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Nov 19, 2016 07:24 AM EST

Sacramento-based Promise Zone Push for Diverse Tech-Ready Workforce

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Officials at Sacramento are pushing for a greater tech-ready workforce that includes diverse students living amongst the city's poorest neighborhoods, news reports say.

The Sacramento Promise Zone recently held a forum aimed at strategizing how to create a STEM training pathway, the Capital Public Radio reported. The forum had the executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers, Dr. Karl Reid, as its speaker.

"We've got big problems to solve worldwide-energy, food, water, cyber security, etc. and the country is not producing enough engineers," Reid, who leads a national coalition of STEM organizations, said. "In fact, it's predicted that over the next 10 years, there's going to be a 1 million job gap in the STEM industry."

To prepare today's students to meet that gap, Promise Zone director Tyrone Roderick Williams said the city of Sacramento collaborated with the Federal Government to provide both funding and programs targeting the areas that have high dropout, unemployment, and crime rates.

"On the longer, much broader view, we're talking about workforce development for the Sacramento region," Roderick Williams said.

"Our goal is to equip students in the Promise Zone to be prepared for the current and future STEM job market in Sacramento," he said, according to the Sacramento Cultural Hub.

Sacramento High School Principal Michelle Seijas said that one effective way to help achieve that is to have mentors that will teach students the right way.

"A lot of our students are interested in engineering but may not have an engineer in their life that they are connected to that's giving them guidance and really mentoring," Seijas said. "And so it's very important to have gentlemen like Dr. Karl Reid to be a role model that they can look to who looks like them and shows that it's possible to get to where they want to go to."

Reid, who has the goal of producing 10,000 Black Engineers annually, plans to move black U.S. students and professionals from underrepresentation to overrepresentation by 2025.

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