Who Will Carry the Digital Torch?

Extending IT opportunity to untapped talent around the world.

IT workers such as software and networking engineers are the quiet enablers of our digital world. But even as that world expands, the reality is that there aren’t enough technology professionals to go around, and the delta between unfilled jobs and available talent is growing daily.

Wakefield Research recently surveyed 1800 global IT decision-makers, half of whom predicted that in five years, their workforces would lack the skills to do their jobs. In the U.S. alone, there are already an estimated half-million unfilled computer science jobs.

The digital divide remains one source of the skills gap. Internet access and computers remain cost-prohibitive in many parts of the world. In others, networks are slow, unreliable, or even nonexistent. These circumstances have left a huge pool of potential talent languishing.

Bridging the divide could be a significant part of the solution. That’s why at Juniper, we advocate creating an education- and opportunity-rich pipeline to potential new IT resources wherever they might be, across gender, culture, and geography. We consider it critical to find and nurture new tech talent that can carry forth the digital torch.

As part of that effort, we believe that educational systems need to consider computer science a foundational subject and include it in K-12 school curricula. Today, three-fourths of U.S. public schools don’t offer computer science classes.

We advocate putting coding into the syllabus starting in elementary school so that everyone has the same basic programming skills from the start. Technology companies can step in with supplemental philanthropic efforts—including academic and vocational training, mentoring, and scholarships—to help keep student interest and skills alive.

Getting more women represented in the tech workforce is also a huge imperative. Today, women comprise only about a fourth of the tech workforce, though nearly 75 percent of girls express interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in their early teen years. Juniper is committed to helping turn these situations around. Our work with TechWomen, for example, has seen Juniper professionals mentor women in places like Kazakhstan, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. And we’ve partnered with Girls Who Code to help close the gender gap and build a strong stable of future female engineers.

At the university level, Juniper conducts weeklong “throwdowns” or hackathons twice yearly. We provide software-defined networking (SDN) technology instruction and then challenge student teams to solve a real-world application problem using Juniper automation platforms.

These are just a few of the ways that the Juniper community shares its talents and knowledge to help inspire and empower the next generation. It’s up to all of us to find creative ways to lay the groundwork for a digital-rich future.

National Techies Day is October 3, 2016. Juniper salutes those who give back to the community.