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Workforce Readiness

New College-Business Partnership to Boost Hispanic Students' STEM Aspirations

California's San Jose City College (SJCC) has teamed up with the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) to address the challenges Hispanic students have in staying with and graduating from college and forging good careers in the technology segment. The joint program will combine education and training with mentoring and professional development, with the goal of increasing student retention, graduation and employment rates.

Nearly half of SJCC students are Hispanic — 47 percent in fall 2020, according to IPEDS data. And currently, across the country, Hispanics make up 17 percent of the workforce, the organizations reported, but only 8 percent of the STEM workforce.

A 2019 study by the Student Research Foundation found that just 12 percent of college graduates who earned STEM degrees were Hispanic, in spite of the fact that Hispanic Americans made up more than a fifth (21 percent) of the 18- to 24-year-old population in the United States. The same research reported that Hispanic high schoolers were less likely than their White and Asian peers to take at least seven STEM courses (20 percent versus 31 percent) and were far more likely to aspire to attend community college (26 percent versus 14 percent) than four-year institutions.

STEM aspirations were nearly comparable. Half of White and Asian high schoolers aspired to STEM careers, compared to 47 percent of Hispanic students. However, confidence gaps were evident. A third of Hispanic students (33 percent) with STEM aspirations expressed high STEM confidence, compared to 40 percent of White and Asian students.

Through the new partnership, Hispanic technology leaders will serve as role models and mentors among the college's non-traditional and at-risk populations, encouraging Hispanic students, in particular, to follow through on their career goals.

"Our HITEC motto of pushing up and pulling up summarizes our key tenant of service to our community. We will be focused on collaborating with the SJCC team to support the students that are working hard to attain a degree in computer science and technology," said HITEC Foundation Chairman Ramon Baez, in a statement.

"SJCC's collaboration with HITEC is exactly what is needed to close the wage and skills gap in Silicon Valley and to open the door to technology careers for our students," added Lena Tran, SJCC's vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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