Jobs for the Future (JFF) commissioned a survey to explore the opportunities and barriers facing Black learners and workers in entering and advancing in digital and IT careers. The survey of more than 1,000 Black Americans was conducted by consumer research agency AudienceNet to help bring the lived experiences of Black learners and workers into JFF's efforts to increase racial economic equity.
The survey reveals that more than 6 in 10 Black adults not working in digital or information technology would consider a career change to work in the sector. However, more than half reported they were unsure where to start (55%) or felt they lacked the financial resources (51%), skills (52%), or industry connections (45%) to launch a tech career. Other findings from JFF’s survey include:
- STEM career pathways are perceived as out of reach. Almost half (45%) of Black Americans who hadn’t studied a STEM subject (science, technology, engineering, or math) said they had considered it. But 21% of these individuals thought it would be too difficult, 21% didn’t know enough about it, and 14% felt it would be too expensive.
- Gender gap compounds the racial equity gap in tech. While 4 in 10 Black Americans said they work in a digital or IT-related field, they were more likely to be men and between the ages of 16-34. Women were more likely than men to report leaving high school with only general technology skills and no access to advanced technology opportunities.
- Black career changers prefer short-term courses to traditional higher education. Black Americans interested in breaking into tech prefer free online resources (39%) and short-term courses (33%) to prepare them to change careers. A lower but significant proportion was open to enrolling in higher education full-time (18%) or part-time (26%).
The sample also included people who may not have considered careers in digital or IT. Understanding their perspectives helps us estimate the potential loss of talent our country faces—Black Americans who may have considered digital or IT roles if they had the right information, support, and opportunities.