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CUNY, Tech Companies Partner to Create Tech Talent Pipeline

Fortune 500 companies are working with City University of New York campuses, Amazon Web Services and government leaders to update or redesign IT curricula at area colleges to suit the needs of employers.

A sign on the side of a building that says "The City University of New York" next to the CUNY logo.
A plaque at the City University of New York (CUNY) Headquarters in New York City.
Erik McGregor/TNS
In New York City, government and higher education leaders formed a partnership with Fortune 500 companies to better prepare local public college students for technology-related careers.

This collaboration, announced at an April 18 news conference and in a subsequent news release, puts Amazon Web Services at the helm in delivering technical training and instruction at City University of New York (CUNY) campuses. The list of companies working with Amazon to design and deliver the new curricula includes Accenture, BNY Mellon, Bank of America, Citi, Deloitte EY, KPMG, and PwC.

The goal is to close the deep skills gap between these institutions and major employers while preparing students with the know-how needed for entry-level positions in IT fields such as cloud support, cybersecurity and data integration, according to Abby Jo Sigal, executive director of the New York Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development.

“We applaud this collaboration and commitment,” Sigal said in a public statement. “Tapping the city’s unrivaled scale and diversity of talent enables New York City’s tech sector to thrive. Industry collaborations such as these have a track record of positioning New Yorkers for tech jobs. That’s good for our economy, employers and New Yorkers.”

Sigal said the employers will work with schools to review existing certificate and degree programs, determine the competency levels required for in-demand technical roles, and update their courses accordingly. Students will have opportunities to interact and network with participating employers through internships, capstone projects, and advising and mentoring sessions.

This initiative already began with Queensborough Community College this spring semester and will continue onto the other 24 CUNY campuses across New York City, though officials did not disclose a specific schedule for the academic year. More than 80 percent of CUNY graduates remain in New York City, according to the news release.

“New York is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s fastest-growing tech hubs, where organizations of all sizes and sectors are using technology to power business growth,” AWS Vice President of U.S. Public Sector Education, State and Local Government Kim Majerus said in a public statement. “The city’s diverse ecosystem of future talent and intentional commitment to building pathways to tech careers — through both non-traditional programs like bootcamps and traditional education — helped set the foundation for this collaborative initiative.”

The New York Jobs CEO Council, a nonprofit agency that plays a key role in this initiative, maintains a sense of urgency for getting potential STEM students up to speed as quickly as possible, citing statistics from the World Economic Forum that show 50 percent of the workforce will need to update their skills by 2025 to meet industry demands. The New York Jobs CEO Council is committed to placing 100,000 low-income and diverse New Yorkers into high-demand careers, according to the news release.

Another initiative for public college students in New York state aimed at establishing an IT talent pipeline was launched earlier this year. In January, the New York Office of Information Technology Services began offering paid internships for CUNY and State University of New York (SUNY) students in their final years of undergraduate or graduate programs.