January 16, 2023

Pittsburgh’s Racial Diversity Issue Threatens The Future Of Its Tech Sector

A new report by the RAND Corp. has revealed that the success of Pittsburgh’s tech sector heavily relies on the city’s ability to diversify its tech hires. 

What did the report reveal? 

The report titled “Assessing Pittsburgh’s Science and Technology-Focused Workforce Ecosystem” has disclosed that, among other challenges, Pittsburgh faces a declining population that severely impacts its workforce.

According to the report, approximately 18% of Pittsburgh’s employment works in science and technology-focused occupations, which is higher than the national figure of 16%. However, Pittsburgh’s workforce does not reflect the makeup of its population, with the sector still employing predominately older and less racially and ethnically diverse hires.

Government and business officials have been told to act now to “safeguard the region’s strengths and further its ability to compete with other technology hubs.”

Pittsburgh’s struggles with racial diversity 

Pittsburgh’s inability to retain employees from diverse racial backgrounds is also impacting the growth of the region’s workforce.  

Focus groups set up by the research organization also revealed that industry leaders find it challenging to recruit and retain Black and brown workers.  

The report noted that “unclear pathways into and within the science and technology workforce” for people of color made it difficult for them to be recruited into the field.

“A lack of in-migration to the region from both outside the state and outside the country, coupled with population losses, threatens the region’s future ability to supply a workforce for growing companies,” said Melanie A Zaber, the study’s lead author and economist at RAND. 

RAND has put forward a range of actionable steps like wage increases and reducing the barriers to breaking into the industry to improve Pittsburgh’s science and technology ecosystem.

“Additional investments and changes to policy can safeguard Pittsburgh’s strengths and support the region as a flourishing science and technology hub.” added Zaber.

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.