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Facebook launches TechPrep to boost tech diversity

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In an effort to increase diversity in the tech community, Facebook is launching a new initiative to expose more students and their parents to the promise of a career in computer science.

The Menlo Park, the California-based social-networking giant on Wednesday launched a website called TechPrep that explains how under-represented groups, including blacks and Hispanics, can get started a career in computer science.

The resource offers tips in English and Spanish for both parents and children, on how young adults can up their knowledge of computer science, skills required to become a computer programmer, and the types of jobs and salaries available to programmers.

The effort follows a joint project between Facebook and the consultant firm McKinsey & Company who conducted a research that showed that 50 percent of blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics say they would be better at working with computers, compared to 35 percent of whites and 35 percent of Asians.

Facebook is one of the largest tech companies in the world with over 10,000 employees. According to a document released, the social network hired a total of 109 black and Hispanic employees compared to 603 white people in 2014.

However, 77 percent of parents and guardians say they don’t know how to help their children pursue an education or career in computer science. If the parents aren’t college graduates, the number increases to 83 percent, the research showed.

By including more people to engineering ranks who otherwise wouldn’t consider the profession, Facebook will be better able to manage a future shortage of computer scientists, according to Maxine Williams, Facebook’s head of diversity. The company estimates that the US will have 1 million unfilled programming jobs by 2020.

The online resources hub further explains how someone might want to be an engineer instead, listing perks such as a $62,000 average starting salary and the ability to work from anywhere with just an Internet connection. The social network will use targeted advertising on Facebook, as well as partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club of America and other non-profit groups to spread awareness about TechPrep.

The website is meant for children as young as 8 years, so it’s a long-term bet for the company. Facebook this year said only 1 percent of its technical employees are black and 3 percent are Latino, despite the company’s efforts in the last few years to build a more diverse workforce.

Read more at Technowize: Facebook and McKinsey to Increase Diversity with TechPrep

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