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Target partners with group founded by Van Jones to diversify tech job candidates

Nick WIlliams, Star Tribune on

Published in Business News

For the past few years, Target has taken a new approach that involves looking past the four-year degree prerequisite in some cases and recruiting nontraditional talent. The company uses partnerships like the one with Dream Corps TECH to teach individuals new skills, allowing Target to build a talent pipeline, McNamara said.

"It's very important for communities of color to know there is more than one way in," Wyzard said. "You don't necessarily have to just get a four-year degree in order to have a chance at entering the tech sector."

Through its national TECH program, Dream Corps designs a training curriculum tailored to a partner's needs, Wyzard said. The program also has graduated cohorts for Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group. Since 2018, 94 people across the U.S. have graduated from the TECH program.

Adding professionals of different ethnic backgrounds not only aligns with Target's diversity commitment, McNamara said, but helps fulfill a company goal to advance racial equity.

Overall, the estimated median tech wage in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metro is $88,981, 68% higher than the median metro wage, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). Software engineers in the metro on average earn about $85,000.

One barrier to gaining that kind of annual wage, however, is experience, Wyzard said, though Dream Corps TECH participants can expect placement into high entry-level roles upon graduation, he said.

 

"Experience is the No. 1 barrier to tech jobs for people of color," Wyzard said. The intent of the TECH program is to put underrepresented individuals "on a fast track," he said. As part of the program, participants from the Twin Cities receive mentorship from some of Target's tech leaders.

In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, only 3% of the roughly 200,000 people working tech-related jobs are those who identify as Black, while only 2% of those professionals identify as Hispanic or Latino, per CompTIA.

Roughly 40 people applied for the first cohort, and the applicants varied from a recent high school graduate to professionals pivoting from their current occupations, Wyzard said.

A similar size of applications, if not more, is anticipated for the second cohort.

When evaluating applications, a team at Dream Corps assess experiences and tech acumen, but also lean heavily in their aptitude to learn and mind set, Wyzard said.

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