No degree, no problem: Big tech firms, non-profit partner to train locals for high-wage jobs

RALEIGH — Have no college degree, but want to get into the tech field? No problem.

Merit America, a nonprofit that partners with tech giants to prepare workers to thrive in higher-wage jobs, today announced the expansion of its program to North Carolina.

First site: Raleigh-Durham.

The program is being developed in partnership with major employers in the Triangle, including Amazon, Google and Infosys.

“The Raleigh-Durham area’s fast-growing technology community has a critical role to play in ensuring an equitable economic recovery after COVID-19,” said Mary-Ann Baldwin, mayor of Raleigh, in a statement. “Forward-thinking partnerships between local employers like Infosys, and training providers focused on the region’s most in-demand skills, can help create new pathways to opportunity for displaced workers across the region.”

Added Steve Schewel, mayor of Durham: “The turmoil of the past few months has exacerbated both the persistent talent shortages faced by Research Triangle tech employers, and the endemic equity gaps that are pervasive throughout the U.S. workforce.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, high-tech talent remands in demand across North Carolina. In June, there were more than 23,000 open jobs, according to the NC Technology Association. Despite year-over-year declines triggered by the crisis, June open technology positions increased over last month by over 2,000 new jobs, which is “certainly a positive sign,” the group said.

“For so many workers across North Carolina, the tech industry can provide a pathway to stable and fulfilling careers at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty,” said Ravi Kumar, Infosys’ president and deputy chief operating officer at Infosys. “Merit America’s dynamic approach to skills-based training is enabling us to diversify our workforce and identify exceptionally qualified individuals in the region.”

Merit America has existing sites in the greater Washington, DC region and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Founded in 2018, Merit America works with leading employers to build new pathways to upwardly mobile careers for Americans without college degrees. Its model includes online learning programs with hands-on mentorship, and has led to an “average salary increase of more than $18,000 for hundreds of graduates,” it said.

“Workers without college degrees have borne the brunt of the economic downturn from the pandemic — and often have limited access to the training and support that can help them shift into new careers,” said Connor Diemand-Yauman, co-CEO of Merit America. “As a hotspot of one of the country’s fastest-growing industries, North Carolina is uniquely positioned to provide those resources — in ways that can accelerate economic mobility for the workers who need it most.”

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