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HCI Webinar: Training Tech Talent from Underserved Communities, with Sheldon Gilbert

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Sheldon Gilbert about training tech talent from underserved communities. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


The discussions between Jonathan and Sheldon focused on the importance of training tech talent from underserved communities. Sheldon shared his organization's mission and accomplishments, highlighting a significant disconnect between traditional talent sources and Fortune 1000 employers. They discussed the need for vocational training to prepare tech talent for the workforce and the discrepancy between education cost and economic utility. They also explored the talent gap in the industry, a shortage of engineers, and the potential impact of generative AI on industries.


Tech Talent Training for Underserved Communities


Sheldon from Kura Labs and Jonathan discussed the importance of training tech talent from underserved communities. Sheldon shared his organization's mission and accomplishments, including training over 100 engineers and generating over 12 million dollars in new wages. He also highlighted a significant disconnect between traditional talent sources and Fortune 1000 employers.


Tech Talent Training and Generative AI Discussion


Jonathan and Sheldon discussed the need to train tech talent from underserved communities to prepare them for the workforce. Sheldon pointed out the discrepancy between the cost of education and its economic utility, suggesting a need for a shift in the model. They also addressed the rise of generative AI and its potential impact on industries, with Sheldon noting that this has led to a reevaluation of the talent pool. Sheldon proposed the use of cloud computing as a means to level the playing field and create economic opportunities. However, they acknowledged the challenge of a shortage of engineers, particularly cloud engineers.


Tech Industry Skills and Vocational Training


Jonathan and Sheldon had a conversation about the current state of the job market, particularly in the tech industry. Sheldon voiced concerns about the discrepancy between what is taught in colleges and the skills needed in the real world. They also discussed the talent gap in the industry. Jonathan proposed releasing a special episode featuring Sheldon, aiming for an April release. Sheldon agreed to this and emphasized the need for more vocational training in the industry. Jonathan concluded the conversation by stating he would consider Sheldon's suggestions and tag him on LinkedIn once the episode is released.


Education, Debt, and Tech Skills


Sheldon and Jonathan discussed the significant cost of education and the resulting debt that students often face. Sheldon highlighted the issue's impact on underserved communities, who are also less likely to have access to and knowledge of technologies like AI. The conversation then shifted to the need for skill development, with Jonathan asking Sheldon about the specific skills employers are looking for in tech talent. Sheldon emphasized the crucial role of practical skills and knowledge of specific tools, and pointed out that many people may know how to use a tool but lack the ability to create complex models or projects using it.


Tool Proficiency and Collaboration Training


Sheldon emphasized the importance of applying tools rather than just knowing how to use them. He highlighted that employers are seeking individuals who can understand and solve specific business problems using various tools. Sheldon also discussed the significance of collaboration and problem-solving skills. He mentioned that his organization, Cure Labs, provides training that focuses on extensive repetition of workloads using necessary tools. This approach enables students to gain proficiency and experience similar to that obtained through years of on-the-job learning. The discussion concluded with Sheldon stating that their training model helps individuals have the necessary 15 iterations to master a tool.


Cloud Infrastructure Training Sandbox Development


Sheldon and Jonathan discussed the importance of cloud infrastructure training due to high demand for jobs in the field. Sheldon highlighted the challenges faced by training academies, such as the high costs associated with providing students with individual cloud accounts. To address this, Sheldon shared that they have developed a specialized sandbox that can emulate any company's infrastructure, allowing students to train in simulated conditions while managing costs effectively. The conversation also touched on the use of the sandbox for automated grading and providing real-world experience within a business context. Jonathan expressed enthusiasm about the potential of the sandbox to address skills gaps in the workforce and make vocational programming more accessible to diverse populations.


Listen to the webinar here:





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