Where will the brainpower for your smart city come from?

Wed, 2015-02-18 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Will cities have the highly skilled workforces they will need in the years to come to operate smart infrastructure and drive the digital economy necessary to stay competitive? The Council's Smart Cities Readiness Guide highlights the importance of a smart city workforce. People skilled in information and communications technologies (ICT) will be essential for planning and managing smart infrastructure. And a smart workforce is a magnet that can draw new industries to town – particularly tech companies.

But it's going to be a challenge. Skilled ICT workers are in big demand. It's a situation not lost on the private sector. Many are taking steps to groom tomorrow's smart workforce. Let's take a look.

IBM helps drive high-value skills in Louisiana
A public-private partnership announced this week between the state of Louisiana, CenturyLink and Council Lead Partner IBM intends to create high-value, high-tech jobs in Louisiana and fuel the talent demands of the digital economy.

IBM will open and staff a new applications development innovation center in Monroe, LA that will provide IBM’s clients with services that address the increasing demand for flexible software services to create value from big data, cloud computing and mobile-led business transformation. And doing so, according to IBM, will create at least 400 new roles for experienced professionals and draw heavily on graduates from the state’s colleges and universities.

IBM also says it will work closely with local professors to recommend curricular innovations focused on technology, math and software development, and equip students to meet the growing demand for business services, including advanced analytics, process innovation and application development.

The partnership will include formal internships with IBM and additional CenturyLink internships for students in the targeted universities. Additionally, IBM will work with the Louisiana Economic Development FastStart® program on recruiting initiatives, including campus events in Louisiana and neighboring states as well as via social media, alumni events and the development of recruiting materials.

MasterCard's Girls4Tech program debuts in Frankfurt
Girls4Tech is a program that showcases Council Lead Partner MasterCard’s payment technology and engages its employees as role models and mentors. The hands-on, inquiry-based program connects the foundations of MasterCard's business to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles and shows young school girls that it takes all kinds of interests and skills to pursue a career in STEM.

“With a declining number of young women going into STEM careers, it’s important for MasterCard to help make a difference in this space and work to develop a strong pipeline of talent for the technology jobs of the future,” said Susan Warner, Vice President, Worldwide Communications.  “Our goal is to inspire young people to build the skills needed -- in science, technology, engineering and math -- to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.”

More than 240 girls and MasterCard employees participated in the program in the U.S. last year and now Frankfurt marks the first stop on an international expansion which will include London, Gurgaon, India, Pune, India, Dubai, U.A.E, and Sydney, Australia.

Qualcomm hosts hackathon for Qcampers
As part of its Women Enhancing Technology program that, like MasterCard's effort, focuses on building the pipeline of girls interested in STEM, Council Lead Partner Qualcomm recently hosted a hackathon for 40 middle school girls – Qcampers -- inside its Thinkabit Lab. They were paired with female college student mentors and the goal was to create mobile apps for social good.

Erin Gavin, writing on the company blog, explained: "The goal for our hackathon was to inspire the girls to continue with STEM education, enhance their coding ability and surround them with role models who can show them what it’s like to pursue their dreams. Not every girl went home with a prize, but every girl went home a winner."

Bechtel helps raise awareness of engineering careers
Last year we wrote about Lead Partner Bechtel's work with two U.S. national security laboratories to fund multi-year positions for early-career professionals in cybersecurity fields. The joint effort is about recruiting and cultivating cybersecurity experts to strengthen networks.

The company is also working to raise awareness of how a career in engineering can help solve global challenges of the future. Bechtel partners with global non-government organizations that promote education or use engineering and construction skills to improve the quality of life and also teams with a variety of nonprofits that support STEM education and diversity in the industry.

Bechtel collaborated on the video below with Birmingham City University to inspire the next generation of engineers.