Many global companies set goals to increase diversity in their workforce. Yet despite this, people of color, women and other marginalized or overlooked groups remain significantly underrepresented in technology jobs.
An article for Information Age lays out the challenges in hiring a more diverse tech workforce, noting, “There are many aspects of the company pipeline to be considered when tackling a lack of diversity in tech, including driving initial interest in the industry from candidates from underrepresented groups, to building a truly inclusive internal culture.”
To help address this opportunity gap, the Zendesk Foundation has launched a new initiative under its Tech for Good umbrella, an CX Agent Training & Certification program. The program is open to non profit organizations that provide training for careers in technology to underrepresented or socially marginalized individuals. Through the program, Zendesk Foundation gives partner organizations Zendesk software licenses and certification credits for free to help train participants for careers in CX. The nonprofits provide additional tools and support resources students need to succeed, which can include access to computers, core skills training, job interview preparation, and career counseling.
The program supports the Zendesk Foundation’s focus on creating pathways into tech careers. “Learning how to be a customer support agent is a fantastic first step on a career ladder. By partnering with nonprofit organizations – and donating Zendesk software and CX agent training curriculum – we hope we can help close the opportunity gap for marginalized groups and allow more individuals to participate in a career in the innovation economy,” said Alana Ramo, Director, Tech for Good.
Tech for Good currently has four partner organizations running its training program. In addition to providing free software and certification credits mentioned above, Zendesk supports these partner organizations with vetted learning pathways and materials, continuing education for instructors, and an official certification exam. Graduating students are admitted to a LinkedIn talent pool.
One of these partners is New York City-based Kindwork, which helps talented people of color launch new careers in tech and innovation by providing free career training, coaching, and job placement support. Kindwork offers a free 6-week training course covering industry-standard customer support software platforms to prepare students for work in customer experience. With free Zendesk licenses, students have access to the full suite of Zendesk products. After graduation, students receive job placement assistance and one-on-one coaching support for one year. More than 9/10 Kindwork graduates are placed in sector-based roles.
Teaching students to be proficient in Zendesk is one important aspect of KindWork’s training. “We teach our students the Zendesk platform, because if you look at all the customer support jobs in NYC, at least 50% to 75% will say ‘Zendesk skills preferred.’ If you know how to use Zendesk and can put that on a resume, it will propel you pretty far,” explains Jeanine Mendez, KindWork co-founder.
Click here to watch a short film about Kindwork.
Tech for Good continues to add new nonprofit partners to its training program and will launch an Administrator Training & Certification course in the near future, so that graduates of the Agent program can progress along a career path, with continued support from Zendesk.