Department of Labor

Chicago’s effort to grow our own talent

Englewood Codes

Englewood Codes Demo Day

In recent months, we’ve highlighted several efforts to teach young people how to code and about technology. These efforts have included Englewood Codes, Civic Summer and Adler Planetarium’s Youth Hackathon. Smart Chicago is proud to have supported these efforts and looks forward to supporting more STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs like these in the future.

It’s vital that Chicago grows its own talent. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, STEM jobs are projected to grow 17%over the next decade.

In Chicago, STEM education is critical to continuing the growth of the city’s technology sector. Currently, there are over 21,000 STEM job openings in Chicago with more expected as our start-up sector continues to grow.

Chicago is competing with every city in the country for talent. It’s not simply enough to try and attract tech talent, Chicago has to grow its own talent – and that means supporting local STEM programs.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said:

“STEM education is a critical path to success and opportunity for many students throughout Chicago, and I am supportive of any and all efforts to expand STEM opportunities in the city to more students, especially in after-school and summer programs.”

STEM programs integrated into Chicago Public Schools, like the ATG Group at Prosser Career Academy, provide valuable job skills to CPS and help serve their neighborhoods. Programs like Englewood Codes, run by the non-profit group Teamwork Englewood, give students an opportunity to learn coding skills that will give them an advantage when applying for colleges.

OpenGovChicago: City of Chicago Tech Diversity Council Discussion

Neal Sales Griffin speaking about the Diversity Tech Council at Open Gov Chicago

Additionally, programs like these help to increase the diversity of the technology space as a whole. One of the major points of Mayor Emanuel’s Technology Diversity Council‘s recommendation is helping to build a pipeline through which Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago students can transition into the technology economy.


Free Geek Chicago, Photo by Shara Miller

And it isn’t just youth programs that are helping to grow talent. Private code schools like Starter League and Dev Bootcamp are training new web developers, designers, and user experience designers. At the volunteer level, the Free Geek Chicago teaches not only web development but computer repair.

There are also meetup groups that help mentor and teach code. The Chicago Women Developers are a meetup group comprised of women who love to code or want to learn how to code.

The future of tech in Chicago – in terms of both opportunity and diversity – will be a direct result of these STEM programs. This effort isn’t something that is happening in a vacuum. If you’re interested in helping Chicago grow it’s own talent, considering donating or volunteering to one of these organizations.

Cabinet members brief Amercan citizens in Year One videos

President Obama’s Cabinet taped Year One videos to highlight their respective department or agency’s 2009 accomplishments and or goals for the next year.

What do you think? Which are most informative? Authentic? Is this an effective way to familiarize citizens to public servants and put a face on government?

Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense:

Secretary Steven Chu, Department of Energy:

Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation:

Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, Department of Agriculture:

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Department of State:

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency:

Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Department of Treasury:

Secretary Janet A. Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security:

Secretary Gary F. Locke, Department of Commerce:

Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Department of Labor:

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services:

Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar, Department of the Interior:

Ambassador Ronald Kirk, United States Trade Representative:

Ambassador Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations:

Director Peter R. Orszag, Office of Management & Budget:

Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice:

Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, Department of Veterans Affairs:

Chair Christina Romer, Council of Economic Advisers:

Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education: