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Driving Tech Talent Growth in PHL


Information technology has been a major driver of U.S. employment growth in recent years, both for workers with advanced education and people without a bachelor's degree. In Greater Philadelphia, leveraging the potential of our tech workforce will support business growth and expand opportunity – two areas where we lag peer metros.

To help advance efforts to drive tech talent growth in the region, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia – with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Lenfest Foundation, SEI, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and Graduate! Philadelphia – conducted an in-depth market assessment and led the collaborative development of a shared framework for action to achieve the following vision and goals.



A deep and diverse tech talent pool in Greater Philadelphia supports business growth and fosters economic opportunity for residents


1) More employers invest in upskilling their incumbent workforce to fill high-skill IT openings


2) More individuals in our region obtain IT education and training that meets rapidly evolving market needs


3) More women, people of color, and dislocated workers consider careers in IT






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Driving Tech Talent Growth in PHL

Key Findings


Taking effective action to strengthen Greater Philadelphia’s tech workforce requires an understanding of the current regional labor market, an analysis of recent trends, and an assessment of future needs. An in-depth market assessment yielded six key findings about our region’s tech workforce.


1) Greater Philadelphia's tech workforce is large and growing, but is constrained by an undersupply of qualified candidates and a lack of diversity.


2) IT employers in our region are struggling to fill high-skill job openings.


3) With the rapid pace of change in technology, employers need high-skill workers who can learn continuously, problem solve, and adapt to evolving business needs.  


4) Several tech occupations provide career on-ramps for middle-skill workers, with one-third of the region’s IT workforce holding less than a bachelor’s degree.


5) Many regional residents – from K-12 students to adults – do not understand the wide variety of jobs, industries, and career paths in tech.


6) Greater Philadelphia’s IT education and training ecosystem is wide-ranging, but can better meet regional market needs


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Driving Tech Talent Growth in PHL

An Action Framework


Driving tech talent growth in Greater Philadelphia will require sustained, collaborative focus by the wide range of firms, institutions, government agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations in the region. To guide this work, the Economy League and a core group of key stakeholders developed a shared action framework for leveraging our tech workforce to drive regional growth and opportunity.



Increase incumbent worker training and employer-led solutions 

Increased focus on upskilling existing IT workers is a particularly promising strategy for closing our region’s high-skill labor shortage. Enhancing capacity among industry partnerships will provide a broader platform for sharing best practices, leveraging public funding, and coordinating incumbent worker training among employers. Expanding work-based learning programs and coordinating human resources practices will also help broaden the tech talent pool.



Align and scale educational and tech training programs 

Our higher education system is complemented by a growing number of specialized tech training and coding bootcamps that provide alternative entry points to a tech career. Expanding the number of bootcamp seats can help address the supply gap of qualified candidates in the near-term. Longer-term, collaboration between industry-led workforce partnerships and postsecondary institutions as well as K-12 schools will help ensure that foundational and technical skills taught align with market needs and are adaptable to future trends.



Raise awareness of potential tech careers among underrepresented populations 

Educating more people—particularly young women and people of color—about the breadth of career opportunities in tech will help expand and diversify the talent pipeline for IT employers in Greater Philadelphia. Targeted outreach campaigns to reach these individuals, as well as career-changers and dislocated workers, will help drive growth and expand opportunity in the region.



Improve access to data on tech talent in the region 

Broad access to data and information about employer needs, career pathways, and education programs in Greater Philadelphia will help inform the actions of firms, educational institutions, and workforce providers. It will also empower jobseekers, students considering IT educational programs, and other interested stakeholders to take advantage of available opportunities.


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Driving Tech Talent Growth in PHL

Early Implementation Efforts


Convening IT employers and expanding data collection

The Innovative Technology Action Group (ITAG) is an industry partnership and a regional leader around Technology/IT employer engagement and workforce development. ITAG is an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council and is funded in part by the private sector and the Chester County Workforce Development Board. ITAG brings together a diverse set of business, education, training, and public sector leaders from Southeastern PA to learn from one another and collaborate around shared workforce needs and solutions. Going forward, ITAG has committed to expanding its bi-monthly regional meetings to include PHL tech workforce initiative steering committee members. This will help to build new relationships among major IT employers in Greater Philadelphia and provide a natural ongoing home for collaborative efforts to advance the action framework highlighted in this report.


ITAG will also expand its annual Technology/IT employer needs assessment survey to reach more firms and collect additional critical information on employer needs including training, hiring, and more. The Economy League will assist ITAG with design and distribution of the expanded survey and will help identify additional partners to extend the survey’s reach. Leveraging ITAG’s existing annual survey to reach a broader audience of employers will help regional leaders maintain up-to-date and detailed information about changing labor market needs and dynamics on an ongoing basis, allowing for more targeted interventions by employers, educators, funders, and others going forward.


Engaging HR leaders

Recognizing the role of HR decision-making in addressing current and future tech workforce challenges, the Philadelphia Regional Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (Philly SHRM) has committed to engaging its member base around IT workforce hiring and training best practices. Part of the world’s largest HR professional society, Philly SHRM provides professional development and networking opportunities for more than 1,400 area human resource practitioners representing more than 500 of Greater Philadelphia’s leading employers. Philly SHRM will be conducting focus groups in 2017 to help shape their approach to deepening member engagement around IT hiring issues.


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