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Addressing the STEM Skills Gap: Ensuring Every Young Person Has Access to Opportunities to Pursue their Dreams

Dec 20, 2023
Dec 20, 2023

Addressing the STEM Skills Gap: Ensuring Every Young Person Has Access to Opportunities to Pursue their Dreams

Shipt CEO Kamau Witherspoon joins Axios for a conversation on addressing diversity in STEM, mentorship and equipping young people with the skills they need for tomorrow’s tech-focused workforce

This year, Shipt partnered with Axios to bring a three-part event series, Pathways to Progress to Washington, D.C. Over the past several months, the events brought public and private sector leaders together for important conversations around topics such as food insecurity as well as entrepreneurship and small business. And, last week, the partnership culminated with our final event, Pathways to Progress: Readying the Workforce.

Shipt CEO Kamau Witherspoon joined Representative Tony Cárdenas (CA) and Maria A. Bernard, Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, National Institutes of Health (NIH) for an insightful conversation to examine the challenges and trends facing STEM, including workforce development, diversifying the field, and preparing future leaders.

At Shipt we recognize the barriers people face entering the tech field, which is why we were excited to co-host this conversation. At the event, Kamau shared what we at Shipt know to be true – technology without a human touch is irrelevant. And, to ensure technology continues to meet the ever-evolving needs of all who use it, we must address the challenges facing STEM, including the lack of diversity and opportunities for underrepresented groups to learn and work in STEM.  

Shipt CEO Kamau Witherspoon in Conversation with Axios publisher Nicholas Johnston

While we’d love to share every detail of the night, we’ve pulled together five key takeaways from Kamau’s conversation: 

  1. It is more important now than ever to address the STEM skills gap and improve workforce development. As we shift to a digital economy, addressing the STEM skills gap and improving workforce development is vital. Shipt understands the barriers to entering into tech, which is why we’re committed to creating pipelines and removing obstacles for Black and underrepresented tech talent.

  1. Without significant change and investment, current inequities in STEM fields will only worsen. Today, Black and Hispanic adults represent just 9 and 8 percent of the STEM workforce, respectively, and women continue to be vastly underrepresented in engineering, architecture and computer sciences. If left as is, these underrepresented groups stand to miss out on impactful STEM careers and flourishing new growth areas.

  1. Shipt is committed to working to help level the economic playing field for Black and other underrepresented populations and ensure everyone has access to opportunities crucial for success. Every young person should have access to opportunities to pursue their dreams of success – and it is important to help make that a reality for underrepresented communities. We’re leading the industry by example, cultivating a diverse team that is representative of the communities we serve and establishing programs and strategic partnerships dedicated to educating, mentoring and developing Black and underrepresented tech talent.

  1. Mentorship is a key piece of the puzzle. Kamau is passionate about ensuring young people have access to mentorship. He knows first-hand how mentorship can open a mentee’s eyes to a world of possibilities, helping them forge their way to success. At Shipt, we take pride in fostering a mentoring culture that sparks opportunities for connection, growth and professional development – in our hometown of Birmingham and the communities we serve.

  1. Increasing access to STEM education and opportunities for underserved communities will require all hands on deck. As a Black CEO of a tech company, Kamau is used to being one of few – or the only – Black person in the room and understands the barriers to pursuing a STEM education, let alone a career. He knows the solution to this problem will take a village, which is why he encouraged other business leaders to join us on this journey. There are many actions, big and small, each of us can take to inspire and engage the next generation. 

At Shipt, we understand the power of technology, but most importantly, we believe in the power of people. Having diverse talent from all walks of life and backgrounds is not only critical to driving our business forward but to the tech industry as a whole, and we hope to continue working with elected officials and policymakers to collaborate and identify solutions together.

As with many of the complex issues we’re helping to tackle, including our work to combat food insecurity and support small businesses, we need the public and private sector to make the tech industry more representative and to make sure the next generation of tech professionals have access to everything they need to be successful. 

About Shipt

Shipt is a retail tech company that connects people to reliable, high-quality delivery with a personal touch. Through the power of technology, Shipt connects customers to the things they want from the stores they love, workers to new earning opportunities, and retail businesses to more satisfied customers. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Shipt brings people the flexible solutions they need with the above-and-beyond service they expect. Shipt is an independently operated subsidiary of Target Corp. and available in more than 5,000 U.S. cities. For more information, please visit Shipt’s Newsroom.

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