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3 Things We’ve Learned About Training the Tech Workforce of the Future

Tech talent is everywhere – we just need to re-think where we look for it, and which experiences we value.

The tech workforce we build must reconcile that talented people live in both the usual tech hotspots and in places we do not traditionally expect. [Stocksy/Flamingo Images]

The ways we work have radically changed. But the ways we build our workforces have not undergone the same shifts.

How do we hire, support, and prepare a tech workforce for jobs that don’t exist yet? How do we ensure that the workforce we build is more inclusive, diverse, and skilled than ever?  

These are questions we consider every day at the Pathfinder program, a workforce development initiative designed to train people with the technical and business skills they need to pursue a career in the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce and its partners will create 9.3 million new jobs and $1.6 trillion in revenues in the worldwide economy between 2021 and 2026, according to new research from IDC.

Our vision is that everyone, regardless of your background, should have access to the jobs of the future. In the three years since the Pathfinder program was founded in collaboration with Deloitte, the program has grown to serve more than 700 future Trailblazers – Salesforce’s community of innovators – across the U.S. and U.K. 

Here’s what we’ve learned about what it will take to turn our vision into reality.

1. Recognize that Trailblazers are everywhere

Our work-from-anywhere world isn’t going anywhere. The tech workforce we build must reconcile that talented people live in both the usual tech hotspots and in places we do not traditionally expect.

The 200 Pathfinders in our program this year come from communities across the U.S. and U.K., reflecting a rich fabric of people, places, and experiences. This year, 85% of Pathfinders come from groups who have been historically and systemically excluded from the tech workforce — people of color, women, veterans, and military spouses. We work with community colleges, nonprofits, the Salesforce Military team, and others to ensure that our recruitment is centered on communities where brilliant people are but access to opportunities may be limited.

“There’s this simple concept that talent exists in many forms,” said Sal Carrera, a Pathfinder alumnus who is now a senior Salesforce engineer at The Goal, a technology-based consulting firm. “We call it a skills gap … but it’s less of a skills gap and more of a reluctance to put faith into people. I think that we need to nurture this mindset that the world is changing and we need to start investing in people and how we think about the workforce.”

We have to think beyond the places and personal biases we’ve long held onto. Talent (and work) is everywhere, but opportunity is not.

2. Rethink resume requirements

Our Pathfinders come to the program with all of the traits they need to be successful, thanks to their life and work experiences. But in some cases, their resumes may not reflect that. We’ve got to stop focusing on specific experiences on resumes and start focusing on transferable skills.

I’d trust a bartender to build relationships with customers. I’d trust a veteran to manage critical operations. I’d trust a stay-at-home mom to project-manage anything.

This year, 15 Salesforce partners and customers have committed to hire Pathfinders in 2021:

• Deloitte

• Liberty Mutual

• IBM

• Accenture

• Ad Victoriam Solutions

• Brite Systems

• Cervello

• Appinium

• Lev

• Publicis Sapient

• NuAge Experts

• Port & Starboard

• Pracedo

• Quantum Rhino

• SpringML

By making this commitment together, we are ripping up the script on traditional ways of finding and hiring talent. We’re on a shared mission to skill up and empower new and diverse pipelines of talent to create a more equal and equitable workforce.

“One of the reasons I love working with Pathfinder graduates is that they have set a clear vision for changing their career and learning something entirely new,” said Tiffany Kreinbrink, senior vice president for customer experience at Appinium, a leading provider of content distribution and tracking solutions on Salesforce Platform. “Even though it can be quite difficult, they follow their passion and persevere to achieve change in their lives.”

3. Customer collaboration is critical

The employer partners listed above aren’t just making a promise to build a more equal workforce. They’re also lending their talents to drive innovation and share feedback, and have become part of the training process to ensure individuals have technical and business skills to be successful on Day 1 of their new career in tech.

This year, we looked at where some of the biggest product and talent demand was in our ecosystem and built new career-training pathways for them. Areas of focus included marketing technology, business analyst skills, data analytics with Tableau, and Salesforce administration and Salesforce development.

These employer partners are also delivering sessions designed just for Pathfinder participants, focused on discovery and consulting skills, navigating project teams and how to think long-term about your career.

“Pathfinders come from diverse backgrounds and have relevant and refreshing experience,” said Susan Sterling, Salesforce global social ventures leader at Deloitte. “Our Deloitte team enjoys conducting mock interviews to help Pathfinders tell their authentic story, working with them to highlight the key skill sets they already possess and which will lead to a successful career in the Salesforce ecosystem.”

By listening more clearly to the needs of our customers, we’re not only able to deliver training more attuned to the needs of the industry, we are also ensuring that participants complete the program with in-demand technical and business knowledge.

Sourcing: “The Salesforce Economic Impact,” doc #US48214821, September 20, 2021

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