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Summer of Jobs Campaign Visits Summit Academy to Highlight Minnesota's Black Workforce


September 14, 2022

Last week, I was excited to continue our Summer of Job tour with a stop at Summit Academy in Minneapolis. Our conversation highlighted the critical nature of workforce development for Black Minnesotans, with a special focus on the tech industry.

Jobs in tech pay well, and Minnesota employers will need thousands of new information technology professionals in the years ahead. But Black Minnesotans are significantly underrepresented in the industry.

Along with Minnesota IT Services Commissioner Tarek Tomes, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Burrage and our community partners, I went to Summit Academy to hear about its efforts to create a pipeline of Black Minnesotans ready to work in tech. Commissioner Tomes, Dr. Burrage and I were excited to talk about our work supporting tech training programs for Black Minnesotans – and we were delighted to hear from students about the program, their expectations as they go through accreditation and what more we can do to support them.

Summit Academy Students Share Their Stories

Minnesota's economy has long featured well-documented disparities between white Minnesotans and Black Minnesotans in the areas of employment, education attainment, income, and more. These ongoing disparities are holding back Minnesota's economy, and it's critical we address these challenges now. Last month, we released a report showing some notable and significant improvement in many metrics over the last decade. However, the disparities it highlights are not new.

At DEED, we continue to focus on tackling disparities. Earlier this year, we established our five racial equity commitments which include driving more funding to historically underserved populations; reforming government programs that have left out Black workers and business owners for too long; and launching concerted outreach and engagement programs for Black workers and Black-owned businesses across the state.

Minnesota's Black population is young and one of the fastest growing segments of our workforce – and will continue to be so over the coming decade. Providing technology training opportunities will help prepare people from the Black community for successful careers with sustainable wages, while also helping meet the demands of Minnesota's dynamic tech industry.

That's why it's so important to highlight the great work that organizations like Summit Academy are doing to grow and support more Black workers to enter high-paying IT careers, one of the pathways Summit Academy has established for its students. Summit Academy OIC is a nonprofit vocational training school and their career pathway programming offers accredited 20-week job training programs at no cost to students. Summit's Information Technology program enrolled 195 students in 2020-21, a 101% increase from 2020. The program provides students with entry-level skills in the IT field through classroom and hands-on training completed in two 10-week phases.


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