Next meeting: The next in-person meeting is scheduled for February. Stay tuned.
- Stay connected with the coalition’s progress and updates by signing up for their newsletter here, reviewing their website here, and following Miami Tech Works on LinkedIn and Instagram.
Views from the Miami Tech Talent Coalition working groups, above, and a group photo after the meeting in the ballpark, below. Wish you were there? Join the next meeting!
READ MORE ABOUT THE TECH TALENT COALITION:
- Perla’s pathway to tech career lined with personal perseverance and MDC’s support
- Miami Tech Talent Coalition kicks off initial programs to prime the talent pipeline
- Leaders in Action: How the Miami Tech Talent Coalition’s Workgroups are shaping the future of tech in Miami
- Tech Talent Coalition workgroup aims to make sure small business, the backbone of our economy, remains strong
- Local leaders drive momentum in Tech Talent Coalition with open call for additional employer participants
- Tech Talent Coalition workgroup aims to expand training and hiring opportunities for our local diverse talent
- As Miami Tech Works’ Tech Talent Coalition gets down to business, the Emerging Talent workgroup members see big potential
- Growing the tech talent pipeline is what Miami Tech Works is all about. Employers, here’s how to get involved
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